More than two-thirds of survey participants report their financial stability has been negatively impacted after diagnosis
A groundbreaking survey conducted by National Disability Institute (NDI) and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) says three out of four people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) have difficulty covering their monthly expenses, and more than two-thirds report their financial stability declined after diagnosis.
More than 3,000 people with MS representing all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico participated in the survey. NDI and MSAA conducted the survey as part of a financial wellness education initiative launched with the support of a grant from Acorda Therapeutics.
The survey report, “Financial Wellness Among Individuals Living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS),” reveals that despite high education levels, which usually correspond with higher incomes, lower unemployment and poverty rates, and limited dependence on public benefits, many people with MS struggle financially, have difficulty maintaining or securing employment after diagnosis, and lack awareness of financial information and programs to help them build brighter financial futures. The survey found:
- 67% of participants report their financial stability decreased after MS diagnosis.
- 79% have difficulty meeting monthly expenses.
- Nearly 74% were neither aware of nor had used available financial stability programs.
- More than half have no “trusted point of contact” for financial information or rely on family for advice.
- More than half worry that earnings or savings will negatively impact public benefits.
- 61% reported an annual household income under $50,000.
According to the survey, while 98% of participants graduated high school, 81% attended college and 15% held graduate or professional degrees, only one-third of participants reported being employed. The survey also revealed the intermittent diagnosis and nature of MS bouts can limit work and cause underemployment, jeopardizing economic stability.
“This survey not only exposes important truths about the state of financial wellness for people with MS but also sheds light on the lack of economic stability for most Americans with disabilities. The latest Census data shows nearly 1 in 3 people with disabilities lives in poverty — nearly double the national average and one of the highest poverty rates of any underserved population in America,” says Michael Morris, executive director, National Disability Institute.
“As the results of our survey clearly show, the impact of MS extends well beyond physical health. The effect on families and their financial well-being can be equally as — and sometimes more — challenging than managing the disease itself,” says Bob Rapp, MSAA’s chief operating officer.
“People living with MS often face financial challenges related to their disability. They therefore urgently need access to information that can help them protect their financial future,” says Ron Cohen, MD, president and CEO of Acorda Therapeutics.
To access the full survey report, visit www.realeconomicimpact.org/financialwellness.
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