Poverty Among Adults with Disabilities: Barriers to Promoting Asset Accumulation in Individual Development Accounts
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- Soffer, M., McDonald, K.E. & Blanck, P. Am J Community Psychol (2010) 46: 376. doi:10.1007/s10464-010-9355-4
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Adults with disabilities disproportionally experience poverty. We examine one novel strategy to promote economic well-being among adults with disabilities living in or near poverty, namely Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). IDAs are designed to help individuals save money and subsequently accumulate assets. Although adults with disabilities account for the majority of IDA participants, scant attention has been paid to their IDA saving performance. We describe the significance of accumulating assets, particularly as it relates to adults with disabilities. We then map the nature of IDA programs and analyze barriers to participation in IDAs and asset accumulation related to conflicting federal policies and a lack of sensitivity to disability-specific needs. We conclude by offering policy recommendations from our analysis, including the need to eliminate the means-tests used in welfare policies, de-linking participation in IDAs from employment status, and involving people with disabilities in designing and evaluating asset accumulation policies and programs.