|Senator Schmitt Introduces Disability Savings Program: Missouri ABLE Act
|Legislation Receives Immediate Endorsement from Leading Advocates for Special-Needs Children
JEFFERSON CITY—Families with a child living with a disability would have a new way to save for their children’s future under a new bill introduced by Missouri State Senator Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale. Senator Schmitt’s Missouri ABLE Act would allow families to cover their child’s future education, housing, transportation and related expenses under a plan similar to the 529 college savings program that allows families to save for college in a tax-free savings account.
“Many Missourians living with a disability who are under the care of a parent or guardian will need some form of support for the rest of their lives,” said Sen. Schmitt. “Caring for someone with a special need requires love and patience—and also resources. I’ve known families who have spent every resource they had, and borrowed even more, to care for a child or to reach for the dream of a breakthrough that allows them to overcome their disability. The savings program we are proposing would help families save for the expected and unexpected necessities that will help those with special needs achieve their fullest potential.”
For Sen. Schmitt and his wife, Jaime, helping families with a special needs child is personal. Their son, Stephen, lives with epilepsy, tuberous sclerosis and has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The experience of caring for their son has created a special bond with the community of families with a loved one living with these disabilities. In the State Senate, Schmitt has been a leading advocate for the disabled, offering solutions that originated from listening to these families and his own experiences as a parent of a child with special needs.
“No elected official in our state has done more to help the special needs community in Missouri than Senator Schmitt,” said Bill Bolster, President of the St. Louis Chapter of Autism Speaks. “The ABLE Act is a forward-looking solution to help families prepare for the future care of a family member with a special need with a tax-free account like those families use today to save for their child’s education. This legislation is not only a much-needed savings tool, it is an investment in the future of Missourians living with a disability.”
“St. Louis Arc supports ABLE Act legislation in Missouri through the passage of Senator Eric Schmitt’s introduction of Senate Bill 174,” said Kathy Meath, MSW, President and CEO of St. Louis Arc. “This legislation will help people and families who are trying to save for the future care of their family member with a disability, so that they can live better lives with greater financial security. The ABLE Act provides an opportunity for families to plan for future expenses without jeopardizing eligibility for critical benefits, and will empower many Missouri families to meet more of the lifetime needs of their family member.”
“We at Paraquad applaud Sen. Schmitt for taking the lead in Missouri to ensure that people with disabilities can live good lives, achieve greater economic independence and financial security, and lessen their reliance on public programs—while still accessing support and services necessary to be independent in their homes and communities,” said Aimee Wehmeier, Paraquad Executive Director and CEO.
“As a person with muscular dystrophy and significant personal care needs, I would have loved the opportunity to save early on,” continued Wehmeier. “Transitioning to a new city, a new job, and off of Medicaid benefits, all without being allowed to have any substantial savings, was extremely difficult. I feel secure knowing that when this bill passes, I will have better options to save for the future. There will be a time when I can’t work and may need to access services again, this will ensure I have a safety net, dignity and a high quality of life.”
“Senator Schmitt is an outstanding advocate for individuals with disabilities and understands the value in investing in the future of Missourian’s with disabilities,” said Wendy Sullivan, CEO of Easter Seals Midwest. “The ABLE Act provides help to families preparing for the future for a family member with a disability. Using a tax-free account, families can save for the extraordinary expenses that come with raising a child with special needs. This legislation provides an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to be more financially independent and self-sufficient.”
Under Sen. Schmitt’s Missouri ABLE Act, a person may make tax-deductible contributions to an account established for the purpose of financing the qualified disability expenses of a beneficiary. Participants may deduct up to $8,000 per participant ($16,000 if married filing jointly) from their adjusted gross income.
To learn more about Senate Bill 174, visit www.senate.mo.gov/schmitt.
PRESS RELEASE: Senator Schmitt Introduces Disability Savings Program: Missouri ABLE Act
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