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Point of View: Changing how the disability community views saving
Palm Beach Post - 10/10/2019
Nearly 20 years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and all places that are open to the general public. Simply put, the law ensures that individuals with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
But the disability community still faces significant barriers to financial wellness. Why is that?
According to the National Disability Institute, the relationship between poverty and disability is well documented, and individuals with disabilities often have limited employment options and earnings. Most importantly, if an individual is receiving federal benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid, there are additional challenges when it comes to financial planning, specifically, the $2,000 asset limit that has previously forced this population to spend rather than save.
With an estimated 13.4 percent of Floridians reporting a disability, it's important that we all do our part to educate this community on how they, too, can save. Especially because this community has been told, for years, that they aren't able to do so.
On Saturday, we celebrate National Savings Day, which provides an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to educate themselves on the saving options available to them. With the passage of the Achieving A Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014, Florida's qualified ABLE program, ABLE United soon followed, allowing thousands of individuals with disabilities and their families to become savers and investors for the very first time.
Now children and adults living with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, as well as other cognitive, developmental and mental health disabilities have a choice to not just save, but grow their savings tax-free, without jeopardizing federal benefits.
It takes all of us to educate and inform a community this diverse to change the way individuals with disabilities view saving and investing money. By working together, we can improve the overall quality of life for our loved ones and help them to achieve a better life experience.
JOHN FINCH, TALLAHASSEE
Editor's note: Finch serves is director of ABLE United at the Florida Prepaid College Board.
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