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Martin Luther King Jr. is jostled in Memphis as the march he's leading on March 28, 1968 turns violent. Photo courtesy University of Memphis Libraries.

Featured Documentary: King's Last March

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. More than four decades later, King remains one of the most vivid symbols of hope for racial unity in America. But that’s not the way he was viewed in the last year of his life.

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in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Allow people on government assistance to build assets

File under: personalfinance

5 (2 votes)

From: Jo Ann T., St. Paul, MN

Many who are experiencing poverty are excluded from being able to build assets, such as savings accounts, vehicles, burial plots, life insurance policies, stocks and bonds. Those who rely on government assistance in the form of medical assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), food stamps, Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are not allowed to build any type of nest egg for themselves. If a participant in any of these programs has an asset over the amount allowed, they must first "spend it down," in other words, sell it and live off the money before they can become eligible for the program.

I train low-income community members in becoming leaders in the community, so that they can become change agents in the area of poverty. In a recent class that I was teaching, we discussed building a small nest egg while on Social Security Disability. My students' idea was to allow people to save two times their monthly grant per year. So someone who receives $500 per month could save up to $1000 per year. They could continue to build on this each year, but never exceed more than an additional $1000 per year. My students said the would use these savings to make car repairs or even pay their utility bills after a cold winter.


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American RadioWorks |
Martin Luther King Jr. is jostled in Memphis as the march he's leading on March 28, 1968 turns violent. Photo courtesy University of Memphis Libraries.

Featured Documentary: King's Last March

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. More than four decades later, King remains one of the most vivid symbols of hope for racial unity in America. But that’s not the way he was viewed in the last year of his life.

Recent Posts

  • 02.04.16

    When School Vouchers Are Not a Leg Up

    School voucher programs are controversial because they allow students to use public funds to pay for private school. A new paper is one of the first to show a school voucher program actually lowering student test scores.
  • 01.28.16

    Learning Financial Literacy

    Most teenagers are not learning about personal finance in school, according to an annual survey on financial literacy. Our guest this week says that needs to change.
  • 01.21.16

    Questioning Inequalities in Higher Ed

    College was once considered the path of upward mobility in this country, and for many people, it still is. But research shows that the higher education system can actually work against poor and minority students, because they often end up at colleges with few resources and low graduation rates.
  • 01.15.16

    Learning as a Science

    What does research say about how students learn best? A group of deans from schools of education around the country has united to make sure future teachers are armed with information about what works in the classroom.