During a press conference this morning, Ohio House and Senate lawmakers, Treasurer Josh Mandel, and other advocates discussed legislation that has been introduced in the House and Senate that will ease some of the financial strains on individuals with disabilities.

The Ohio ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act allows individuals with disabilities to create tax-advantaged accounts. Similar to 529 education plans, the tax-advantaged accounts will benefit those with disabilities, as well as their families.

“This legislation will allow disabled individuals to increase their quality of life and self-determination, as well as allow their families to financially care for their own,” said Rep. Jonathan Dever (R-Cincinnati), who is cosponsoring the legislation in the House with Rep. Margy Conditt (R-Liberty Township).

“This will be a blessing for so many individuals with disabilities and their families,” Rep. Conditt said. “I look forward to continuing to work for this important cause.”

“Disabled Ohioans and their families should not have to choose between paying for disability-related expenses and receiving health care, food and housing assistance that they need to live healthy lives,” said Senator Shannon Jones (R-Springboro), who is cosponsoring a bill in the Senate with Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township). “This legislation returns financial control and autonomy to people living with disabilities.”

Currently, thousands of Ohioans with disabilities and their families depend on a variety of public benefits, including for health care, food and housing assistance. Under current law, a disabled individual must remain financially underprivileged in order to remain eligible for public benefits.

"It’s high time we helped remove outdated disincentives to saving for our fellow Ohioans with disabilities,” Sen. Eklund said. “Encouraging them and their loved ones to put money away for school, transportation, wellness and other needs will not just help improve their quality of life—it will strengthen our economy as a whole.”

For those who are eligible, the accounts will not affect eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, or other public benefits. The legislation explains further that an ABLE account will, with private savings, secure funding for disability-related expenses on behalf of designated beneficiaries.

Video coverage of the press conference can be found here.

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