A common criticism some make of disability benefits is that people go on disability and then never return to work because they prefer to keep receiving the monthly checks from Uncle Sam to going out, hitting the pavement and finding a job. Of course the truth is a bit more complicated than that. The vast majority of disability beneficiaries would prefer to return to the work, where they can make more money and be a part of the workforce again. The problem, though, is that while the economy and employment picture is bad for everyone, it is awful for disabled workers.
Recent data shows that the unemployment rate for disabled workers has climbed for four consecutive quarters, reaching its highest level since economists began tracking the number. Whereas the overall unemployment rate is around 9 percent, the unemployment rate for the disabled is nearly twice as much at 16 to 17 percent.
Keep in mind as well that the official unemployment rate backs out a lot of other things like those who settled for part-time work and those who simply gave up looking for a job after going a long time without success. The “real” rate according to some experts is around 17 percent for the US economy. The real unemployment rate for disabled workers then could be as high as 33 percent, meaning that one out of every three disabled workers willing to work cannot find any work.
Additionally, the average Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) applicant now is 53 years old. The older the worker is, the more difficult it is more for him or her to find a job again, since job skills diminish and studies show that employers look less favorably on those unemployed for greater periods of time. Disabled workers over 50 face the added problems of fading skills and longer unemployment, both of which make them less likely to land jobs.
What has your experience been in transitioning from disability benefits back to the workforce? What difficulties do disabled workers face that others may not be aware of?
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys