January 27, 2016

Unemployment Rate For People With Disabilities Declines, SSDI Applications Reach Seven-Year Low

Allsup report finds Social Security Disability Insurance remains a vital lifeline for workers experiencing severe disabilities, opportunities improve for employment in greater economy

Belleville, Ill. — Jan. 28, 2016 — Unemployment for people with disabilities ended the year at 10.3% in December 2015 compared with 11.2% for the same month a year ago, according to a study by Allsup, the nation’s premier Social Security disability representation company. A quarter-to-quarter comparison also shows lower unemployment in 2015 compared to 2014 for people with disabilities. The number of people applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits also declined 4% in 2015.

The Allsup Disability Study: Income at Risk report illustrates through Social Security Administration data that SSDI benefits remain a necessary insurance program for a specific population of the American workforce who experiences a severe disability and must stop working.

The number of SSDI applications filed in 2015 was 2,412,267, a low not seen since 2008. The quarterly unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 11% in fourth quarter 2015, and 58% higher than the 4.6% quarterly unemployment rate for people with no disabilities.

“SSDI remains a vital lifeline to tens of thousands of people who experience a severe impairment or condition that destabilizes their lives and disrupts their careers,” said David Bueltemann, manager, Allsup Employment Services, which is a Social Security-approved Employment Network and a subsidiary of Allsup.

Only one in three workers has private long-term disability insurance, which means about 100 million U.S. workers only have SSDI to rely upon in the event of a severe disability. In addition, one of every eight workers will experience a disability of five years or longer during their working career, according to data provided by the Council for Disability Awareness.

“A work-disrupting disability may require five years or longer to make the adjustments and see some improvement in the person’s condition to go back to work,” Bueltemann said. “Those years can include a time of financial and family adjustment, medical treatment and rehabilitation in order to reach some level of stability.”

Individuals who use SSDI in this manner and return to work can benefit from the return to work incentives offered by Social Security through the Ticket to Work program, Bueltemann said.

Social Security Disability Insurance is a federally mandated insurance program that provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (65-67) and who can no longer work because of a severe, long-term or terminal disability. FICA payroll taxes paid by workers and their employers fund the program, which is administered by the SSA.

To qualify for SSDI, people with severe disabilities must meet strict requirements, including the inability to do the work they did previously and/or inability to work at other occupations. Also, their disability must have lasted or be expected to last at least one year, or result in death.

Understanding Employment Options when Receiving SSDI

Although most people who receive SSDI are not able to return to work, the SSA oversees work attempts that allow people to try to work while protecting their SSDI benefits for a period of time. Incentives include:

Trial work period. This nine-month period (not necessarily consecutive) allows someone to work and still receive full SSDI benefits no matter how much they earn.

Extended eligibility period. After the trial work period, individuals have 36 months to continue working and receive benefits in months when earnings are not “substantial,” according to the SSA. For 2016, earnings are substantial if they are $1,130 or more, or $1,820 for those who are blind.

Medicare coverage. Medicare coverage can continue up to 93 months after the trial work period.

Protection from medical continuing disability reviews (CDRs). Individuals are not subject to a medical review, which could result in termination of SSDI benefits, as long as they are participating in the Ticket to Work program and continue to see progress within the SSA’s timeframes.

Social Security’s Ticket to Work program includes free job-related employment support through organizations like Employment Networks (ENs). For more information about returning to work with SSDI benefits, contact Allsup Employment Services, a Social Security-approved EN, at info@allsupes.com.

Click here to learn more about applying for Social Security disability benefits.

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