Casey Unveils Bipartisan Bill to Help Individuals with Disabilities Save Money for Care

ABLE Act Would Allow Parents to Set Up Tax Advantaged Savings Accounts for Disabled Children

County-By-County Report Shows Nearly 17,000 PA Children Diagnosed with Autism; Bill Would Help Individuals with Many Other Disabilities   

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today unveiled legislation that could help thousands of individuals with disabilities across Pennsylvania save for their long term care. Under his bill, the ABLE Act, parents of children with a disability could set up tax advantaged savings accounts to help provide for their long term care. For example, nearly 17,000 children across the Pennsylvania impacted by autism could be helped by the passage of this bill.

“Parents of children with disabilities face struggles on a daily basis that we can’t even begin to imagine,” said Senator Casey. “This legislation will help make it easier for those families to save for their care and for their future. It will provide families with the financial peace of mind they need.”

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2011 (ABLE Act) will allow individuals with disabilities and their families to save money and cover expenses such as education, medical and dental care, community support services, employment training and support, moving and assistive technology, housing and transportation.  

Under current law, many individuals with disabilities are forced to divest of all of their assets in order to qualify for health care under Medicaid. This requirement effectively impoverishes these individuals and prevents them and their families from building and using savings to meet expenses. 

The ABLE Act would authorize a new type of 529 College Savings Account to be created by an individual for themselves or a beneficiary to save for future costs related to a disability.  ABLE Accounts would be available to individuals eligible to receive supplemental security income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. 

Anyone may contribute to an ABLE account under the proposal. The principle in the account would accrue interest tax-free during the life of the beneficiary.  When distributions are made to the beneficiary for qualified expenses, the distributions are excludable from the gross income of the beneficiary. 

All across the Pennsylvania, children with disabilities could be aided by passage of this bill. Below is a regional breakdown of the number of individuals diagnosed with autism in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, there are 16,911 children who have been diagnosed with autism, just one disorder that the ABLE Act would address.

  • In Central Pennsylvania 1,263 children have been diagnosed with autism.
  • In the Erie region 1,154 children have been diagnosed with autism.
  • In the Harrisburg region 2,614 children have been diagnosed with autism.
  • In Lehigh Valley 1,597 children have been diagnosed with autism.
  • In Northeastern Pennsylvania 1,781 children have been diagnosed with autism.
  • In the Philadelphia region Pennsylvania 4,902 children have been diagnosed with autism.
  • In the Pittsburgh region 4,254 children have been diagnosed with autism.

Senator Casey today called on Congress to pass this bipartisan bill right away to aid children and families in Pennsylvania and across the country.  The ABLE Act is cosponsored in the Senate by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC). U.S. Representative Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) today introduced companion legislation in the House.

Cases of autism in Pennsylvania by county:

Pennsylvania Statewide


# of People Diagnosed with Autism

# of Children Diagnosed with Autism

% Diagnosed That Are Children

 

19,039

16,911

89

Central Region

County

# of People Diagnosed with Autism

# of Children Diagnosed with Autism

% Diagnosed That Are Children

Bedford

60

56

93

Blair

209

188

90

Cameron

8

7

88

Centre

174

165

95

Clearfield

192

171

89

Clinton

42

38

90

Elk

62

58

94

Huntington

94

79

84

Jefferson

96

84

89

Juniata

23

23

100

Lycoming

120

102

85

Mifflin

77

69

90

Montour

20

18

90

Northumberland

131

121

92

Snyder

58

48

83

Union

40

36

90

Regional Average

1406

1263

90

 

Erie Region

County

# of People Diagnosed with Autism

# of Children Diagnosed with Autism

% Diagnosed That Are Children

Crawford

173

161

93

Erie

502

442

88

Forest

8

6

75

McKean

82

66

81

Mercer

279

246

88

Potter

26

23

88

Venango

107

87

81

Warren

135

123

91

Regional Average

1312

1154

88

 

Harrisburg Region

County

# of People Diagnosed with Autism

# of Children Diagnosed with Autism

% Diagnosed That Are Children

Adams

89

82

92

Cumberland

400

364

91

Dauphin

558

497

89

Franklin

239

215

90

Fulton

27

24

85

Lancaster

736

648

88

Lebanon

242

218

90

Perry

56

51

91

York

566

515

91

Regional Average

2913

2614

90

 

Lehigh Valley Region

County

# of People Diagnosed with Autism

# of Children Diagnosed with Autism

% Diagnosed That Are Children

Berks

740

688

93

Carbon

94

86

91

Lehigh

519

467

90

Northampton

414

356

86

Regional Average

1767

1597

90

 

Northeast Region

County

# of People Diagnosed with Autism

# of Children Diagnosed with Autism

% Diagnosed That Are Children

Bradford

73

61

84

Columbia

83

74

89

Lackawanna

330

287

87

Luzerne

496

427

86

Monroe

370

344

93

Pike

133

118

89

Schuylkil

255

222

87

Sullivan

6

6

100

Susquehanna

63

57

91

Tioga

49

44

90

Wayne

93

84

90

Wyoming

60

57

95

Regional Average

2011

1781

89

 

Philadelphia Region

County

# of People Diagnosed with Autism

# of Children Diagnosed with Autism

% Diagnosed That Are Children

Bucks

750

683

91

Chester

718

661

92

Delaware

791

696

88

Montgomery

1109

1020

92

Philadelphia

2142

1842

86

Regional Average

5510

4902

89

 

Pittsburgh Region

County

# of People Diagnosed with Autism

# of Children Diagnosed with Autism

% Diagnosed That Are Children

Allegheny

2235

1965

88

Armstrong

89

75

84

Beaver

300

268

89

Butler

317

281

89

Cambria

193

159

82

Clarion

51

46

90

Fayette

208

176

85

Greene

68

62

91

Indiana

121

107

88

Lawrence

161

144

89

Somerset

126

114

91

Washington

308

276

90

Westmoreland

658

581

88

Regional Average

4835

4254

88

 

Methodology

Statistics on autism incidences in Pennsylvania were provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.

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