Financial Education for People with Disabilities
Posted by Norma Garza, AVP Remote Transaction Resources, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 10/4/2013

Did you know...even if you currently don't have a disability, you have a 1 in 5 chance of acquiring one at some point in your work life?

In 2011, Acorda Therapeutics, a leader in pharmaceuticals for nervous system disorders, teamed up with National Disability Institute and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, to sponsor a Financial Wellness Webinar Series and survey of people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The survey results uncovered major areas of need for those living with MS, regarding their financial wellness and practices.

The survey uncovered the fact that:

  • 67% of respondents reported their financial lives are worse after MS diagnosis.
  • 79% have difficulty meeting monthly expenses.
  • Over 50% worry that earnings or savings will negatively impact public benefits.
  • Over 50% have no trusted point of contact for financial information or rely on family for advice.
  • Nearly 74% were neither aware of nor had used available financial stabilization programs.
  • 61% reported an annual household income under $50,000.

While the preceding survey was only for people with MS, disabilities come in many forms and can affect anyone at any time. The Americans with Disabilities Act has done an excellent job of addressing and assisting with discrimination issues and ensuring adherence to accommodations for people with disabilities. In addition there are a number of disabled specific and general types of associations, organizations, and agencies ready and willing to assist people with disabilities. What is not as prevalent is financial education for people with disabilities.

As such, if a member with a disability needed financial assistance would you be able to assist them? Does your credit union offer assistance/guidance to someone with a disability to help them become financially stable? I ask these questions because I have personally been touched by this very issue and have been looking for assistance/guidance on what to do to prepare for the future.

The last few years have brought about many changes in my life, not the least of which has been a change in the dynamics of my family. That being said - having been in the financial industry my whole career and working in every area you can imagine, i.e., teller, new accounts, managing a facility, lending, investments, small business, real estate, compliance, marketing, sales, human resources, strategic planning, insurance, and the list goes on, you would think I would have every area of financial planning covered. Which (for the most part) my husband and I have done a decent job. Unfortunately, a sudden and devastating event left us at a loss; a loss which has come in the form of not knowing where to go for guidance on what to do next to prepare for the uncertainty of our financial future.

Fortunately, there are resources you can reference to assist your members and/or reference for yourself. These online resource tools are “financial education for people with disabilities” specific and could very well assist in preparing both your members and/or loved ones that may find themselves in need of such assistance as they forge ahead in a future of uncertainty. These online resource tools include:

1) The National Disability Institute (NDI)

2) The National Federation of Community of Credit Unions (NFCDCU)

3) NEFE

While no one knows what the future holds, what we do know is that we live and work in an environment of “People helping People.” Together with our financial expertise, we can work to “unite for good.”

Categories: Education & Training
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