CDCAN Reports: Governor Brown Signs ABLE Bill






Will Implement In California The New Federal Savings Program For People With Disabilities And People Who Are Blind



Governor Brown signed today two bills - AB 449 by Assemblymember Jacqui

Irwin (Democrat - Thousand Oaks, 44th Assembly District) and SB 324 by

Senator Fran Pavley (Democrat - Agoura Hills, 27th State Senate District),

that together will implement next year the new federal program called the

"Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act" in California, that will


allow eligible people with disabilities (including developmental) to save

money, including earned income, in special savings accounts that would not

be, up to a certain point, included in calculating that individual's income

for eligibility for supports and services.


    The federal ABLE Act allows individual states to establish ABLE

programs, under which a person with disabilities or a person who is blind

may establish a tax-favored savings account that may accept contributions

and make distributions for the individual to pay certain qualifying

disability related expenses.  The two bills - SB 324 and AB 449 would

implement the federal program in California.  Both bills take effect January

1, 2016.


    Assets in an ABLE account, up to a $100,000, are not taken into account

when determining eligibility for federal welfare benefit programs.  The

structure and tax treatment of the account generally follows the same rules

as a "529 educational savings account".  After-tax contributions are placed

in the account, amounts earned in the account are tax-deferred, and

distributions are not included in income so long as they are used for

qualifying disability related expenses.







AUTHOR: Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (Democrat - Thousand Oaks, 44th Assembly




    Enacts the California "Achieving a Better Life Experience Act", which

conforms the federal Personal Income Tax Law to the ABLE Act, that will

allow the creation of ABLE accounts in California and ensuring that ABLE

account earnings and distributions for qualified services are not included

in the eligible individual's income for state tax purposes.


    States that its provisions shall be "liberally construed to effectuate

its intent", and only become effective only if SB 324 (Pavley) is also



    Directs the ABLE Act Board to administer the program, annually prepare

and adopt a written statement of investment policy in a public hearing,

maintain separate accounting for each beneficiary, provide specified

information to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB), and grants it specified

powers, such as: (a) The power to sue and be sued, make and enter into

contracts to administer the program, and engage consultants. (b) Enter into

agreements with designated beneficiaries or eligible individuals to

establish and maintain ABLE accounts. (c) Make provisions to pay

administrative and operation costs. (d) Carry out the duties of this bill,

the ABLE Act, and any federal regulations. (e) Carry out studies and

projections to advise beneficiaries regarding expenses and levels of

financial participation. (f) Promulgate (propose), impose and collect

administrative fees in connection with transactions in the ABLE Act program

trust and provide for reasonable service charges, including cancellation

penalties. (g) Set minimum and maximum investment levels.  (h) Administer

ABLE Act program trust funds.  (i) Procure insurance against any loss and

insurance indemnifying any member of the board from personal loss, or

liability as a result of his, or her action, or inaction as member of the

Board. (j) Issue State regulations to implement the program, including

emergency State regulations.


    Requires the State Treasurer to appoint an executive director and

determine his or her duties, as well as fix the director's salary: (a)

States that the director serves at the pleasure of the Board. (b) Allows the

Board to authorize the director to enter into contracts or conduct


any business necessary on its behalf.


    Establishes the California ABLE Program Trust: (a) Requires the Board to

segregate monies into a program fund and an administrative fund, both of

which are continuously appropriated to the Board to implement the ABLE Act;

(b) Caps administrative costs at 3% of the incoming funds in each fiscal

year for the first five fiscal years and 1% for each fiscal year thereafter;

(c) Directs initial costs be funded by a loan from the General Fund

sufficient to fund the first two fiscal years' projected administrative

costs; (d) Allows transfers from the program fund to the administrative

fund, to pay operating costs in association with administering the ABLE

program trust


    Allows the State Treasurer, or the investment manager by contract with

the Board, to invest or reinvest funds in whole or in part: (a) Requires any

investment manager to place on file for public inspection specified

information, regarding investments no later than 30 days of the


close of each month: 


b) Requires all moneys paid by designated beneficiaries, or eligible

individuals in connection with accounts be deposited into the program fund

and be promptly invested and accounted for separately; (c) Allows deposits

and earned interest to be used for qualified disability


expenses; (d) Allows designated beneficiaries to direct the investment of

any contributions; (e) States that all assets of the trust are held in trust

for the beneficiary and no property rights exist in favor of the state;  (f)

Prohibits the state from transferring or using any assets of the trust.


