June 19, 2015

Assembly Passes Legislation to Promote Independent Living and Enhance Quality of Life for Individuals with Disabilities

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Chair of the Mental Health Committee Aileen Gunther announced the passage of legislation (A.7767B, Gunther) that would allow individuals and families of people with disabilities to set aside dedicated private funds for costs associated with their health and well-being.

The bill would create the "New York Achieving a Better Life Experience (NY ABLE) Act" in New York State for the benefit of qualified individuals with disabilities. Under the program, individuals can save monies to be used for health and medical expenses in a tax-deferred financial vehicle while maintaining eligibility for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

"The passage of this bill is another step in fulfilling our promise to uplift the families across this state," said Heastie. "In adopting the ABLE Act here in New York, we are giving our families and loved ones the tools they need to live fulfilling and inclusive lives."

"As New York continues to pursue innovative, community-based care for people with disabilities, it is essential that the men and women of our state be empowered to live healthy, independent lives," said Gunther. "This bill takes a strong step toward making independence affordable and attainable for those who need it most."

In December 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law the federal ABLE Act which allows states to establish dedicated savings accounts to offset the costs of living for individuals with disabilities. The monies saved in these accounts are exempt from the personal asset limits for Medicaid and SSI benefits thereby preserving the financial health of individuals and families.

This measure was also passed by the Senate and will be delivered to the Governor for consideration.