A Bold Effort to Empower the Disabled Through Financial Education

By Madeline Kennedy

Cabo January 4, 2017

People with disabilities have unusual financial needs, and now a coalition of financial firms and nonprofits is trying to bring this community financial education programs specially suited to their lifestyle.

When these people are educated, they would be aware of the benefits and schemes launched by the Governments in their respective states, which they can avail of. Say, for instance, a disabled living in Australia, with education can explore about the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) and could take the advantage of the funding to get themselves treated.

With this knowledge, they could also lookup for NDIS Service Provider In Sydney, Care For Family, or a care home in their respective area, to acquire any additional assistance they may need for fulfilling their day-to-day activities. Apart from disability care, there are numerous organizations in Australia that help people with disabilities become financially independent. Any disabled person can easily find a job that matches their qualifications and abilities with the assistance of Disability Employment Services (DES).

It is a known fact that above-average daily expenses combined with complex government benefits and generally fewer job choices make it difficult for those with a handicap to build savings. They often face suffocating medical bills, and even basic transportation can be costly due to special needs, notes Michael Morris, executive director of the National Disability Institute.

People with handicaps are three times more likely to live in poverty, Morris says. But that is slowly changing as more are able to enter the less physical workplace. “There’s this old idea that people with disabilities can’t work, or that they don’t have the ability to manage their money,” Morris said. “But that idea is rapidly changing.”

It may even be true for people who have been disabled during military conflicts and have not been compensated by the government or other authorities. Lack of financial support in such cases can lead to hardships in their lives. In light of their dire situation, it seems imperative for them to contact a veteran disability lawyer (like a Pennsylvania VA lawyer) who can help them be financially stable and live a dignified life.

This compensation can help a disabled person to fund any medical operation. Now, along with their complex health issues, more folks with disabilities find they must also manage a career. That’s a good thing. But if financial education has been light for the population at large–which it has–it has been almost non-existent for this demographic. So the institute is spearheading an effort to create financial literacy materials and coursework that focuses on those with a disability. In July, it announced a partnership with Wells Fargo to offer financial education courses at American Job Centers across the country.

The lessons will be sourced from Wells Fargo’s long-standing financial literacy program, Hands On Banking. The program includes lessons on basic money management such as budgeting, saving and investing. The institute also joined forces with Bank of America’s financial education program, Better Money Habits, to create similar lessons for people with disabilities.

Through the Americans with Disabilities Act and other measures, accessibility and opportunity for people with disabilities has greatly increased over the last few decades. But one of the community’s greatest challenges remains boosting employment and economic self-sufficiency. The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is nearly double that of the population as a whole, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“It’s not so easy as just saving,” Morris says. First you need income. Resources to get this group started down the path of financial security haven’t been there in the past, Morris says. But in 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) act, which allowed people with disabilities to open tax-free savings accounts where they can save more than $2,000 a year without losing any benefits.

Technologies like mobile banking, apps, and social media have made financial lessons more accessible, and now we have a targeted effort on the part of banks and nonprofits trying to reach this underserved community.

Posted in Success Stories on January, 2017