    Requires the Board to market the program to residents, to the extent

funds are available.


    Provides that ABLE contributions and distributions below $100,000 don't

count when considering individual's eligibility for any means-tested state

or local program. 





LATEST ACTION 10/11/2015: SIGNED by Governor Brown.


NEXT STEPS: The new state law takes effect January 1, 2016, though actual

provisions in this or any bill may have later implementation dates.


WHO THIS BILL IMPACTS: People with disabilities (including developmental),

people who are blind, their families and others







AUTHOR: Senator Fran Pavley (Democrat - Agoura Hills, 27th State Senate




    Establishes a California Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE)

program, and generally conforms income tax law to the federal income tax

treatment of ABLE accounts.


    Provides that this bill shall only become effective if AB 449 (Irwin of

the current legislative session is enacted.


    Conforms or aligns, on or after January 1, 2016, California's Personal

Income Tax (PIT) Law to the federal Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section

529A, relating to qualified ABLE programs.


    Reduces the penalty for unqualified distributions from 10% to 2.5% for

state purposes.


    Provides that a copy of the report required to be filed with the US

Secretary of the Treasury under IRC Section 529A shall be filed, at the same

time and in the same manner, with the State's Franchise Tax Board (FTB).


    Creates the California ABLE Act Board (board) that consists of the

Treasurer, the Director of Finance, the State Controller, the Director of

the Department of Development Services, the Chairperson of the State Council

of Developmental Disabilities, the Director of the Department of

Rehabilitation, and the Chair of the State Independent Living Council, or

their designees. The Treasurer shall serve as chair of the board.


    Allows a person to make contributions for a taxable year, for the

benefit of an eligible individual for that taxable year, to an ABLE account

that is established for the purpose of meeting the qualified disability

expenses of the designated beneficiary of the account, if all of the

following are met:  (A) The designated beneficiary is limited to one ABLE

account; and, (B) The ABLE account is established only for a designated

beneficiary who is a resident of California.


    Provides that a contribution shall not be accepted if either of the

following occur:  (A) The contribution is not in cash; or,  (B) Except in

the case of contributions under IRC Section 529A(c)(1)(C), the contribution

to an ABLE account would result in aggregate contributions from all

contributors to the ABLE account for the taxable year exceeding the amount

in effect under IRC Section 2503(b) for the calendar year in which the

taxable year begins.


    Provides that the designated beneficiary shall retain ownership of all

contributions made to the designated beneficiary's ABLE account to the date

of utilization for qualified disability expenses, and all interest derived

from the investment of the contributions to the designated beneficiary's

ABLE account shall be deemed to be held in the ABLE program trust for the

benefit of the designated beneficiary. Contributions may not be pledged as

collateral for any loan.


    Requires the board to develop adequate safeguards to prevent aggregate

contributions on behalf of a designated beneficiary in excess of the maximum

contribution limits necessary to provide for the qualified disability

expenses of the designated beneficiary.


    Requires the board to provide an annual listing of distributions to

individuals with respect to an interest in an ABLE account to the FTB at a

time and in a manner and form as specified by the Franchise Tax Board.


    Requires the board to make a report to the appropriate individual of any

distribution to any individual with respect to an interest in an ABLE

account, at a time and in a form and manner as required by the Franchise Tax



    Requires the board to report the following to each designated

beneficiary on an annual basis:  (A) The value of the designated

beneficiary's account;  (B) earned interest;  (C) The rate of return of the

investments in the designated beneficiary's account for that reporting

period; and,  (D) Information on investments and qualified disability

expenses that designated beneficiaries can use to set savings goals and

contribution amounts.


