Yes You Can! Savings Tips for People with Disabilities

This webinar describes savings options available to individuals with disabilities that do not jeapordize public benefits.

Michael R. Rousch
Chris Rodriguez
Lindsay Ferguson
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
National Disabilities Institute
Consumer Federation of America
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material

A webinar hosted by the National Disability Institute on programs that encourage individuals with disabilities to develop money saving habits.

Chris Rodriguez, Senior Public Policy Advisor with the National Disability Institute, provides overviews of:

  • The Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act
  • Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)
  • Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS)

The Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, is a saving option for some people with disabilities and their families that protects their eligibility for public benefits. Up to $14,000 a year from multiple sources can be contributed to an ABLE account for qualified disability related expenses. Estimates are that over 10 million people are participating in a program. The ABLE National Resource Center is a collaborative of organizations that share the goal of accelerating the design and availability of ABLE accounts for the benefit of individuals with disabilities and their families.

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) are special bank accounts that help low income individuals and families save for things like education, purchasing a first home or starting a business. Workers use earnings from their work to set up an approved bank account for an IDA. Contributions may be matched with funds from State TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) programs or from special funds called "demonstration project" money. Over the last decade, more than 85,000 IDAs have been opened in programs administered by more than 1,100 sites across the country. The impact of this initiative has resulted in more than 9,400 new homeowners, 7,200 educational purchases and 6,400 small business start-ups and expansion purchases.

Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) allows a person with a disability to set aside otherwise countable income and/or resources for a specific period of time in order to achieve a work goal. A PASS account can be used for supplies to start a business, school expenses, equipment and tools, transportation, uniforms and other items or services needed to reach an employment goal. Under PASS, persons with disabilities can set aside money for purchases, installment payments, or down payments for things like a vehicle, wheelchair, or a computer if needed to achieve their work goal.

America Saves, a national campaign that uses the principles of social marketing and behavioral economics to motive and support low to moderate income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth, is reviewed. Motivational and information resources information are available.

What the experts say

As increasing numbers of adults with disabilities participate in K-12 career and technical and adult/postsecondary education, there has been an increase in the number of adults with disabilities in the workforce. Consequently, adults with disabilities are becoming increasingly responsible for managing benefits and general savings plans. The information and support offered in Yes You Can! provides important information about savings plans for individuals with disabilities and care takers. The presenters discuss the information from both a formal and a practical perspective providing adult education programs with valuable resources to support students. It is particularly valuable for adult education programs that combine traditional adult education with workforce training and community supports.

This resource presents useful information for those with diagnosed disabilities. The webinar clears up many misconceptions about savings accounts for individuals with disablities and their families. For instance, many people think that if they build up a savings account that they may lose benefits. The charts and other visuals in Yes You Can! are very good. The visual titled "America Saves Research" could be used in a discussion with students about how they should set money aside for savings. Instructors could also incorporate the Motivational Resources" into lesson plans or they could simply share them with students.

Yes You Can! is a useful financial literacy resource especially in the arena of savings. It can be used to complement curriculum emphasizing savings as a tool for financial independence. The presenters provide great resources about the savings plans and cite laws that are in place to assist in savings. It would be of value to instructors who are planning lessons on the topic of finances and have students with diagnosed disabilities. The resource could also be used in teacher professional development.

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