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If You Live in Rural America, Your Chances of Relying on SSD Are Greater

It turns out that if you live in a rural area, you are more likely to rely on Social Security Disability benefits. The reasons for this are complex. However, a recent article in the Kansas City Star reported that while 1 in 20 people receive SSD in Kansas City, the number increases to 1 in 8 when you get into the rural counties of southern Kansas.

One of the reasons is that much of the work available in rural areas, such as farming, road work and manufacturing, requires a certain level of stamina and health. If you're disabled and cannot do these types of jobs, there isn't much else for you. "You find higher rates in counties historically reliant on extraction industries - mining, agriculture, forestry," said Tim Marema of the Center for Rural Strategies. Jobs in these industries typically require significant strength and function. And when these industries leave an area, there is often no other work, especially for a disabled individual.

Another reason is that rural areas are poorer, and poverty has been shown to increase rates of poor health and disability. Yet another cause of this phenomenon is that medical care - the kind of care that might be able to prevent illness and disability - is usually limited in rural areas. And rural areas seldom have public transportation, making it ever harder to get to the few doctors who do practice in rural areas or get to the kind of job where disability is not a problem.

Residents of rural counties are less likely to have health insurance, further limiting their ability to receive appropriate and timely medical care and increasing their risk of being unable to work. They are less likely to have high school diplomas, making them ineligible for the few doable jobs that may exist.

Whatever the causes of their disabilities, people in rural parts of Kansas and Missouri receive SSD benefits for a host of reasons, including chronic diseases such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, back pain, heart disease, mood disorders, and work and war-related injuries.

Source: Kansas City Star, "Rural communities have strongest reliance on disability benefits", by Rick Montgomery, Jan. 29, 2012.

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