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The recession unduly affects those living with a disability

One former tow-truck driver is probably experiencing the same thing as many people in Michigan. After trying for months to find a job that would accommodate his respiratory condition, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the man made the decision to file for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. In addition to his medical condition, the economic recession has made it very difficult for him to find employment.

Since the recession began in 2007, nearly 1.6 million people have applied for Social Security disability benefits. Subsequently, the number of individuals receiving these benefits has jumped 22 percent over the same time period. The Social Security Administration indicates that this represents record-setting increases in the number of applicants.

Furthermore, unemployment for individuals living with a disability has hit an all-time high. The latest statistics show that 16.9 percent of those living with a disability are unemployed, which is significantly higher than the overall rate of unemployment.

For many people, making the decision to apply for disability benefits can be difficult. The tow-truck driver found that his health had reached the point where he could no longer obtain or hold a job, so he made the decision to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Like many others in his situation, this man is unable to find or keep a job due to forces outside of his control prevent. His illness has even progressed to the point that he can no longer play the bass guitar, a pastime he used to enjoy. It took five months for his application for benefits to be processed an approved.

The economic recession has affected nearly every American, but the downturn has been especially consequential for those living with a disability. Though dealing with a serious medical complication can be complicated, receiving disability benefits can as a measure of protection as individuals and their families try to make ends meet from month to month.

Source: Bloomberg, "Disabled Americans Shrink Size of U.S. Labor Force," Alex Kowalski, May 3, 2012

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