Recent reports show that the unemployment rate for individuals who suffer from disabling conditions has dropped to an all-time low in more than three years. In addition, applications for SSDI benefits have continued to stabilize. While this seems like great news for individuals who suffer from disabilities, we must dig deeper in order to understand the true meaning behind these figures.
Even though the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is the lowest it has been in three years, a disability study performed by Allsup, called the Allsup Disability Study: Income at Risk, indicates that people who are suffering from disabilities are experiencing an unemployment rate that is nearly 65 percent higher than the rate for individuals who do not suffer from disabilities. This means that even though the unemployment rate for the disabled has seemed to drop, it is still much harder for a disabled individual to obtain a job in the workforce.
Just how significant is the unemployment gap between people with disabilities and people without? The unemployment rate for people with disabilities averaged 12.9 percent in the second quarter of 2012. For those who do not suffer from a disability, that rate was just 7.8 percent.
While the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is higher than the unemployment rate for people without disabilities, the fact that the unemployment rate for disabled individuals has dropped while the application rate for SSDI benefits has become more stable (instead of rapidly rising) is good news for the Social Security Administration and the Social Security Disability program.
With more disabled people working (or trying to work) and fewer individuals trying to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, a number of things will happen. The financial strain on the SSDI program will alleviate to some degree. With fewer applications will come fewer appeals, which will mean that the SSA hopefully has a chance to catch up on the backlog of disability appeals that are currently in the Social Security system.
The numbers show that people who are suffering from disabilities do indeed want to work and are trying. It also appears that the rise in disability applications is now coming to an end. In addition it seems that individuals who are receiving disability benefits may be taking advantage of some of the agency’s incentives to return to work. Contrary to what many people may believe, a disability recipient does not automatically lose benefits if they try to return to the workforce. There are a number of programs in place that try to get disabled individuals back into the workforce and with the drop in the disabled unemployment rate, it seems that these programs may be working to the advantage of the SSA. Will this trend continue? We will have to wait and see what future statistics show us.