State Senator Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today announced the Senate's passage of legislation to improve financial independence and quality of life for Ohioans with disabilities. 

House Bill 155 requires the Ohio Treasurer of State to create a program authorizing federally tax-advantaged savings accounts for qualified individuals with disabilities. The proposed accounts, also called ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts, are similar to 529 education savings accounts. House Bill 155 allows Ohioans with disabilities and their families to use the accounts to pay for qualified disability-related expenses without affecting their eligibility for means-based assistance. 

Currently, Ohioans with disabilities are unable to report more than $2,000 in cash savings, retirement and other funds without losing eligibility for public benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. The existing monetary cap on savings limits the ability of many individuals to pay for disability-related expenses such as transportation, employment training, legal fees, education and assistive technology. House Bill 155 will allow individuals with disabilities to save for these expenses using savings accounts that do not count against eligibility for public benefits. 

"This legislation will help Ohio families save money to pay for disability-related expenses," said Obhof. "This is a way for us to provide additional relief and financial independence to these Ohioans and their families."

If enacted, the bill will align Ohio law with federal legislation passed last year. ABLE legislation has already been enacted in seven states and is awaiting passage or signature in twenty-eight additional states.

House Bill 155 passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote and will now go to the Governor for his signature. 

Senator Obhof also noted the Senate passage of legislation to fund the Ohio Industrial Commission, which serves injured workers and support for businesses by adjudicating workers' compensation claims and keeping thousands of disputes out of Ohio's court system. This is the third consecutive budget with a funding decrease due to efficiencies achieved by the agency. 

The legislation now goes back to the House of Representatives for a vote of concurrence before it is presented to the governor for his signature. 

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