Income at Risk: Unemployment Rate Drops Significantly for People with Disabilities, Allsup Finds

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Fourth-quarter unemployment rate for people with disabilities is lowest in three years; Social Security disability applications continue slight decline

People with disabilities face an uphill battle in securing employment. When their conditions make it impossible for them to keep working, it’s essential to apply for SSDI benefits as soon as possible to help secure their financial future.

After climbing for four consecutive quarters, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities dropped in the final quarter of 2011 to the lowest rate since the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a study by Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation and Medicare plan selection services.

Still, the Allsup Disability Study: Income at Risk shows that people with disabilities experienced an unemployment rate more than 60 percent higher than the rate for people with no disabilities for the fourth quarter of 2011. Specifically, the unemployment rate averaged 13.2 percent for people with disabilities and 8.1 percent for people with no disabilities during the fourth quarter of 2011. This compares to 16.3 percent for people with disabilities and 8.8 percent for people with no disabilities during the third quarter of 2011. These figures are based on non-seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Allsup Disability Study: Income at Risk shows that 660,712 people with disabilities applied for SSDI during the fourth quarter of 2011, down from 737,468 for the previous quarter. For 2011 overall, nearly 2.88 million people filed disability claims, compared with nearly 2.94 million applicants in 2010, a decrease of 1.98 percent year to year. However, 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.

“People with disabilities continue to face an uphill battle in securing employment, and when their conditions make it impossible for them to keep working, they face even greater hardship,” said Paul Gada, personal financial planning director for the Allsup Disability Life Planning Center. “For these individuals, it’s essential to apply for SSDI benefits as soon as possible to help secure their financial future.”

Many people with disabilities awaiting SSDI benefits fall below the national poverty line and face significant financial peril. A 2009 study by Allsup of nearly 300 awarded claimants found that 35 percent drained their retirement or savings accounts; 14 percent missed mortgage payments; 31 percent missed payments other than mortgage payments; and 9 percent had their utilities turned off while waiting to receive their Social Security disability benefits.

“These individuals paid for SSDI benefits through their payroll taxes while working. For many, these benefits truly are their last safety net when they become disabled,” said Gada. “In addition to applying as soon as possible, they need to evaluate ways to manage their expenses during the waiting period, including budgeting and looking for financial assistance, to help them until their benefits are awarded.”

Gada also noted it’s important to seek representation in applying for SSDI benefits. Yet many people do not know help is available. For example, the Allsup 2009 study found that only 51 percent of respondents knew initially that they could have third-party representation to help them apply for SSDI. Most who did not know, said they would have hired a representative had they been aware of that option.

Early Representation Critical To Receiving SSDI Benefits

There are several advantages to having a Social Security disability representative, especially at the initial application. For example, 52 percent of Allsup claimants are awarded benefits at the initial application level compared to just 35 percent nationally.

Additional benefits people realize by having representation during the SSDI application process include:

  •     Find out before they apply if they are likely to qualify for SSDI benefits. In evaluating a person’s application, the Social Security Administration (SSA) follows a five-step sequential process and makes decisions based on medical documentation, work history, age and other factors. A representative can help review this information to determine if the person is likely to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, before they apply.
  •     Receive specialized expertise and hands-on help from the beginning. Delays are often caused because people don’t complete or inaccurately complete the necessary forms. Professional representation ensures expert, knowledgeable help in completing the application and activities of daily living (ADL) forms.
  •     Avoid waiting in Social Security telephone and office lines. A professional representative can handle the paperwork, answer questions and submit the individual’s claim. For example, eight out of 10 Allsup claimants never need to visit an SSA office, easing what can be a significant hardship for many people with disabilities.
  •     Improve the likelihood of receiving their benefits. Having a representative who makes certain the person is likely to qualify for SSDI benefits and then providing them support improves a person’s likelihood of being awarded. In fact, Allsup has a 98 percent success rate among customers who complete the process with them.

Anyone with questions about eligibility for Social Security benefits can contact the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276 for a free disability evaluation.

Allsup also provides free financial planning tools to help people better manage their finances while awaiting SSDI benefits at http://www.allsup.com/personal-finance.

ABOUT ALLSUP
Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, visit http://www.Allsup.com.

The information provided is not intended as a substitute for legal or other professional services. Legal or other expert assistance should be sought before making any decision that may affect your situation.

Editor’s Note: Details on the Allsup Disability Study: Income at Risk are available at http://www.allsup.com/Portals/4/allsup-study-income-at-risk-q4-11.pdf.

Contact:
Mary Jung
(773) 429-0940
mtjung(at)msn(dot)com

Rebecca Ray
(800) 854-1418 ext 65065
r(dot)ray(at)allsupinc(dot)com

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Mary Jung
for Allsup
(773) 429-0940
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Rebecca Ray
Allsup
(800) 854-1418 x65065
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