Why being ABLE requires an Act

Tamara and Tan

Tamara and Tan, maybe you’ve met us.

Along this journey, Tan and I have been asked a few times, “Why raise money to buy a car? Why not just buy one?” Certainly just buying the car we want would speed this process along, but what a lot of people don’t know is that there are more barriers to Ability than just the person’s disability.

While the barriers faced can be numerous, one major barrier is a law that prevents persons with a disability who receive medical and/or supplemental income benefits to save more than $2,000 in assets. Holding assets exceeding this $2,000 limit and the disabled individual risks losing their benefits. 

The same restrictions apply for me as Tan’s wife. That $2,000 limit? That limit combines the sum of both of our assets together, not separately.  I am also restricted to how much money I’m allowed to earn each month in income–in our case, I can barely earn each month what is the equivalent of our rent.

Under the current restrictions, Tan could never hope to save enough money to put a down payment on a new car or make car payments. Essentially, this law keeps Tan dependent on other people and on government programs.

Programs, like Ticket to Work, are supposed to help the working disabled individual from losing their benefits while earning an income. Based on the individual’s benefits, a formula is applied that allows the disabled individual to work and earn a certain amount of income before beginning to lose benefits. The program is also designed to allow the individual to save larger sums of money for the purchase of things like a home, a car, or education.

What we have personally learned is that the program doesn’t always work, as Tan is currently fighting to regain his medical and supplemental income benefits after losing a large portion of them in October last year, even while being on the Ticket to Work program.

Currently there is legislation that could be a solution to this problem for many working people with a disability. It’s called The ABLE Act. The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act is still a bill in Congress and proposes a 529-like account that wouldn’t harm the benefits and medical coverage of working people with disabilities. A young woman by the name of Sara Wolff has started a petition on Change.org calling on Congress to pass the ABLE Act. You can sign that petition here.

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