Many Ohioans living with disabilities rely on public assistance for supplemental income, health care, and food and housing assistance. Many of these public benefits require a means test that limits eligibility if an individual reports more than $2000 in cash savings. In an effort to help, our national policy has unintentionally made it difficult for Americans with disabilities to lift themselves up and out of poverty. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was signed into federal law in December 2014, in order to improve national policy regarding public benefits for Americans living with disabilities. The next step is for each state to pass its own version of the law to help its citizens with disabilities.

House Bill 155, sponsored by my colleagues State Representatives Jonathan Dever and Margy Conditt, would help thousands of Ohioans with disabilities save money for their future, without the penalty of losing public benefits, by making tax-free savings accounts available to cover expenses such as education, housing, and transportation. By allowing families of Ohioans with disabilities to save money for future needs, families can be assured that their loved ones will thrive long after they’re gone.

HB 155 would permit annual contributions to an ABLE account up to $14,000 per year. The money in an ABLE account would be exempt from state and local means-tests for public assistance. ABLE accounts will ease the financial strain on Ohioans with disabilities by enabling them to save money for important future expenses that are not covered by public assistance benefits. This will prevent Ohioans with disabilities from falling into poverty due to unforeseen expenditures, such as small home or car repairs.

I am a proud supporter of HB 155, which recently passed the Ohio House of Representatives with unanimous approval. It is my hope that this legislation will help Ohioans with disabilities improve their financial situation by allowing them to save money for their future, while still receiving the public benefits that are so important to their everyday lives.  The bill now awaits consideration by my colleagues in the Senate, and I hope that they will continue to move this important issue through the legislative process.

I encourage you to contact my office with questions, concerns, and ideas regarding this or any other state government related issue.

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