August 2021, Vol. 7, No. 7
RAISE The Standard Newsletter
Raising the Standard for Young Adults with Disabilities
Technical Assistance and Resources for RSA-funded
Parent Training and Information Centers
Two older female teenagers counting cash and coins and sorting it into various jars.


The road to financial empowerment means the ability—and the confidence—to make positive financial decision that promotes long-term financial stability and well-being. It can be especially challenging for people with disabilities. According to the National Disability Institute, there are 4 key steps:

  1. Financial Education – Building information and skills.
  2. Financial Capability – Making informed choices and taking action.
  3. Financial Wellness – Meeting financial obligations.
  4. Financial Empowerment – Feeling in control of personal finances.

In this issue of RAISE, we will explore each step.


From “You can’t” to “I will.”

In August, our “Perspective” piece unpacks a movement!

We look at how the “perspectives” of organized and ambitious advocates in Pennsylvania brought public attention—and change—to a system that was designed to keep people with disabilities poor, dependent, and out of the mainstream.

The #IWANT TO WORK campaign represents a significant victory and an important step forward in one state’s Employment First efforts to help people with disabilities who want to work have the ability to get and keep competitive integrated employment. Pennsylvania Act 69, signed in July 2021 by PA Governor Tom Wolf, expands eligibility criteria for the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) program. Passage of the Act was driven by disability advocates, including RAISE’s own Dr. Josie Badger.

It all started with the words “you can’t”

Those are two words that never sat well with me. I’m not sure if it’s because I come from a long line of strong-willed, hard-working individuals; because I am an only child; or because I had to fight for everything due to my disability. No matter the reason, “you can’t” is the spark that ignites my knee-jerk reaction of “I will.” This is potentially where Act 69, Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities; Workers with Job Success, began.
-  Dr. Josie Badger

Q: What is Act 69?

A: Act 69 enables individuals on MAWD in Pennsylvania to seek and accept higher-paying jobs; accept a pay raise or promotion at their current employment; and/or work more hours.

Q: Why is it important?

A: Too often, people with disabilities must turn down jobs or promotions to keep their income under the limit for Medicaid, especially for Home and Community-Based Services Waiver programs that provide services and supports aimed at achieving and enhancing independence.


Teens Talking Money

YouTube sensation Ryan Trahan says, “Money can be fun!” Speaking directly to teens, he offers youth-friendly money tips for teens and young adults. His message is to take charge!

  1. Don’t just spend your money. Invest in items that can make you money. Let your money multiply.
  2. Build the habit of saving money. Save half of every dollar you make.
  3. Track income and spending by logging it.
  4. Get educated about money and finance.
  5. Be smart about debt. Don’t overspend on higher education.
  6. Making money can be fun! It does not have to be drudgery.
  7. Start a business doing what you like.

Want more of Ryan?

Viewed more nearly 13 million times, Ryan shows the power of investing money and a vision for how to leverage it over time.


Teen-aged male counting US Dollar bills - closeup of money
In this issue, we offer you THREE tools to explore

#1: A Guide Book — Your Money, Your Goals: Focus on People with Disabilities was developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It is designed to empower the disability community. The 66-page guide is packed with useful information and resources. There is even a guide on page 11 to help jump start “The Money Conversation.”

#2: A Video —A credit cards is important tool in the world of cyber purchases. But there are important things to know about how and when to use a card.

#3: Four popular apps used by teens and families

  • Mint is the #1 most downloaded personal finance app. Easy to use, and free. Learn about Mint >>

  • GreenLight is a debit card and app where teens earn money through chores, set savings goals, spend wisely and invest. Parents set flexible controls and get real-time notifications every time their kids spend money. The card rewards 1% cash back and 2% on their savings balances. Learn about GreenLight >>

  • FamZoo is designed for children and teens of all ages. It designates a purpose for every single dollar a teen earns and spends, while also creating incentives for them and helping track savings progress. Learn about FamZoom >>


piggybank sitting on a calculator - circular photo icon

August is #ABLEtoSav

Month 2021

This month ABLE National Resource Center is hosting events and share ABLE tools, including panels with ABLE Ambassadors, podcasts, informational videos, “Ask an ABLE Account Owner” forums, and more!

