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Schumer pushes tax-free accounts for people with disabilities

Ashley Hirtzel

A new piece of legislation making its way through the U.S. Senate could help New Yorkers with disabilities and their families prepare for the future. Senator Charles Schumer is pushing for passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act or ABLE Act, which creates a tax-advantage savings account for people with disabilities.

“What it would do is very simple. It would create a savings account similar to IRAs that would allow parents to put away more money for their disabled child, without paying taxes on those dollars, and without putting them over a threshold for what you get for social security disability,” said Schumer.

Schumer says individuals that have been diagnosed with a physical or mental disability or their beneficiary can create an account. He says anyone can contribute to it, and the funds can be withdrawn tax-free and used for expenses such as education, medicine, and transportation.

According to the CDC, there are more than 43,000 people with disabilities in western New York, that includes Autism, Down Syndrome and Fragile-X.

Kathy Bunce is the mother of a child with significant developmental disabilities. She says the bill is a good, first step in helping families better prepare for their child’s future.

“My daughter has significant supplies. Personal hygiene supplies, because she’s not toilet trained. She has medications, because she has seizure disorders. She has a very restrictive diet, because she has gluten intolerance and allergies. You start looking at all that and you think: How do you prepare for the rest of her life, when I’m 50 and she’s 19? How do you do that? So, it’s always been a huge concern,” said Bunce.

Schumer says families shouldn’t have to choose between paying for daily living expenses and saving for their child’s future.