While recession wanes, high job loss and increasing number of Social Security disability claims add to financial struggles for people with disabilities
BELLEVILLE, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- During first quarter 2010, unemployment rates for people with disabilities continued to significantly outpace the unemployment rate for other workers, according to a quarterly study by Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation and Medicare services.
The Allsup Disability Study: Income at Risk shows that for the first quarter of 2010, people with disabilities experienced an unemployment rate nearly 40 percent higher than people with no disabilities. Specifically, the unemployment rate for the first quarter averaged 14.3 percent for people with disabilities, compared to 10.3 percent for people with no disabilities, according to non-seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Since the BLS began reporting unemployment rates for people with disabilities 18 months ago, the lowest unemployment rate reported for people with disabilities was 11.1 percent, recorded in November 2008. In comparison, the highest unemployment rate for people with no disabilities remained below 11 percent—topping out at 10.4 percent in January 2010.
“It’s clear that people with disabilities face a significantly greater challenge in the current economy,” said Paul Gada, personal financial planning director for the Allsup Disability Life Planning Center. “They consistently face higher unemployment rates and many, ultimately, are unable to return to the work force.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that in March about 44 percent of those unemployed had been jobless for 27 weeks or more.
“The financial situation has become dire for many people with disabilities, and those who are not able to return to work face prolonged waits for Social Security disability benefits,” Gada said. “They may have limited economic resources, putting them at a significant financial risk while they wait for their claim to make its way through the SSDI process.”
Increase in SSDI Claims, Long Waits Add to Financial Strains
The Allsup Disability Study: Income at Risk also shows that during the first quarter of 2010, the number of people with disabilities unable to work and applying for Social Security Disability Insurance climbed to 712,755, an increase of 5.2 percent compared with the first quarter 2009. More than 1.7 million SSDI claims are pending with an average cumulative wait time of more than 850 days, based on Allsup’s analysis of the Social Security disability backlog.
“These extended delays in processing claims create extremely difficult financial situations for hundreds of thousands of people,” said Gada. “They’re struggling with disabling conditions, and each day they are forced to make tough decisions about living expenses and how to secure the money needed to pay their mortgage, pay other bills, seek medical treatment for their condition or pay for their prescription medicines.”
Deciding to Apply for SSDI Benefits
Gada cautioned that those considering applying for SSDI need to understand eligibility requirements. “People with disabilities should apply as soon as possible so that they can minimize their wait for benefits,” said Gada. “At the same time, those who are not eligible should not apply, and those who are uncertain should seek assistance to determine if they may qualify.”
Generally, applicants are considered disabled by the Social Security Administration if:
To qualify for SSDI, a person also must have worked and paid into the program (via FICA payroll taxes) for five of the last 10 years and be under retirement age.
Gada noted that applying for SSDI benefits requires an extensive amount of paperwork. This includes completing an initial Social Security disability application and, in most instances, a detailed activities of daily living questionnaire. Information is needed on the person’s work history and the impact of the disability on his or her day-to-day activities. A doctor must verify information and additional medical exams may be required if there is not enough information to make a decision.
Only 35 percent of initial applications are approved on average, requiring those who are denied to apply for reconsideration and advance further in the SSDI process. Individuals can improve their chances of securing benefits earlier in the process by getting help. For example, 56 percent of those who hire Allsup for SSDI representation receive their awards at the initial application. Overall, 98 percent of people who complete the SSDI process with Allsup receive awards.
Individuals uncertain of their eligibility for SSDI benefits can contact the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 279-4357 for a free evaluation.
Allsup also provides free financial planning tools to help people with disabilities better manage their finances while awaiting SSDI benefits. This includes information on establishing a budget, managing debt and healthcare costs, and learning about bankruptcy and foreclosure choices. These resources are available online at: http://www.allsup.com/personal-finance.
Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and workers’ compensation services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 600 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, visit www.Allsup.com.
The information provided is not intended as a substitute for legal or other professional services. Legal or other expert assistance should be sought before making any decision that may affect your situation.
Editor’s Note: Details on the Allsup Disability Study: Income at Risk are available at First quarter 2010: http://www.allsup.com/Portals/4/allsup-study-income-at-risk-q1-10.pdf
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