Americans with Disabilities Act
FDIC to Focus in Increasing Banking Access for People with Disabilities

In 2015 at the National Disability Institute’s summit on the Americans with Disabilities Act, Chairman Gruenberg shares key FDIC data on the banking practices of people with disabilities and announces a partnership with the NDI to help improve their access to banking services.  

Until recently, little was known about the banking status of households headed by people with disabilities. Are many such households unbanked? Do they use mainstream banking services? Would they benefit from access to mobile financial services?

At a July 22nd summit hosted by the National Disability Institute (NDI) commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Chairman Martin Gruenberg shared FDIC research findings that shed light on the banking practices of this segment of the population.

Citing data from the FDIC 2013 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, conducted jointly with the U.S. Census Bureau, Chairman Gruenberg said that “households headed by individuals with a disability . . . are less likely than the general population to have a bank account, and more likely to use alternative financial services even when banked.” In addition, he noted: “For households headed by a working-age individual with a disability, one in six (18.4 percent) are unbanked and more than one in four (28.1 percent) are underbanked. In short, nearly half (46.5 percent) of these households rely on providers outside of the financial mainstream for some or all of their financial services.” As a benchmark, according to the 2013 survey, 7.7 percent (1 in 13) of households in the United States were unbanked in 2013, and 20.0 percent of U.S. households (24.8 million) were underbanked.

Noting that the FDIC’s focus is ensuring that all consumers have access to a banking relationship with an insured depository institution, Chairman Gruenberg pointed out that “one in five unbanked households in the United States (20.8 percent) is headed by a working-age individual with a disability.”

Turning to mobile banking, he said that the findings offer “intriguing possibilities for helping to expand economic inclusion.” Households headed by individuals with disabilities are less likely to use mobile banking, he said, observing that “less than 40 percent report having a smart phone.” Moreover, he added, “Even among banked households, those headed by an individual with a disability were only half as likely to use
mobile banking relative to others (14 versus 30 percent). This difference suggests an opportunity to learn whether and how mobile technology can be better used as a tool for financial inclusion for individuals with disabilities.”

At the conclusion of his remarks, Chairman Gruenberg announced that the NDI has agreed to help the FDIC find ways to improve access to banking services. “To this end, at the fall meeting of our Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion, a panel will be convened to identify additional opportunities for financial institutions to better serve individuals with disabilities. This will be a focus and priority for the FDIC going forward,” he said.

The above was in the FDIC Office of Communications’ publication at

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