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Study: Most Americans uninformed about Social Security disability

Due to the wide range of reasons Michigan residents may file for Social Security disability benefits, there are a large number of misconceptions about the program and those who submit applications for benefits. Though many people might think that a catastrophic accident is the most common reason people file for SSD benefits, a recent study shows that arthritis is actually the leading disability.

According to a survey conducted by The State Farm Center for Women and Financial Services, nearly 100 percent of respondents did not identify arthritis as the leading cause for working people to file for disability. About 30 percent of people believed "accidents" to be the top cause of personal disability, when in reality they account for 5 percent of all disability claims.

Not only do people have misconceptions about the reasons people may file for benefits, but they may not understand that a disproportionate number of women receive disability benefits. Statistics from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that a disability is more likely to impact women across all age groups. Furthermore, more women than men are diagnosed with arthritis. This is reflected in the number of women that apply for and end up receiving disability benefits.

More than anything else, The State Farm study reveals that many Americans are unprepared and uneducated about disability benefits. Estimates show that as many as 25 percent of 20 year olds today will find themselves in a position to file for disability benefits at some point in their life. Knowing this, many people don't fully comprehend what kind of financial burden a disability can have on a working person and their family. If someone becomes disabled for a number of years, they likely lose a lot of money in future earnings and are probably not in a good position to save for retirement.

As America's working population continues to age, it is very important for people to understand their rights if they fall chronically ill or become severely injured. The previously cited study revealed that 61 percent of women and 46 percent of men have never done any research about disability benefits. In order to be best prepared for whatever life may bring, it is best to be advised of your legal rights and options in the event that you become disabled.

Source: The Journal Sentinel, "Disability: What you don't know can hurt you," May 10, 2012

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