Senate enacts Libby bill to establish ABLE accounts in Maine

Posted: June 05, 2019 | Senator Libby

Legislation from Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, LD 1637, “An Act To Prevent Medicaid Payment from a Savings Account Established under the Federal ABLE Act of 2014,” to establish ABLE accounts in Maine, was enacted unanimously in the Maine Senate on Wednesday.

“Living with a disability isn’t cheap, but before ABLE accounts, people with disabilities had had to live in poverty in order to receive the benefits they need to live,” said Sen. Libby. “LD 1637 will allow Mainers with disabilities to take full advantage of the ABLE Act and pay for things like wheelchairs, making home modifications, or affording medical services not covered by insurance.”

Under current law, people with disabilities must stay under a $2,000 cap of savings in order to qualify for the services and assistance they need to survive, including SSI, SNAP and Medicaid, even though living with a disability can be expensive as there are many disability-related costs including accessible housing and transportation, assistive technologies, and extensive, uncovered medical care.

ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts for people with disabilities that allow those individuals and their families to save money, up to $15,000 a year, for many disability-related expenses, without affecting eligibility for public benefits.

LD 1637 establishes ABLE accounts in Maine, and reiterates in Maine law that funds in ABLE accounts will not count against account holders’ for purposes of eligibility for public benefits and that earnings on funds in ABLE accounts are exempt from taxation in Maine.

“ABLE accounts will help Mainers with disabilities save and improve quality of life,” said Maine State Treasurer Henry Beck at a recent public hearing on LD 1637. “Senator Libby’s legislation will provide certainty for Maine people and financial institutions.”

LD 1637 has now been sent to Gov. Janet Mills, who has 10 days to sign it into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without her signature.