    Requires the board to provide a means for designated beneficiaries to

express concerns or comments regarding the ABLE program trust and any

information required to be reported by this section.


    Provides that the ABLE program shall be construed liberally in order to

implement the legislative intent of the bill.


    Defines an "ABLE account" or an "account" as an account established and

owned by a designated beneficiary for the purpose of meeting the qualified

disability expenses of the designated beneficiary of the account.


    Defines "administrative fund" as a fund used to administer the ABLE



    Defines "board" as the California ABLE Act Board.


    Defines the "California ABLE Program Trust" or "ABLE Program trust" as

the trust created pursuant to the ABLE program.


    Defines an "eligible individual" as an individual who is eligible under

a qualified ABLE program for a taxable year if during that taxable year both

of the following are met:  (A) The individual is entitled to benefits based

on blindness or disability under Title II or XVI of the federal Social

Security Act, and that blindness or disability occurred before the date on

which the individual attained the age of 26; and,  (B) A disability

certification, as defined in the federal ABLE Act, is filed pursuant to the

requirements set forth in the federal ABLE Act.


    Defines a "designated beneficiary" as the eligible individual who

established an ABLE account and is the owner of the account.


    Defines the "federal ABLE Act" as the federal Stephen Beck Jr.,

Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014.


    Defines "investment management" as the functions performed by a manager

contracted to perform functions delegated by the board.


    Defines "investment manager" as a manager contracted to perform

functions delegated by the board.


    Defines "program fund" as a separate fund held within the California

ABLE Program Trust.


    Defines a "qualified ABLE program" or a "program" as a program

established to implement the federal ABLE act pursuant to IRC Section 529A.


    Defines "qualified disability expenses" as any expenses related to the

eligible individual's blindness or disability that are made for the benefit

of an eligible individual who is the designated beneficiary. These expenses

include education, housing, transportation, employment training and support,

assistive technology and personal support services, health, prevention and

wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees,

expenses for oversight and monitoring, funeral and burial expenses, and

other expenses, which are approved by the Secretary of the Treasury under

regulations and consistent with the purposes of the federal ABLE Act.





LATEST ACTION 10/11/2015: SIGNED by Governor Brown.


NEXT STEPS: The new state law takes effect January 1, 2016, though actual

provisions in this or any bill may have later implementation dates.


WHO THIS BILL IMPACTS: People with disabilities (including developmental),

people who are blind, their families and others






    A CDCAN (Marty Omoto, family member and advocate) youtube channel was

set up and has several videos dealing with current - and previous state

budget issues, disability and senior rights, and advocacy. 


    To see the current videos, including March 2014 San Andreas Regional

Center Aptos Legislative Breakfast, January 2014 panel discussion on

services for adults with autism spectrum and related disorders in Palo Alto,

and older videos including video of April 2003 march of over 3,000 people

with developmental disabilities, families, providers, regional centers and

others from the Sacramento Convention Center to the State Capitol (to attend

and testify at budget hearing on proposed massive permanent cuts to regional

center funded services, go to the CDCAN (Marty Omoto) Channel at:



    More videos - including new current videos (an interview with longtime

advocate Maggie Dee Dowling is planned, among others) - plus archive videos

of past events - will be posted soon.  






CDCAN Townhall Telemeetings, CDCAN Reports and Alerts and other activities

cannot continue without YOUR help. To continue the CDCAN website and the

CDCAN Reports and Alerts sent out and read by over 65,000 people and

organizations, policy makers and media across the State, and to continue and

resume CDCAN Townhall Telemeetings, trainings and other events, please send

your contribution/donation (please make check payable to "CDCAN" or

"California Disability Community Action Network" and mail to:     


1500 West El Camino Avenue Suite 499
Sacramento, CA 95833  
[replaces 1225 8th Street Suite 480, Sacramento, CA 95814]
Office Line: 916-418-4745  CDCAN Cell Phone: 916-757-9549 (replaced


Many, many thanks to all the organizations and individuals for their continued support that make these reports and other CDCAN efforts possible!

