092815RT0071CHAMPAIGN- Illinois families worried about the financial security of loved ones living with disabilities will soon have another resource to promote their independence.  

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) and Treasurer Michael Frerichs joined area advocates to raise awareness of a new law that will create a tax-exempt plan to help individuals and families save money to cover expenses for people living with disabilities. Senate Bill 1383 creates the Illinois Achieving a Better Life Expectancy Act (ABLE Act), which creates accounts similar to tax-advantaged college saving plans where income earned in the account is not taxable.

“This initiative will help ensure our loved ones will live their lives with respect and dignity,” Bennett said. "Without resources like this, many people with disabilities don’t have the opportunity to be financially independent.”

Carl Webber, parent and board member of Developmental Services Center will certainly take advantage of this new program. Before the ABLE program, without complicated documents, people living with disabilities could not receive benefits and retain significant assets.

“Until the creation of the ABLE program, there weren’t any financial resources available. This forced people living with disabilities to rely on the state for extraordinary expenses and for assistance after parents and responsible family members were gone,” Webber said. “This program will be a huge source of relief to families. There will be assistance available to address emergency situations and to provide support after parents and responsible family members are no longer available to provide necessary financial assistance.”  

The Treasurer’s Office will be responsible for the administration and implementation of ABLE accounts in accordance with federal rules and regulations. ABLE accounts are similar to 529 college saving plans with earnings that are tax-advantaged federally.

“Now that the ABLE Act has become law in Illinois, the Treasurer’s Office is proud to take the lead in implementing the program and advocating for families that will utilize ABLE accounts,” Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said. “The ABLE Act will make a tremendous difference for individuals with disabilities, giving them a tool to achieve financial stability, independence, and peace of mind to live their lives with dignity.”

This legislation comes after the federal government passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 with bipartisan support. Virginia was the first state to enact the program since the federal legislation was passed.

“DSC is pleased to be hosting this press conference with Treasurer Mike Frerichs and Senator Scott Bennett to share information about the ‘Achieving a Better Life Experience’ (ABLE) Act and helping to make individuals and families in Champaign County aware of the possibilities it offers,” said Dale Morrissey, chief executive officer of Developmental Services Center.

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