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Disabilities Keeping Many Americans Disadvantaged Economically

A recent report from the United States Census Bureau shows that about thirty percent – more than 14 million people – of the 46 million Americans currently receiving some form of government-funded benefit have one or more recognized disabilities.

The Report

The report, entitled “Disability Characteristics of Income-Based Government Assistance Recipients in the United States” analyzes data collected by researchers at the USCB, using results compiled through the 2011 American Community Survey.

The stated purpose of the study is to understand “characteristics of the people receiv[ing] assistance” in the hope that the government can parlay that knowledge into improving the procedures used to “coordinate and administer” such benefit programs in the future.

The Results

In addition to providing insight about the percentage of Americans currently receiving some form of income-based government assistance benefit (meaning that the benefits are either payments in cash/check or are “in-kind” and subsisting of services like home health care, paid in goods or are vouchers for future needs), the survey points out the gross economic disparity between healthy and disabled people across the country, which is right at the heart of determining why these benefit programs are needed at all.

For example, one-third of disabled Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 are employed, but that number jumps to three out of every four people without a disability. Also, there is a huge salary disparity between people with disabilities and people without them; disabled workers earn an average of $10,000 less annually.

Furthermore, the report finds that people with disabilities are dealing with both “lower employment and earnings,” and those same people would “appear to be at greater risk for needing assistance.”

Taking Action

Even though disabled people are definitely at an economic disadvantage, the country, since the times of the Great Depression, has offered several assistance programs, including:

  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Temporary Assistance to Need Families (TANF, formerly known as “food stamps”)
  • Medicaid
  • Social Security Disability Insurance

These programs are still going strong today, but the process of applying for benefits has increased exponentially over the years. The applications themselves are more complex, and so mired with minutiae that it is easy to miss something and be inadvertently disqualified. Of course, even if an application is perfect, there is still the matter of the huge backlog of claims for both SSI and SSDI; it is not unheard of for people to wait an entire year to just have an application considered, not counting the time it would add if the application is denied (as more than half of initial benefit applications are).

With your economic future on the line, it is vitally important to navigate through the red tape as smoothly and swiftly as possible. Having an experienced social security disability benefits advocate by your side can increase your chances of both having an initial application for assistance be granted and having an initial denial of benefits reconsidered.