Uniform Holiday Schedule and Half Day Billing Statutes No Longer in Effect

2015/2016 Holiday Schedule Update

The statute requiring regional centers and service providers to follow the Uniform Holiday Schedule is no longer in effect [Welfare & Institutions Code Section 4692].  A federal district court in Sacramento on September 1, 2015 denied the State’s request that the court “vacate” or set aside its previous February 13th ruling that struck down two reductions known as the “mandatory uniform holiday schedule” and “half-day billing rule” impacting many regional center funded community based site-based programs serving people with developmental disabilities. Barring any other legal action by the State, the federal district court’s February 13th ruling that struck down those two reductions remains in effect.

On March 17th the Department of Developmental Services issued an official directive to the 21 non-profit regional centers announcing elimination of the “Uniform Holiday Schedule” and “Half-Day Billing Rule” reductions effective immediately.  On April 15th the State decided to appeal to the federal district court to “vacate” or set aside its previous February 13th ruling that struck down the two cuts, with a request that, if granted, would have reinstated those two reductions.  On September 1, 2015 the federal district court issued its order denying the State’s motion or request to “vacate” its previous ruling, and reinstate those two reductions.

As regional centers can no longer require uniform provider holidays, TCRC's Vendor Advisory Committee (VAC) created a mutually agreeable holiday schedule for FY 15/16 for TCRC's day program and transportation providers, and this holiday schedule was approved at the VAC meeting on September 3, 2015.  A similar schedule was in place before the enactment of WIC Section 4692.

Certain services that were previously included under WIC Section 4692, such as 028 socialization training programs, 605 adaptive skills trainer, 048 client/parent support behavior intervention training programs, 055 community integration training programs, 063 community activities programs, and 093 create arts programs, are not included under the VAC holiday schedule.

TCRC will not pay for day program and transportation services on these holidays.


DDS March 17, 2015 Notice

HALF DAY BILLINGS: February 13, 2015, a federal court issued a ruling that Half-Day Billing requirements could not be enforced until such time as the State of California had obtained CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) approval for the requirements.  Given the recent court decision, the half day billing statute is no longer in effect and there is only full day billing.    CLICK HERE FOR REGIONAL CENTER LETTER TO SERVICE PROVIDERS

Self-Determination Program

(Senate Bill 468)

Programa De Auto-Determinación - en español

New Video from DDS!

Self-Determination Program Enrollment (DDS)

Self-Determination Services (SDS) Overview

In October of 2013, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., signed into law, Senate Bill 468, establishing the Self-Determination Program. The Self-Determination program will provide children and adults served by the regional center, and their families more freedom, control, and responsibility in choosing services and supports to help them meet the goals in their Individual Program Plan (IPP).

When will the Self-Determination program be available?

California’s Department of Developmental Services submitted the required application to the Center of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) by December 31, 2014. However, due to a number of questions from CMS, the application will need to be re-submitted. When that happens, the 90-day time line begins again.

Who can get services and supports through the Self-Determination program?

To be eligible to receive services and supports through the Self-Determination program, you must be receiving or eligible to receive services from a regional center and must be at least three years old to enroll in the program.

Once the application is approved, the Department of Developmental Services will select the 114 individuals from Tri-Counties Regional Center (TCRC) to participate. This includes 16 individuals who are currently participating in TCRC’s Self-Determination pilot project, plus an additional 98 individuals served by TCRC.   Recent legislation may increase our numbers to include those coming from the developmental centers.

Individuals, who are interested in Self-Determination, will be required to attend an informational meeting about the program. At this meeting, people will learn about the opportunities and the increased responsibilities involved in accepting more control over coordinating their services. Understanding this information will help people decide if the Self-Determination Program is a good option for them.

