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Jobless Don’t Seek SSDI Benefits as Default

There is a common misconception that a large number of those who file for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston are doing so because they have struggled to find a job in a downtrodden economy. designingonatablet1.jpg

That’s why concern about the stability of the federal program has heightened with news that some 1.3 million workers will lose out on unemployment benefits at the end of the year if Congress fails to renew an emergency aid program.

There is no question that the loss of those funds is going to hit many families very hard. But the vast majority probably aren’t going to seek respite in the form of SSDI. This is for several reasons.

The first of those we can base on a recent working paper issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research. What researchers found is that, for the most part, Americans have not sought disability benefits when their unemployment coverage lapsed.

Study authors started by analyzing the historical correlation between the increase in the number of SSDI applications in times when unemployment is also high. There are a number of possible reasons, but the most likely, they surmised, is that there are a lot of Americans who may qualify for disability benefits, but they prefer to try to stick out as best they can and keep working if at all possible. However, those with disabilities are often unfairly targeted for adverse employment action when times get tough. When these individuals lose their jobs, they may have no other choice but to seek federal benefits.

However, workers don’t appear to be using disability benefits as an extended safety net when their jobless benefits end. The economists looked at states where unemployment benefits were rolled back at differing times throughout the last several years. During those times, there was no rise in the number of disability applications. This would suggest that people are not using SSDI as simply an alternative to unemployment benefits.

There is concern that those unemployed on the verge of losing benefits will simply drop out of the job market. However, it doesn’t seem likely that they are going to seek out disability benefits in droves.

The other reason for this is that disability benefits are not easy to come by. Determinations of eligibility can take many months, if not years, and the standards are rigid. In fact, most of those who apply are turned down, and successfully proving a claim usually means hiring an experienced SSDI attorney.

This is why for the most part, only those with conditions making it impossible for them to continue working even attempt to apply.

That doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. In fact, it’s a lifeline to those who need it most. It’s just that despite the description painted by alarmists, it’s by no means easy money.

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

Additional Resources:
Where will workers go after their jobless benefits expire? Probably not on disability. Dec. 3, 2013, By Brad Plumer, Washington Post
More Blog Entries:
Disabled Workers Struggle to Find Jobs and are Paid Less, Nov. 5, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog