Many Portland workers who apply for Social Security Disability benefits want to work, but cannot work due to a serious injury or illness. A recent study released by the White House indicates that expiring unemployment benefits may be linked to a spike in disability applications. The study was done by the White House Council of Economic Advisers and highlights the struggles of economically disadvantaged workers who become unemployable after the onset of a disability.
The study used a somewhat odd measure to determine whether a worker was likely to apply for disability benefits. The study determined that about 10 percent of Americans between ages 50 and 65 applied for Social Security Disability benefits if they did not have access to at least $5,000 during their unemployment period. The likelihood that someone would apply for SSDI increased drastically depending on how close the expiration of unemployment benefits was.
This study raises an interesting problem among unemployed workers. Many of these workers are loath to apply for disability benefits because there is a misperception that disability benefits are a type of charity. Disability benefits are more akin to an insurance policy than a government handout. Social Security Disability is funded through deductions taken from employee paychecks.
Therefore those who are eligible for SSDI have paid for it through their wages and are entitled to its benefits if they become unable to work because of a disability. The reluctance of workers to take advantage of this important resource is unfortunate and often leads to serious complications later on.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “Study Links Expiring Unemployment Benefits to Disability Applications,” Damian Paletta, Dec. 16, 2011