Institute on Disabilities Hosts Senator Casey

April 2014

The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, along with The Arc of Philadelphia, hosted a press conference on Thursday, April 17, 2014 featuring Robert P. Casey Jr., U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. Senator Casey visited Temple's main campus to discuss the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act or "The ABLE Act" that he introduced, along with U.S. Representative from Florida, Ander Crenshaw.

PHOTO: Senator Bob Casey addresses the audience.
Senator Bob Casey addresses the audience. More photos below

The ABLE Act would give individuals with disabilities and their families the ability to create tax advantaged savings accounts to pay for services promote independence and allow for individual choice and control while protecting eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other important federal benefits.

Amy S. Goldman, co-executive director of the Institute, who opened the press conference, says that the ABLE Act will have a similar impact on families as "Section 529" has had on parents planning for their children's college education. "Parents of children with disabilities are planning not only for education, but long term services for their children," Goldman said. "But of course, they need to do so without affecting their eligibility for other programs that are key to their independence and health, including Medical Assistance and income from the SSI program, for example."

Senator Casey was greeted by Temple University president Dr. Neil Theobald after which he addressed members of the press, other policy makers including former state representative and City Councilman Dennis O'Brien, a long-time supporter of Pennsylvanians with disabilities, and more than 50 guests. He was joined on the podium by Tanya Regli, Executive Director of The Arc of Philadelphia, Sabra Townsend, a parent of a child with a disability, and Shawn Aelong, a self-advocate and a soon-to-be-graduate of the Institute's Academy for Adult Learning program. Each shared why the ABLE Act would have a significant impact on them in planning for the future.

The goal of the ABLE Act is to provide this ability to plan, giving both parents and children a higher level of confidence for a successful future. "Current rules don't allow a person with a disability to save more than $2000 without losing the benefits they often rely on," Celia S. Feinstein, co-executive director of the Institute said. "The ABLE Act will allow people with disabilities to save for a down payment on a home, accessible vehicle or other needed equipment, employment training and community support services, and parents can save for their child's education or healthcare needs."

The ABLE Act currently has the bipartisan support of 70 Senators, including Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, and 359 members of the House of Representatives.

The Arc has summarized the ABLE Act in a 2-page brief.

Senator Casey addresses the ABLE Act on his website.

Photos from the press conference are below.

PHOTO: Dr. Neil Theobald greets Senator Bob Casey.
Temple University President Dr. Neil Theobald (left) greets Senator Bob Casey.

PHOTO: Dr. Neil Theobald with Amy Goldman.
Temple University President Dr. Neil Theobald speaks with Institute co-executive director, Amy Goldman.

PHOTO: Senator Bob Casey, George Kenney, and Dennis O'Brien.
From left: Senator Bob Casey; George Kenney, Associate Vice President for Government Affairs, Temple University; and Dennis O'Brien, City Councilman of Philadelphia.

PHOTO: Group of attendees pose with Dennis O'Brien and Senator Bob Casey.
From left: Sabra Townsend, Piers Meier, Cathy Roccia-Meier, Dennis O'Brien, Senator Bob Casey, Tanya Regli, and Shawn Aelong.

PHOTO: Jackie Csaniz, Academy for Adult Learning graduate, with Senator Bob Casey.
Jackie Csaniz, Academy for Adult Learning graduate, with Senator Bob Casey.

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Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service