Q: What is an ABLE Account?

A: An ABLE account is a tax-free savings vehicle for people with disabilities. ABLE accounts allow people with a disability to save without disqualifying them from government benefits such as SSI, Medicaid, and means-tested programs such as HUD and SNAP/food stamps. With ABLE accounts in 43 states, about 91,000 Americans have saved more than $759 million, an average of more than $8,300 per person.

Q: Are there limits?

A: Yes! There are rules and annual limits. The total annual contribution by all participating “contributors” for any given tax year is currently $15,000. The amount may be adjusted periodically for inflation. ABLE account owners who work under the ABLE to Work Act may contribute up to an additional $12,760 (2021) or their gross income for that taxable year, whatever is less, into their ABLE account. Some states allow more. For example, residents of Alaska can contribute $15,950 and residents of Hawaii can contribute $14,680. They may do this if they have not contributed to an employer sponsored retirement plan that year. The total aggregate account limit, over time, is subject to state-specific limits for education-related 529 savings accounts. Many states have set this limit at more than $500,000 per account.


Scrabble letters spelling out the word money laying on top of US Dollar bills

Strategies for Providing Support

For many youth with disabilities, it is important to offer supports to help them manage money and financial matters as much as possible. Don’t know where to start? Wonder what skills are needed, and what support can be put in place? Check out these tips from CPIR®:


Icon with books on a shelf and book titles that contain dollar signs
The National Disability Institute is dedicated to the financial wellness of people across the spectrum of disability, offering training, information, and financial coaching.

Hands on Banking® Resource Mapping offers a means to enhance community collaboration and to improve the quality of referrals that support a participant’s progress towards financial capability that improves outcomes.

CPIR offers a resource for “Getting Ready When Your Teen Reaches the Age of Majority.”

GPO, a Federal Credit Union in upstate New York offers a range of youth-focused, user-friendly animated videos on topics like taxes, saving money, loans, building a budget, credit scores, and more. Click here to access a few quick videos that explain and interpret key financial information to help students make sense of money >>

Cents and Sensibility is a 60-page guide to money management for people with disabilities developed in 2013.

LEAD Center has produced a webinar on financial well-being for people with disabilities.

Did you know?
People with disabilities can save money received through stimulus checks and other COVID-19 relief programs indefinitely without losing out on their Supplemental Security Income benefits thanks to a recent rule change. Previously, Economic Impact Payments (as known as “stimulus checks”) would not be considered income for SSI recipients and that they would be excluded from resources for 12 months. A new decision makes it clear that now that exclusion has no end date.

Study Money is designed to help people with disabilities and their families and advocates learn about managing money.


This month, we hear from RAISE blogger Anomie Fatale as she shares her journey to employment. On track to becoming a doctor or medical researcher, she experienced a major surgical complication that caused lifelong weakness in all four of her limbs. She describes her journey to employment and her realization that the system of supports she needed to live would limit her ability to earn a living:

“People have asked me if the symptoms kept me from school and why I never went back to finish my degree. The answer wasn’t because I physically couldn’t. It was because of all the income limits put on people with disabilities in the U.S. making it not worth it to have a career.”
- Anomie Fatale


ABLE to Save has a series of webinars this month that can be viewed at any time.
Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.
Executive Editor:
Josie Badger
Visit our Website:
The RAISE Technical Assistance Center is working to advance the accessibility of its digital resources, including its websites, enewsletters and various digital documents.
RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.
US Department of Education official seal
The RAISE Center is a project of the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and is funded by the US Department of Education's Rehabilitation Service Administration. The contents of this resource were developed under a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Education (H235G200007)). However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and should not assume endorsement by the federal government.