Advocacy Federal Legislation News

Able Age Adjustment Act included in Omnibus Spending Bill signed by President Biden

Dignity Alliance endorsed securing age extension requirements for disability benefits.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, one of several federal bills endorsed this term by Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, operates as a long-term savings account for disability beneficiaries without running the risk of losing additional federal benefits, such as Social Security Income and Medicaid.  The bill is known as the A.B.L.E. Act, is sponsored by Senator Robert Casey (D-PA), and is included in the Omnibus bill approved by Congress and sent to the President at the end of the session.

Under the bill, age eligibility requirements for ABLE beneficiaries would extend to individuals whose disability onset began after 26 years of age, the current threshold in the original legislation, written in 2014. New language eases restrictions for individuals up to 46 years of age. 

The bill, as passed, grants 6.1 million new recipients, including 1 million veterans,  the opportunity to open an ABLE account and save for the future without losing crucial disability benefits. 

Before ABLE became available, disability beneficiaries could not accumulate more than $2,000 in assets. The savings can be used for disability related expenses, including home modifications, education, transportation and assistive technology

The ability to save cash provides considerable relief for the disabled population, known to experience employment under uncertain and changing workforce conditions that were exacerbated by the pandemic. 

The 2021 census reported that roughly 7.9% of Massachusetts residents under the age of 65 live with a disability.  Disabled Massachusetts residents now experience disproportionate barriers when trying to secure a job — including poverty, internet access, and the ability to complete an onerous job application — are all issues that compound the person’s ability to perform any role successfully. 

Many disabled folks, albeit perfectly competent and qualified to execute any given task in the workplace, require intervention from organizations that work to introduce employment in phases with vetted partners. 

Local organizations, including Dignity Alliance, have worked to close the gaps disabled individuals face, but previous efforts fall short with stagnating and insufficient federal funding. The Age Adjustment Act eases the ability of disabled individuals to save long-term as they navigate difficulties in attempting to join the workforce.