Celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the PA Able Savings Program

Treasurer Stacy Garrity today joined Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), Sherri Landis of The Arc of Pennsylvania, Susan Tachau of the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation, and other disability advocates to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the PA ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Savings Program.

PA ABLE is a savings program for Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families. It provides a tax-free way to save without affecting eligibility for critical means-tested benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (up to $100,000) or Medical Assistance. Nearly 6,300 Pennsylvanians have opened PA ABLE accounts and saved more than $72 million for disability expenses.

“PA ABLE is a tremendous program that really expands opportunity and increases independence for Pennsylvanians with disabilities,” Treasurer Garrity said. “It’s great to see the success as the program keeps growing – and as it does, we will continue to look for ways to improve the program. I’m so thankful for the great support we have for PA ABLE in the General Assembly, and with our incredible network of partners who do such important work every day and help spread the word about how PA ABLE can help improve lives.”

“Due to the care taken during the conception and legislative construction of ABLE, we have come up with a good balance of state assistance and personal initiative,” Senator Baker said. “This helps families in dealing with extremely challenging and difficult circumstances, by removing roadblocks and helping them offer a better life for their loved one coping with a disability. The concept is so simple – reward, rather than penalize, families for prudently planning ahead.”

Federal ABLE legislation, championed by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in 2014, allowed for states to create ABLE programs. PA ABLE was enacted in 2016 with instrumental support from Sen. Baker and former Rep. Bernie O’Neill.

“Since its inception 5 years ago, PA ABLE has helped thousands of Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families save for the future,” Senator Casey said. “I am proud to have led this effort at the federal level, but we have more work to do to make ABLE more accessible. The next step is to pass my bipartisan ABLE Age Adjustment Act, which would expand ABLE account eligibility to people with disabilities that occur prior to age 46—including veterans—and ensure more Pennsylvanians and their families can benefit from this life-changing resource. I thank Treasurer Garrity for marking this occasion and I will continue to fight in Congress for the needs of people with disabilities and their families.”

“The Arc of Pennsylvania celebrates the 5th anniversary of the PA ABLE and the incredible opportunity the program has given to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Landis said. “Allowing individuals to save money for the future, while maintaining benefits, is a step forward in creating financial security.”

“I’m honored to be here today to help celebrate PA ABLE’s 5th anniversary,” Tachau said. “Self-determination and autonomy are values that we hold dear – and PA ABLE provides an opportunity for people with disabilities to become empowered and save for their futures without jeopardizing critical services. As a parent of an adult with cerebral palsy, I’ve been able to have new discussions with our son about savings and goal setting because he can now control his finances. He has used his PA ABLE account to buy a smart doorbell so that he can see who’s at his front door, and he’s purchased a smart phone with specialized software so that he can make calls by himself. PA ABLE has given him the ability to be more independent in how he makes financial decisions.”

Others joining the celebration included Karen Leslie-Henry, Coordinator of Community Relations for the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, a Pre-K to 12th grade school located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia; and Lori Tyndall, Vice President of AHEDD, a nonprofit organization that provides employment services for people with disabilities.

PA ABLE is one of the largest, and fastest growing ABLE programs in the country, and is the largest in the 19-member National ABLE Alliance, accounting for nearly 25% of total assets.

To be eligible for PA ABLE, a person’s disability must have occurred prior to their 26th birthday. PA ABLE account owners can choose from six different investment options and an interest-bearing checking account. Contributions and earnings in PA ABLE accounts can be used to help save and pay for short- or long-term disability related expenses. Qualifying expenses include education, housing, transportation, assistive technology, health care, financial management, and more.

Tax advantages for PA ABLE account owners include no federal or state income taxes owed on earnings or qualified withdrawals; a PA state income tax deduction on contributions up to $16,000 annually; and exemption from PA inheritance tax.

Senator Casey has introduced the ABLE Age Adjustment Act in Congress, which would raise the eligibility for ABLE programs to those whose disability occurs by age 46. This would expand ABLE account access to about 6 million more Americans, including an estimated 1 million disabled veterans. The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Pat Toomey. A House version has also been introduced and is cosponsored by 12 members of the Pennsylvania delegation.

To learn more about PA ABLE, visit paable.gov, email info@paable.gov or call 855-529-2253.