Disability Policy News In Brief

August 12, 2019

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August 12, 2019   |   Vol. MMXIX, Issue 31
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Congressional Recess All Month

Members of Congress are in their home districts! Think about hosting a community event and inviting your members of Congress or invite them to visit your programs or centers.

Action Steps:

  • Reach out to both the district office and DC office with your request and ask to be connected with a scheduler.
  • Learn more about a Recess from Liz.

Autism CARES

The Autism CARES Act - which has expanded research and coordination, increased public awareness and surveillance, and expanded interdisciplinary health professional training, including LENDs, to identify and support children and youth with Autism and their families - will sunset (expire) on September 30, 2019, without a successful reauthorization.

HR. 1058, which reauthorizes CARES for five years, passed the House on Wednesday July 24, 2019. S. 427 did not pass the Senate before adjourning for the August Recess. Your voices and advocacy over the next month before they return to Washington is critical!

Action Steps:

  • Sample Tweet: #AutismCARES provides critically needed research, #LEND training, and system improvement for families with #autism and related #disabilities. (Insert Twitter Handle of your Senator), support the passage of this important legislation before it expires Sept 30! @AUCDNews
  • Use the August Recess to your advantage and set up a meeting with your Senators who are not Co-Sponsors to talk about the importance of CARES in your state. Think about hosting a community event and inviting your members of Congress or invite them to visit your programs or centers. If you get a chance to meet with your member or their staff, here are some talking points:
    • CARES is critical to systems serving people with Autism in our state. Summarize and share this resource: CARES Act Summary
    • Educate on what a LEND is and its impact on service delivery and systems for people with Autism. Include a story about a trainee. Summarize and share this resource: How CARES impacts LEND Programs
    • LEND is one piece of systems change. There are three main aspects of CARES funding and programs. Share this resource: Programs and Activities Funded through CARES
    • Reauthorization and appropriation of funding is critical to continue to impact your constituents with autism and their families. Share this resource: LEND Appropriations

Community Living

The Administration for Community Living begins its advisory councils established by the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act and the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (SGRG) Act. The RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council is charged with providing recommendations on effective models of family caregiving and support to family caregivers, as well as improving coordination across federal government programs. The Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren will identify, coordinate, and promote information, resources, and best practices available to help grandparents and other older relatives meet the needs of the children in their care, while also maintaining their own physical, mental, and emotional well-being. These recommendations will support the development and execution of a national family caregiving strategy. A complete list of council members can be found at ACL.gov/RAISE and ACL.gov/SGRG.

Deep Dive Series

With Congress on Recess, we will spend each week digging deeper into various topics that are of issue in the disability space.

The ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 651, H.R. 1814) will raise the age from 26 to 46 for people with disabilities to have ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts.

ABLE accounts are designed to help individuals with disabilities to save for and pay for disability-related expenses (like housing, transportation, personal support services, health care costs, etc). Right now, to open an account, an individual must have a disability that began before the individual turned 26.

Before ABLE: People with disabilities could not save money easily.

  • Having a disability comes with many costs.
  • Many individuals with disabilities depend on public benefit programs like Social Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.
  • There are saving limits (no more than $2,000) by SSI, Medicaid, and other federal means-tested benefits programs.
  • Limited ability to save and work while receiving public benefits.

Passage of ABLE Act: People with disabilities could save money better.

  • Stephen J. Beck Achieving a Better Life Experience Act was signed into law in December 2014.
  • Allows each state to establish or partner with another state to offer a "qualified ABLE program" that would allow residents of their state to open ABLE accounts.
  • Makes it possible for individuals with disabilities to build savings and save for current and future expenses.

What are ABLE Accounts? Savings accounts so you can save and pay for what you need.

  • Ownership: Account is owned by individuals with disabilities that happen before age 26.
  • Independence: Opportunities for saving up to $100,000.
  • Tax Benefits: Earnings are tax-free on the state and federal level.
  • Freedom: Does not impact your benefit programs (SSI and Medicaid).

ABLE Today: There have been amendments to the first bill. An amendment is to add language to a bill that has already been written.

  • 2015 amendment: Allows individuals to sign up for any state plan; some states have partnered with other states to join together to provide ABLE plans.
  • 2017 amendment: Owners can move funds from 529 accounts to ABLE Accounts and gives amounts allowed to save per year based on employment status.
  • 2019 amendment: ABLE Age Adjustment Act is pending (15 co-sponsors in Senate, 36 co-sponsors in House).

Action Needed: Educate others about the importance of ABLE accounts.

  • In order for ABLE accounts to continue, about 390,000 funded accounts are needed by June 2021. Currently, there are only 17,000 open accounts.
  • Passage of the ABLE Age Adjustment Act will provide access to nearly 6 million more people with disabilities, helping ABLE accounts continue to happen. 
  • Reach out to your members of Congress, sharing with them the importance of ABLE accounts and the need for this amendment.

Tuesdays with Liz: Jennifer Longdon on Gun Violence

Jennifer Longdon, a person with a disability as a result of gun violence, shares her perspective on guns.



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For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms 





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