We are excited to share that Congress has taken up bi-partisan legislation that will allow employers to extend the same benefits to people with differing abilities that they offer to all other employees.
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D- NY-3) with Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2) have introduced the ABLE Employment Flexibility Act (H.R. 4672). This bill will allow employers to make contributions to ABLE accounts in the same way they make contributions to 401(k) accounts. Now we need this legislation to gain support so that it can pass the House and Senate and the President can sign it into law.
As part of our mission to show what people with differing abilities can do, John’s Crazy Socks advocates for the rights of our colleagues and all people with differing abilities. Past advocacy efforts have seen John and Mark testify before Congress twice and speak at the United Nations. We have been working with members of Congress and advocacy groups to create legislation that will allow employers to extend the same benefits to people with differing abilities that they offer to all other employees. That work has resulted in the introduction of the ABLE Employment Flexibility Act (H.R. 4672).
Most people know that employers can make contributions into employee 401(k) retirement plans. However, if a person with a disability has too much money in a 401(k) plan, it could cause them to lose important medical benefits. 401(k) plans do not work for all employees with a disability. Congress did authorize the creation of ABLE accounts, which allow individuals with a disability to save for retirement and funds in an ABLE account are shielded from benefit calculations so a person can save and not lose benefits. However, employers are currently not allowed to contribute to ABLE accounts.
The ABLE Employment Flexibility Act (H.R. 4672) would right this wrong and treat all workers equally by allowing employers to contribute to ABLE accounts. This bill will allow ABLE-eligible workers to permit an employer to make contributions to a 529A account in lieu of contributions to the employer’s defined contribution plan. This is so important for people with differing abilities because under current law an employer that offers employees with a disability the choice to have employer contributions that would be made to the retirement plan instead contributed to a 529A account would jeopardize the tax-qualified status of the retirement plan.
Mark X. Cronin, co-founder of John’s Crazy Socks said, “This bill is deeply personal for us as it affects John, who has Down syndrome, our work colleagues with differing abilities and our business. To us, this bill rights a wrong and addresses an issue of equality. It encourages employment of people with a disability and promotes savings. It permits workers with a disability to receive retirement benefits in a way that does not diminish their benefits. That is why it has bi-partisan support.”
As members of the CEO Commission on Disability Rights, John and Mark have worked with Congressional leaders and their staffs to help craft this legislation and to have it introduced. In particular, they worked with Congressman Tom Suozzi who represents the district where John’s Crazy Socks has its office and warehouse.
“I am so thankful that Congressman Suozzi took the time to listen and understand this issue,” said John Cronin, co-founder of John’s Crazy Socks. “He is standing up for my colleagues and all people with differing abilities.”
Mark and John have written to every member of the House Ways and Means Committee to ask them to support this legislation and have offered to meet with the members of the Committee and to testify before the Committee. They will continue to work with the CEO Commission on Disability Employment and advocacy groups like the National Down Syndrome Society to pass this legislation.
“It may seem like a small technical matter,” said Mark, “but it will make a difference for thousands of workers with a disability. We ask everyone to contact their Congressional representatives and ask them to support equality and fairness for people with a differing ability. Ask them to support the ABLE Employment Flexibility Act (H.R. 4672).”
For more information about John’s Crazy Socks, visit our webpage, Facebook page, Instagram account or YouTube channel. You can also contact us at 631-760-5625 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.