For Immediate Release:
June 29, 2015

Contact: Kack Haslag
(573) 751-2853

MO Able Act, Sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt,
Signed into Law

ST. LOUIS - Senate Bill 174, legislation sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, to create the “Missouri Achieving a Better Life Experience Program (ABLE),” was signed into law today by the governor.

The law will allow parents and families of individuals living with disabilities to cover their child’s future education, housing, transportation and related expenses in a tax-free savings account.

Under the law, 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 ($16,000 if married filing jointly) from their adjusted gross income.

Individual accounts may receive up to the federal gift tax amount annually, which is currently $14,000. Individual accounts may accrue up to $325,000, which is the same as the 529 MOST lifetime limit.

“Most individuals living with a disability will require some sort of care for the rest of their lives, and those services can come at a high cost,” said Sen. Schmitt. “By establishing the ABLE program, we can give those citizens and their families a financially-sound way to plan ahead so they have peace of mind in knowing those funds are there to help with their long-term needs. I was proud to see my colleagues recognize how important this legislation is to Missourians living with disabilities.”

“Passage of ABLE in Missouri is another step forward for families affected by disabilities and a credit to the community’s strongest and most tireless advocate in the Missouri Senate, Senator Eric Schmitt,” said Bill Bolster, President of the St. Louis Chapter of Autism Speaks. “Just as families can now save for their children’s education in tax advantaged accounts, families affected with disabilities can do the same in preparing their loved ones for adulthood.”

“The ABLE Act is really a landmark win for the disability community - a key piece of the puzzle,” said Cathy Brown, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Paraquad. “It provides the flexibility for people with disabilities to save money for future needs without jeopardizing the care and services they need today. Senator Schmitt knows firsthand what this legislation will mean to Missouri families and we commend his leadership in advancing this important legislation through the legislature.”

"In my 34 years working in the disability field, I have never met an elected official who is more devoted to children with disabilities and their families than Senator Eric Schmitt," said Darla Templeton, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri & Kansas.  "The ABLE Act is exactly what families need to plan for their child with special needs. Children with disabilities have been penalized. Because they receive Medicaid benefits, they can’t save for the future. The ABLE Act will correct that and offer options to save. It is expensive to have a disability. Incentives to save while generating income will offer future peace of mind, financial security and reduce reliance on the public programs."

"ABLE is one of the most significant and necessary pieces of legislation ever passed for people with disabilities," said Jeremie Ballinger, Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis.  "It allows this population the chance to have greater independence and opportunity, and ultimately to live life with the dignity and respect they deserve.  We are grateful for Senator Schmitt’s leadership in making sure Missouri residents have access to ABLE accounts as soon as possible." 

Senator Schmitt has been a long-time advocate for individuals with disabilities, from his landmark legislation requiring insurance companies to cover autism treatment costs to modernizing the way the state refers to individuals with disabilities in statutory language. Senate Bill 174 is his latest effort to improve the lives of all disabled Missourians.