Connecticut Legislators Hail Passage of Act That Supports Families of Handicapped & Developmentally Disabled

July 8, 2015

HARTFORD – Connecticut has long been a leader in supporting its residents who have developmental disabilities and the state lived up to that legacy in the 2015 legislative session by authorizing tax-free savings accounts similar to 529 plans for college education savings.

This important legislation will help families plan for the future of their disabled and handicapped loved ones.

The state’s legislation was a necessary step so that residents can take advantage of the tax-free accounts, which were made possible in December 2014 when the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act became law. Mirroring the broad bipartisan support the federal law enjoyed, Connecticut’s enabling legislation (H.B. 6738) passed both chambers of the General Assembly unanimously. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed it into law on June 19.

Connecticut’s enabling legislation authorizes the establishment of tax-exempt accounts in the state to help eligible individuals and families save private funds to support individuals with disabilities to maintain health, independence, and quality of life. The funds will cover disability-related expenses including education, housing, transportation, job training and a host of other essential needs; and supplement, not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, Medicaid, SSI, employment, and other sources.

Four of the legislation’s co-sponsors and handicapped and developmental disability advocates, Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28) and Reps. Noreen S. Kokoruda (R-101), Catherine F. Abercrombie (D-83) and Christie M. Carpino (R-32), praised the state’s action in support of this landmark Act.

“Families who have a loved one with a disability work incredibly hard every day to provide support and unconditional love and care. They only want the best for their loved one, and the ABLE Act will provide them with another tool to further that mission,” Sen. Hwang said.

Rep. Carpino, who helped shepherd the bill through the legislative process as co-chair of the General Assembly’s Program Review and Investigations Committee, said, “All families in Connecticut will now have the opportunity to safeguard their children’s future. They will now be able to set aside money to plan for their loved ones and not jeopardize their future benefits. I’m proud that Connecticut will be in the forefront of states that are offering peace of mind to families of those with disabilities.”

Rep. Kokoruda said, “This legislation will impact the quality of life for so many of Connecticut’s people with disabilities and helps their families to provide for their future independence and healthy lives.”

“The ABLE Act will give families hope,” said Rep. Abercrombie, House Chair of the Human Services Commission. “All families are looking for is peace of mind that their loved ones will be taken care of. This legislation is a small step in that direction.”