COLUMBUS— State Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township) joined State Senator Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) today to introduce legislation aimed at lifting some of the financial burdens carried by Ohioans living with disabilities.
The bill allows eligible disabled individuals and their families to establish ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) savings accounts. Similar to 529 education savings plans, these tax-advantaged accounts would provide the opportunity to save for disability-related expenses without losing eligibility for public benefits.
"It’s high time we helped remove outdated disincentives to saving for our fellow Ohioans with disabilities. Encouraging them and their loved ones to put money away for school, transportation, wellness and other needs will not just help improve their quality of life – it will strengthen our economy as a whole," said Eklund.
Currently, disabled individuals are unable to report more than $2,000 in cash savings, retirement funds and other assets if they are to remain eligible for a wide range of public benefits, including Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This monetary cap limits the ability of many individuals to pay for disability-related expenses such as transportation, employment training, legal fees, education and assistive technology.
"Disabled Ohioans and their families should not have to choose between paying for disability-related expenses and receiving healthcare, food and housing assistance that they need to live healthy lives," said Jones. "This legislation returns financial control and autonomy to people living with disabilities."
The bill will harmonize Ohio law with federal legislation that was signed last December. Seven states have already enacted similar legislation, and ABLE is awaiting passage or signature in 28 additional states.
The bill will now be assigned to a committee where it will receive further consideration.