If after the meeting, a person decides they would like to participate, TCRC will submit their name to DDS. Then, DDS will randomly select the initial participants from that list; taking into consideration the ethnicity, age, gender and the type of developmental disability of the person served.

For the second phase of the program, there will be no limits on how many people can participate in the program and anyone who receives regional center services can request to be part of the program.

What services are included in the Self-Determination Program?

In the Self-Determination Program, planning teams will use a person-centered planning process to develop all Individual Program Plans (IPPs). Persons served, and those who support them, will see many changes in the choice of services and supports available to them. For example, a person served may be able to receive services that regional centers are not allowed to pay for because of past changes to state law; services like camping, certain types of therapies, and behavior services.

Regular regional center services such as supported living services, independent living services and day program services will still be available and can be purchased through the Self-Determination program. Also, there may be new and different services available through local businesses or community agencies that can be purchased through the Self-Determination program.

How will the IPP process be different under the Self-Determination Program?

Self-Determination program participants will have the opportunity to be more active in creating IPPs and taking on more responsibility in the decision-making process for selecting services and supports. Participants will receive information and training from regional center staff about managing services and supports and hiring staff and agencies. Participants in the program have the option of using an “Independent Facilitator” who can help in planning their services and supports and other tasks related to managing their IPP.

How will budgets be determined under the Self-Determination Program?

Each participant will receive a budget based on the amount of money the regional center spent on services and supports for them from the year before. The budget amount can be changed by the IPP planning team if the participant has some sort of a change in circumstances, needs or resources.

For those who are new to the regional center system, or who have not had a year of regional center services, the planning team will determine the services and supports needed. Using this information, the regional center will put together a budget based on the average cost of similar services.

What is a Fiscal Management Service and what does it have to do with the Self-Determination program?

A Fiscal Management Service (FMS) is a service that helps a participant to manage their budgets under the Self-Determination program. The FMS representative will help the participant make sure that they have enough money to last throughout the year.

The FMS is a required part of the Self-Determination program by California law.  The FMS representative must be part of an agency that contracts with the regional center for services. The FMS representative cannot be a parent or family member of the participant on the Self-Determination program.

Self-Determination Advisory Committee

TCRC, in conjunction with the Central Coast Office of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities have been working together on a variety of activities in preparation for the Self-Determination Program.  Our first order of business was to select the members of the Self-Determination Advisory Committee.

We were fortunate that we received a large number of applicants from our community. TCRC worked with the Central Coast office of the State Council, to identify candidates who are individuals receiving services from the regional center as well as family members. In addition, the committee reflects the multicultural diversity of those we serve. We are thrilled to have such a talented group who will guide us as we move forward with the implementation of the Self-Determination Program.

The first Self-Determination Advisory Committee meeting was held on Tuesday, June 30, 2015. The committee learned about the Self-Determination Program as well as person-centered planning. They also received updates on the status of the waiver application to CMS.

The Self-Determination Advisory Committee will meet quarterly and the next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at the TCRC office in Santa Barbara.

What’s next?

At this time, we do not know when the Self-Determination program will begin.  And what the final rules about the program will be.

However, as we wait for more information about the Self-Determination program, TCRC is involved with the Self-Determination Committee through the Association of Regional Center Agencies (ARCA) to provide information and suggestions to the Department of Developmental Services about the program.

Thank you for your interest in the Self-Determination program and please check the Self-Determination page on the DDS website at: the most recent updates.

For more information, click on the links below:

Department of Developmental Disabilities Services:

Disability Rights California:

Autism Society Los Angeles County:

New TCRC Office in Simi Valley

en Espanol

The Tri-Counties Regional Center office in Simi Valley is moving February 9 - 20, 2015.

We will be available to support your needs during this transition. The new office will open on February 23, 2015.

Our phone and fax numbers will not change.

Telephone:   (805) 522-8030     
Call toll free:  (800) 517-2524
Fax:  (805) 522-8142 

Our New Address is:

Tri-Counties Regional Center
2635 Park Center Drive, Suite A
Simi Valley, CA 93065

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