Labor Statistics: Disabled Workers Job Market Challenges

June 20, 2013

The latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has been released, presenting labor force characteristics for persons with disabilities and revealing unique challenges for those who suffer from disabling conditions.
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Of course, our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Attorneys recognize that these figures reflect all disabled persons, some of whom retain the ability to work in spite of their condition. Many of them, however, are not able to continue working, particularly as the condition may worsen over time with age.

Even for those who have the physical ability to continue working, finding a job can be tough.

The BLS reports that last year, only 18 percent of individuals with a disability were employed full-time. That's compared to about 64 percent of those without a disability. Of course, the job market in the past couple of years has been rough for everyone. However, while the employment-population ratio for those with disabilities was unchanged year over year from 2011 to 2012, it increased for those without a disability.

What's more, the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities was almost double what it was for those without disabilities. The unemployment rate is measured in terms of how many people are actively looking for work versus how many are currently working. The jobless rate for disabled workers in 2012 was 13.4 percent. For individuals with no disability, it was 7.9 percent.

These figures go to the heart of the argument that disabled workers are somehow milking the system by turning to SSDI. The stereotype is that somehow, disabled people can work and they simply are too lazy to do so. In many cases, disabled workers have tried for years to find alternative employment options, with employers repeatedly denying opportunities. Meanwhile, their conditions worsen and their health deteriorates, making them an even less desirable candidate. Eventually, they may reach the point where they are simply no longer able to continue working.

The standards one must meet in order to qualify for federal disability benefits are stringent. They are by no means a given, and in all but the most extreme circumstances, one should expect to be turned down at least in the initial application process. Odds of securing benefits are substantially boosted with the aid of an experienced disability lawyer.

The latest BLS data just goes to further show how so many people find themselves impoverished before they even begin to ponder applying for benefits. The data was collected as part of the agency's Current Population Survey, which is a monthly study of about 60,000 U.S. households.

Last year, some 33 percent of workers with a disability were only employed part-time. That's compared to 19 percent of workers with no disability.

Interestingly, individuals with a disability were more likely to be self-employed than those with no disability. Again, this data strikes at the heart of the erroneous theory that those with disabilities are lazy. In fact, when no opportunities are offered, these individuals are taking steps to forge their own opportunities, when possible.

Survey results indicate that persons with no disability tend to be older, which is no surprise given that the incidence of disability grows with age. In fact, more than 45 percent of the disabled population last year was over the age of 65. That's compared with 13 percent of the population with no disability.

Women were slightly more likely to have a disability than men, reflecting in part the higher life expectancies of women. Among the different ethnic groups, black Americans had higher rates of disability than their white, Asian or Hispanic counterparts.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary, June 12, 2013, Press Release, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Sleep Apnea Disability Claims on the Rise Among Veterans, June 15, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog