Report Finds Adults With Disabilities Remain Outside the Economic Mainstream

New report highlights the banking status and financial behavior of people with disabilities Washington, D.C.,
April 25, 2017

Today, National Disability Institute (NDI) released a new report titled Banking Status and Financial Behaviors of Adults with Disabilities: Findings from the 2015 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households. The report finds that, in the 27 years since the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, ensuring all individuals with disabilities the opportunity to achieve “economic self-sufficiency,” this population still faces numerous financial hurdles and roadblocks to financial inclusion.

Based on data mined from the 2015 FDIC National Survey on Unbanked and Underbanked Households, this insightful report highlights the financial choices and banking habits of adults with disabilities. This is the second report, based on FDIC data, that NDI has released in two years.

“Americans with disabilities face unique financial obstacles and challenges that separate them from their peers without disabilities,” National Disability Institute Executive Director, Michael Morris, said. “Today, with the release of this report, we now have a clearer picture of the challenges they face, but also the significant opportunities to design solutions.” Continued Mr. Morris, “It is essential that policymakers, financial institutions and community organizations rally around the report’s findings and recommendations, and begin to work together to ensure equal access and financial inclusion for people across the spectrum of disabilities.”

The report findings provide an important lens on the financial choices and decision-making of Americans with disabilities. Report highlights include:

  • Among those who are banked, more than 40 percent have a checking account, but do not have a savings account.
  • Only 40 percent of households with a disability save for unexpected expenses, compared with 61 percent of other households. In addition, savings are more likely to be kept at home or with family and/or friends rather than in a savings account.
  • Almost half of households with disabilities have no credit and are twice as likely to lack credit as households with no disability.
  • Households with disabilities face a digital divide; only half of households with a disability have internet access at home or a smart phone, compared with three-quarters of households without disability. Even among those who have access to technology, those with a disability are much less likely to use internet or mobile banking.
  • Forty percent of households with a disability use alternative financial services (AFS), compared with 25 percent of those without a disability.

National Disability Institute released the report findings today during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Mr. Morris, and researcher and co-author, Nanette Goodman, presented the report highlights. FDIC Senior Financial Economist, Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, Ryan Goodstein, provided an overview and historical perspective of the agency’s 2015 National Survey.

Two panels discussed the findings of the report and gave recommendations. The first panel, of federal agency representatives, discussed various strategies and policy recommendations to reverse the report’s findings, as well as their work to advance the financial capability of people with disabilities. Panelists included Janet Gordon, Associate Director, Community Affairs, FDIC; Don Dill, Senior Tax Analyst, Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC), IRS; and Jennifer Kemp, Director, Division of Youth Services, Employment & Training Administration (ETA), U.S. Department of Labor.

The second panel, of individuals with disabilities, provided context for the findings of the report from their own personal experiences. Panelists included Oscar Jimenez-Solomon, Research Coordinator, Columbia University; Donna Walton, Founder and CEO, LEGGTalk, Inc.; and Howard Rosenblum, Chief Executive Officer, National Association of the Deaf.

A digital copy of the report is available for download in the Resources section of the NDI website. Photographs of the event are available upon request.

The research and report were made possible through the generous support of JPMorgan Chase.

About National Disability Institute

National Disability Institute (NDI) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to building a better economic future for people with disabilities. The first national organization committed exclusively to championing economic empowerment, financial education, asset development and financial stability for all persons with disabilities, NDI affects change through public education, policy development, training, technical assistance and innovative initiatives. NDI and its Real Economic Impact (REI) Network have helped more than 2.3 million people with disabilities receive nearly $2.3 billion in tax refunds and credits. To learn more, visit Engage with NDI on Facebook: RealEconImpact or follow NDI on Twitter: @RealEconImpact. Take the pledge to DISABLE POVERTY at

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