Capacity to make financial decisions among people with mild intellectual disabilities

J Intellect Disabil Res. 2005 Mar;49(Pt 3):199-209. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2005.00635.x.


Background: Although there has been growing recognition of the importance of enabling people with intellectual disabilities (ID) to be more directly involved in managing their own financial affairs, so far, little is known about this aspect of their decision- making.

Method: Using vignettes and semi-structured interviews, the financial decision-making abilities of men and women with mild ID (n=30; mean FSIQ =61.80; SD=10.59) were compared with those of their counterparts in the 'general population' (n=16; mean FSIQ=101.56; SD=7.62) and 'very able' individuals (n=14; mean FSIQ=123.93; SD=7.60).

Results: Whilst the financial decision-making abilities of participants with ID were generally weaker than those of other participants, the differences were not discrete, and many individuals were judged to be able to make at least some personal financial decisions. For all three groups, understanding information relevant to the decision, and reasoning with it, were the hardest parts of the process.

Conclusions: The findings support a functional approach to the assessment of financial decision-making for both legal and clinical purposes, but raise concerns about mental incapacity legislation and assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Financing, Personal*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / economics*
  • Male
  • Mental Competency*
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Persons with Mental Disabilities / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors