Eliminating a Hurdle for Individuals with Disabilities
Individuals with certain intellectual and development disabilities and their families often face challenges when financially planning for future expenses. There has been a longstanding barrier in place that limits an individual’s cash assets to a maximum of $2,000 or they risk losing their Medical Assistance health insurance among eligibility for other programs. Thanks to the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act being signed into law, families will now be able to establish a tax-exempt savings account that will significantly improve the quality of life for their loved ones.
In December 2014, a federal ABLE Act was created that provides for a federal tax-exempt savings account for disability-related expenses. However, it is up to the individual state to adopt its own law establishing ABLE since the new accounts will need to be administered by those states. For the commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department has been tasked with implementing the new law.
The ABLE program is designed to help families provide critical support by putting away money for after their child turns 21 for future expenses. Specifically, participants will be allowed to deduct account contributions, up to $14,000 per year, from Pennsylvania taxable income with the following additional benefits:
- Savings will grow tax-free
- Cash withdrawals can take place at any time and will be exempt from federal and state income tax when used for qualified expenses (housing, medical, transportation, life skills, and education)
- The first $100,000 will not count towards determining eligibility for Social Security payments
- Will not count towards eligibility determination for Medical Assistance
- Accounts will also be exempt from inheritance tax
In addition, the ABLE Act removes the restrictions placed on individuals with disabilities from participating in the workplace to their full potential by eliminating the disincentive to work because of limits on how much they can save.
The commonwealth plans to begin offering the ABLE savings account program by the final months of 2016. If you have additional questions about how to sign up, please visit the Pennsylvania Treasury Department’s website at http://pa529.com/able.html.
Did You Know…
Did you know that more than 53 million adults in the United States are living with some type of disability?
Green Tree Shredding Event – THIS SATURDAY
This Saturday, together with Representative Dan Deasy and Green Tree Borough, we are hosting a shredding event in the parking lot at Green Tree Park from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
With consumer fraud and identity theft continuing to be an issue, we want to not only raise awareness and promote prevention, but also to provide individuals with the opportunity to have unneeded, confidential documents destroyed free of charge. You may bring documents that contain personal information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.
Save the Date! – 12th Annual FontanaFest
Last week I announced that the 12th Annual FontanaFest will once again be held at Highmark Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds! Save the date – Saturday, August 20 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Once again, parking will be free in the stadium’s West Lot, compliments of Forest City!
The annual community event is perfect for families and children, promoting healthy and active lifestyles by providing many fun activities and crafts. Children will also have the chance to play on several inflatables, an obstacle course, and a climbing wall. All Attendees also are provided with the opportunity to engage with several organizations from around the region and receive important information on available services and programs, nutrition, health care, jobs and jobs training. I’m also thrilled that once again this year, students from Pittsburgh Musical Theatre will join us to perform! The Pirate Parrot will once again be in attendance among others!
Stay tuned throughout the summer for updates on the schedule of events, participants, and more.
April Slot Machine Revenue Rises
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board recently announced that revenue from the play of slot machines at the state’s 12 casinos increased by 1.5 percent during April, compared to April 2015. Tax revenue generated from slot machines during April 2016 was over $111 million.
Slot machines are taxed at 55 percent in Pennsylvania and directed as follows: 34 percent for property tax reduction; 12 percent supporting the horse racing industry; five percent is placed in a state economic development fund; and two percent goes to local governments that host casinos.
The state’s gaming industry employs over 17,700 people and generates an average of $3.7 million per day in tax revenue from both slot machines and table games. For more information on gaming in Pennsylvania and to read reports from the Gaming Control Board, please visit them online at www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.
Port Authority Track Project Updates - Beechview
The Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) began a necessary reconstruction project of the light rails that run along Broadway Avenue in Beechview on March 27. The project is expected to take approximately six months to complete and PAT reports that things are currently running on schedule.
PAT has created a web page dedicated specifically to this project which can be accessed by clicking here or visiting www.portauthority.org and clicking on the link titled “Red Line Construction” under Rider Alerts. Visitors can get updated information on the project, sign up to receive regular email updates, and communicate with other residents on a message board. You may also request information or ask questions about the project by contacting PAT via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the project Beechview remains open for business so please continue patronizing local businesses!
Lawrenceville Farmers’ Market
The Lawrenceville Farmers’ Market is returning in 2016 but at a new location. This year’s Farmers’ Market will be held in Arsenal Park beginning Saturday, June 4, from 1 – 4 p.m. and will run each Saturday until October 29. Arsenal Park is located between 39th and 40th Streets and between Penn and Butler Streets. The market will be located on the 40th Street side of Arsenal Park. For more information on the 2016 Lawrenceville Farmers’ Market, please contact the Cassandra Malis, the Market Manager at email@example.com or visit Lawrenceville United online at www.lunited.org.
Ohio Valley Hospital/Kennedy Township 5K
The 35th annual Ohio Valley Hospital and Kennedy Township 5K is scheduled this Saturday, May 14. The race begins at 8 a.m. and will take place rain or shine and will begin and end at Ohio Valley Hospital and pass through the heart of Kennedy Township.
Race participants, volunteers and sideline cheerleaders are all welcome to attend. A continental breakfast and awards ceremony will be held after the race for all participants and volunteers. Online registration for the race is available at www.active.com. Applications are also available at Ohio Valley Hospital’s information desk and the Kennedy Township Municipal Building. For more information please contact Megan Eaton at 412-777-6313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Castle Shannon Book Sale
Friends of the Castle Shannon Library is hosting its annual book sale this weekend. The book sale starts Friday, from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. and concludes on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. For more information please contact the library at 412-563-4552. The Castle Shannon Library is located at 3677 Myrtle Avenue.
The 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon took place on Sunday, May 1. This year’s event saw over 4,500 participants that came from 49 states and 12 countries. Also, more than 15,000 people ran in the half marathon that day.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Tuesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Northside (Mobile Office)
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Lawrenceville (Mobile Office)
279 Fisk Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Thursdays - 11 am - 4 pm