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 benefit programs, it can be especially hard to think about saving money for the future, because public benefits programs don’t supply you with much income and many programs, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and MO HealthNet, have asset limits that make it hard to save money and build up assets. However, there are ways of building up your assets even if you are on public benefits. This article will explain how to do that.

Building up your assets means accumulating wealth by saving money or investing it. Building up assets can include putting money into the bank, buying stocks, putting money into a retirement account, or buying a home. It’s important to learn about how to save up money and build up your assets for many reasons:

  • Assets are an important part of becoming financially secure and more independent.
  • With assets, you will be able to cope with unexpected expenses that may come up.
  • Building up your assets can help you achieve your goals, like paying for school, going on vacation, buying a computer, starting a business, or even owning your own home.

Even if you face obstacles that make it hard to save money, building up assets should be a priority. The economic stability that comes with assets can help you meet your goals, let you work toward freedom from dependence on benefits, and build up your wealth. The good news is that anybody can build up assets, even people who have low incomes or who are on public benefits.

Financial Literacy

Developing a general understanding of money and finances — called “financial literacy” — is important for everyone. Financial literacy includes skills such as budgeting and long-term financial planning. Financial literacy is especially important if you have to follow the strict rules about income and resources that many public benefits programs have.

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 often have higher out-of-pocket costs for everyday activities.
  • People with disabilities may have high medical costs. In fact, 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 nondisabled people don’t ever have to think about.

For general information about financial literacy, with tips and tricks on how to save, have a look at Money Management International. You can also read EQUITY: Asset Building for People with Disabilities, a Guide to Financial Empowerment.