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Report: Adults with Disabilities Continue to Be Economically Shortchanged

A new report from the National Disability Institute (NDI) shows that 24 years after the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law and guaranteed all individuals with disabilities the opportunity to achieve “economic self-sufficiency,” people with disabilities are less financially stable than people without disabilities.

Based on data collected for a study released last year, this report highlights a nationwide snapshot for the first time of the financial capability and financial wellness of adults with disabilities.

NDI’s report, Financial Capability of Adults with Disabilities – Findings from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation 2012 National Financial Capability Study, analyzed data from 1,363 of the more than 25,000 respondents to the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) self-identifying as “permanently sick, disabled, or unable to work.” The results provide insight on the financial capability of many Americans with disabilities. According to U.S. Census data, nearly one in three people with disabilities in the United States lives in poverty, a figure nearly double the national poverty rate.

Report highlights include the following:

  • 78 percent of people with disabilities found it difficult to make ends meet compared with 56 percent of people without disabilities.
  • 70 percent of people with disabilities responded that they could not come up with $2,000 in an emergency compared with 37 percent of people without disabilities.
  • 44 percent of people with disabilities had unpaid medical bills compared with 25 percent of people without disabilities.
  • 81 percent of people with disabilities did not have an emergency fund to cover three months of expenses compared with 54 percent of people without disabilities.
  • Only 30 percent of respondents with disabilities paid their credit card in full each month compared with 50 percent of respondents without disabilities.
  • 41 percent of people with disabilities used methods of nonbank borrowing, such as a pawn shop or payday loan, compared with 29 percent of people without disabilities.
  • 50 percent reported that they were “not at all satisfied” with their current financial condition compared with 30 percent of people without disabilities.

While the participants in the study represent only a segment of people with disabilities, their responses tell an all-too-common story for many people in the disability community,” said Michael Morris, executive director of NDI and a co-author of the report. “More than 24 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, these results show our nation is falling short of meeting the promise of economic self-sufficiency the ADA guarantees. The status quo is unacceptable. Working together, we must do better.”

NDI, the first national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to building a better economic future for people with disabilities, also outlined the organization’s recommendations on how to move forward and foster collaboration to improve the financial capability of people with disabilities. Recommendations included designing and testing innovative intervention strategies, establishing a cross-system national task force to build a collaboration strategy, and improving available information about people with disabilities and their financial capability.

A digital copy of the report is available for download at http://bit.ly/NDI_Report_2014.

This article was adapted from information provided by NDI.

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