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Monday, 11 December, 2017

Report Finds Adults with Disabilities Face Numerous Financial Challenges

Today, National Disability Institute (NDI) released the new report, Financial Capability of Adults with Disabilities: Findings from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation National Financial Capability Study. The report finds that, in the 27 years since the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, ensuring all individuals with disabilities the opportunity to achieve “economic self-sufficiency,” this population still faces numerous challenges and roadblocks to achieving financial inclusion and independence.

Based on data mined from the 2015 FINRA Investor Education Foundation National Financial Capability Study, this insightful report highlights the prevalence and impact of financial stress on adults with disabilities.

“Key to achieving the goals stated by the ADA is the ability of people with disabilities to become financially stable – generally only possible through employment, high quality and affordable health care and ready access to financial information and services,” Michael Morris, National Disability Institute Executive Director, said. “The findings from this study offer a foundation for understanding the financial capability of an important, but often overlooked, population. Public agencies, financial service providers and the disability community have the opportunity to work together to advance financial inclusion and enhance the financial capability of people with disabilities.”

FINRA Investor Education Foundation President Gerri Walsh added, “This new report greatly enhances our ability to understand the financial literacy, actions, attitudes and circumstances of adults with disabilities. National Disability Institute has put together the most comprehensive and timely analysis of its kind currently available. If we want to improve financial capability in America, we need to make certain our efforts address the needs of people with disabilities. NDI’s report details what exactly those needs are.”

The report findings provide an important lens on the financial challenges of Americans with disabilities:

  • Among adults ages 18-64, one in nine have a disability and, of those, one in three are employed.
  • People with disabilities are twice as likely to have income less than $35,000, leading to a high rate of skipped medical treatments compared to those without disabilities (46 percent vs. 25 percent).
  • People with disabilities are three times more likely to have extreme difficulty paying bills.
  • Fifty-five percent of people with disabilities reported that they could not come up with $2,000 for an emergency, compared to 22 percent of those without a disability.
  • Compared to people without disabilities, those with disabilities are more likely to be late on mortgage payments (31 percent vs. 14 percent), overdrawn on checking accounts (31 percent vs. 18 percent) and take loans from retirement accounts (23 percent vs. 10 percent).

National Disability Institute released the report during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Report co-authors and researchers, Nanette Goodman and Bonnie O’Day, presented the report highlights.

Two panels discussed the findings of the report and gave recommendations. The first panel, of federal agency representatives, discussed strategies and policy recommendations to reverse the report’s findings and their work to advance the financial capability of people with disabilities. Panelists included Annie Donovan, Director, CDFI Fund, Treasury; Dave Buchholz, Deputy Associate Director, Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, Federal Reserve Board; and Janet Gordon, Associate Director, Community Affairs, Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, FDIC.

The second panel, of individuals from the disability and research communities, provided context for the findings of the report. Panelists included Judy Heumann, Senior Fellow, Ford Foundation; Anil Lewis, Executive Director, Jernigan Institute, National Federation of the Blind; Gary Mottola, Research Director, FINRA Investor Education Foundation; and Susan Tachau, CEO, Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation.

A digital copy of the report is available for download in the Document Library section of NDI’s website. Photographs of the event are available upon request.

The report research was supported by a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.



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