1.1 million seniors and 1.7 million adults with a disability ages 25 to 64 do not have bank accounts
Washington, D.C. - On Thursday, March 17, U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Bob Casey (D-PA) and Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-SC) held a hearing entitled “Unbanked and Credit Invisible: Building Financial Inclusion for America’s Underserved Populations,” which examined the challenges faced by older adults and people with disabilities who do not have bank accounts and have little to no credit history, and therefore lack options to build wealth and access financial products and services. Chairman Casey highlighted his bipartisan ABLE Age Adjustment Act, which would provide 6 million additional Americans the opportunity to open an ABLE account and save for the future by extending access to people who acquired their disability before age 46. The current threshold is age 26.
Senators Casey and Scott also released a financial literacy booklet titled, “Building Financial Literacy: Information and Resources for People with Disabilities,” which provides specific strategies for people with disabilities to set up bank accounts, build credit, manage disability benefits and address debt.
“Millions of older adults and people with disabilities remain stranded on the sidelines of our Nation’s financial system. We have a responsibility to right this wrong,” said Chairman Casey. “We have to help all Americans find opportunities to save and build wealth, which is why my bipartisan ABLE Age Adjustment Act would allow millions more people build wealth and enjoy financial security without worrying about losing their vital federal benefits. I urge my colleagues to support passage of this bill and allow millions of Americans to become full participants in our financial system and save for their futures.”
Senator Casey’s ABLE Act, signed into law in 2014, makes it possible for people who acquired their disability before turning 26 to save money without risking loss of their federal disability benefits.
Chairman Casey invited Shelley Jaspering as a witness, who testified about the financial challenges she faces as a person with a disability without access to an ABLE account. She said, “With rising costs of basic needs (food, shelter, and utilities) finances cause stress. For instance, when there is a three paycheck month, it causes me to have to manage and cut my hours so that I don’t earn too much money and risk having my benefits cut... My message here is that disability is expensive and there are barriers to earning enough to cover those expenses.”
She also testified, “For someone like me who acquires a disability later in their working life, it can be difficult to find the financial resources and information to manage this new life. One thing that would help me is an ABLE account. I urge Congress to pass the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. I can't open an ABLE account because I became disabled at age 28, two years after the age limit. If I could save for the future, for repairs to a van, for repairs to my house, for repairs to my wheelchair, I wouldn't have to live in fear.”
Read more about the ABLE Age Adjustment Act here.