Some critics of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and its disability program (SSD) see regional differences as evidence of problems. They suggest that because there is a larger percentage of SSD recipients in some states than others, fraud, waste or other problems must be the cause. They are wrong.
These critics don't understand that differences among states simply reflect the social, economic and educational situation of each state. A report from the Center on Budget and Priority Policies tells the story.
Education levels in the state
First, states with higher numbers of SSD recipients generally have a lower number of high-school graduates in the workforce. Workers with fewer years of school are less likely to be eligible for different types of employment if they become disabled. For example, a person who has worked in a warehouse for many years and who does not have a high school education would probably not be able to work in an office after developing disabling back problems. The only option for that worker is SSD.
Average age of the population
Second, states with the highest numbers of SSD recipients have the oldest populations. This means that states with a large population of people over 55 in New England and Appalachia have more SSD recipients than "young" states such as Arizona, California and Utah.
Numbers of immigrants in the states
Third, states with many immigrants in the workforce tend to have lower percentages of SSD recipients. This is usually because immigrants have not worked long enough to be eligible for SSD benefits. The result is that states like Texas, California, Florida and New Jersey have lower numbers of SSD recipients than you would otherwise expect.
Industrial economies of the states
Fourth, states whose economies are based on heavy manufacturing, forestry and mining are more likely to have high numbers of SSD recipients. First, these jobs are often dangerous, making it more likely that employees will suffer disabling injuries. Second, the skills required for such jobs don't often translate to other types of work. Someone who has been a coal miner for years will probably not have the abilities and knowledge needed for other types of work, making SSD the only alternative.
Wherever you live, if you are disabled and unable to perform your job, you need help. SSD is the answer to millions of disabled employees who paid into the system for years and now need to tap into the benefits they paid for. If you need assistance obtaining those benefits, contact Binder & Binder®, America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates. We have helped thousands of people obtain the benefits they need and deserve. Find out how we can help you.
Source: Galesburg Planet, "The Geography of Disability," by Kathy Ruffing, Dec. 1, 2012.