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 benefits 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 below the poverty level. Many other programs have asset limits that make it hard to save money.

It can seem like public benefits 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 try and follow all the rules that you need to in order to keep your benefits.

Building assets is an important part of becoming financially independent. 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 (or “financial literacy”) and skills such as budgeting and long-term financial planning is important for everyone. But it is especially important if you have to follow the low-income and asset rules of public benefits 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 have higher out-of-pocket costs for everyday activities
  • People with disabilities can have high medical costs (and medical debt is a major cause of bankruptcy for all people)
  • Relying on public benefits programs is hard. There are a lot of rules and restrictions about money and assets that most people don’t ever have to think about