Crenshaw Legislation Would Help Disabled Families Save; the Plan Would Amend the IRS Code to Allow Tax-Free Accounts

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Byline: JEANINE DEBOER

With the economy slowing and the cost of necessities rising, many parents are making cutbacks in their households and searching for new ways to save for their futures and their children's.

But what if saving money for one of your children could actually mean a penalty that would cost you money in the long run?

Many people may be unaware that is a very real problem that parents of children with disabilities face every day.

Take, for example, Charlotte Temple, mother of two daughters, one of whom has Down syndrome. Her girls, at 15 and 16, are preparing to enter the working world. Except that one of them won't be able to save for her retirement without extreme limitations.

"The way things stand right now, if my daughter works somewhere that offers a retirement plan that allows the employees to withdraw money in any way and she saves more than $2,000, she will lose her disability benefits," Temple said.

U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, a member of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, recently met with representatives of the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville to discuss legislation he's authored that would help provide equal savings opportunities to families with disabled children.

"The federal government helps people save for retirement, it helps people save for a college education, but there's no way to save to take care of a disabled person," he said.

Having friends with children who have disabilities, and a close friend with Down syndrome, Crenshaw said he feels it is his duty to do something to change the current savings status to help provide disabled people and their families with the flexibility to save for unforeseeable expenses.

Crenshaw said the legislation, called the Financial Security Accounts for Individuals with Disabilities Act, proposes to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and allow for the creation of accounts in which after-tax contributions could grow tax-free - similar to 529 college savings plans or retirement plans. …