Why Assets Matter

People who live with disabilities often have less income and fewer assets than the rest of the population. If you depend on public benefit programs, it can be hard to think about saving money for the future. If you live only on the money you get from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) you will be living below the poverty level. Many programs have asset limits that make it hard to save money.

It can seem like public benefit programs are a trap; they don’t give you enough money to cover all your expenses and they restrict your options for building assets and making more money. And, if you want to make a change in your life, it can be hard to know and follow all the rules that you need to in order to keep your benefits.

Assets are an important part of becoming financially secure and more independent. With assets you will be able to cope with unexpected expenses that may come up in your life. You can also build assets to achieve a particular goal, like a really fun vacation or a computer or even owning your own home. Even if you face obstacles that make it hard to save money, building assets should be a priority. If you don’t have assets, it is much harder to become economically secure.

Assets give you an economic cushion and open the door to more opportunities. Careful planning can make it possible to build wealth, buy a home, or start a business, while still having enough money to live on. The economic stability that comes with assets can help you meet your goals, let you work toward freedom from dependence on benefits, and increase your wealth.

You can use assets for a variety of needs:
  • To help you pay for unexpected expenses and help you make it though emergencies
  • To help you meet a specific goal like buying a home or car, or paying for school

Financial Literacy

Developing a general understanding of finances — called “financial literacy” is important for everyone. Financial literacy includes skills such as budgeting and long-term financial planning. Financial literacy is especially important if you have to follow the low-income and asset rules of public benefit programs.

Learning about finances can help you do big things like pay for college, buy a house, or plan for old age. It can also help you stay away from scams and prepare for unexpected expenses and difficult life events.

There are several reasons financial literacy is especially important for people with disabilities:

  • People with disabilities often have higher out-of-pocket costs for everyday activities.
  • People with disabilities may have high medical costs. In fact, medical debt is a major cause of bankruptcy for all people.
  • Relying on public benefit programs is hard. There are a lot of rules and restrictions about money and assets that most nondisabled people don’t ever have to think about.

For general information about financial literacy, with tips and tricks on how to save, have a look at Money Management International.