From the Shriver Center:
People with disabilities have lower employment levels, report lower levels of savings, and are more likely to experience poverty than those without disabilities. The inextricable connection between disability and poverty requires special attention to developing policies and programs to give people the ability to save, acquire assets, and permanently escape poverty.
As a leader in the asset building and disability movement, the Shriver Center has hosted a webinar series on asset building for people with disabilities: Accessible Assets, Part 1 (November 2009) and Accessible Assets, Part 2 (February 2011). As part of this webinar series, we also developed comprehensive webinar resource pages that provide current research and reports on asset building in the disability community. Among these resources is a Clearinghouse Review law review article, Accessible Assets: Bringing Together the Disability and Asset-Building Communities, which the Shriver Center authored. The article provides a more in depth look at the ABLE Act, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and federal asset limit reform, among other barriers to savings for people with disabilities.
The CFED recently launched the SSI Asset Limit Reform Coalition as a way to raise awareness about this important issue and to gather support. The SSI Asset Limit Reform Coalition supports and advocates to raise asset limits and protect certain types of savings and investments for recipients of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
For people with disabilities, asset limits in SSI pose a significant barrier to savings. In terms of public policy, asset tests send the wrong message—that having assets is a bad thing. Raising or abolishing asset limits would send a clear message that savings and asset building are encouraged and important. The SSI Asset Limit Reform Coalition is committed to favoring legislation that proposes the following changes to the SSI program:
- Raise the asset limit and index the limit for inflation.
- For individuals under age 65, exclude $50,000 in retirement savings ($75,000 for a couple) from inclusion in the asset test and exclude Education Savings Accounts and Individual Development Accounts.
- For individuals age 65 or older, exclude up to $10,000 in retirement savings ($15,000 for a couple), and disregard one-third of the funds drawn down from retirement accounts when calculating household income.
- Remove the requirement that SSI recipients, if eligible, must apply for periodic payments from their retirement savings.
In order to create more asset building opportunities for people with disabilities please consider joining the SSI Asset Limit Reform Coalition!