People with disabilities experienced an unemployment rate nearly 74 percent higher than the rate for people with no disabilities for the first quarter of 2012. The rate now stands at 14.6 percent, compared to 8.4 percent for people with no disabilities.
The findings are from Allsup, a provider of Social Security disability representation and Medicare plan selection services. Allsup has been conducting this quarterly study since the first quarter of 2009.
“People with disabilities often face a much greater challenge in securing employment,” said Paul Gada, personal financial planning director for the Allsup Disability Life Planning Center. “Their health condition may make it difficult to continue to work for extended periods, or it worsens so they are forced out of the labor market entirely.”
The uptick is slightly higher than fourth quarter 2011, in which the jobless rate was 13.2 percent for people with disabilities and 8.1 percent for people with no disabilities. The figures are based on non-seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The BLS also reported that 42.5 percent of individuals unemployed in March 2012 had been jobless for 27 weeks or more. This compares to 45.5 percent during March 2011.
The Allsup Disability Study "Income at Risk" shows that 724,746 people with disabilities applied for Social Security Disability Insurance during the first quarter of 2012. This is up significantly from the 660,712 people who applied in the previous quarter, but just slightly above 720,119 applicants in the first quarter of 2011.
Overall, in 2011, nearly 2.9 million individuals were unable to continue to work because of a disability and applied for SSDI. Nearly 1.8 million SSDI claims are pending with an average cumulative wait time of more than 800 days, according to Allsup’s analysis of the Social Security disability backlog.
Many individuals fall below the national poverty line and face significant financial hardships while awaiting their SSDI benefits. According to findings from an Allsup Disability Finance poll released earlier this month, people most commonly rely on friends and family to help them through, but nearly two-thirds of respondents report having sold personal belongings and many use various other means to try to make ends meet.
“Bankruptcies, foreclosures and other devastating financial hazards are too common among people with disabilities,” Gada said. “To help minimize these hardships, it’s important to apply for SSDI benefits as soon as possible and to seek representation to help navigate the SSDI process from the outset.”