According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of disabled Americans without work dropped toward the end of 2013, decreasing to 11.9 percent in December. That is down slightly from 12.3 percent in November. The decrease in the disability unemployment rate is not necessarily a cause for celebration, though, since it was probably just due to the fact that people often stop looking for work as the year comes to a close.
In the general population, the same trend can be seen: the unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent in December from 7 percent in November as fewer people looked for work. This occurred as 74,000 jobs were added to the market.
Unemployment is a bigger problem for the disabled for a number of reasons. Although some companies have in recent years made more of an effort to hire disabled workers, disability can still constitute a significant hurdle for many of these Americans.
For those with significant disabilities who are unable to work at all, the challenge isn’t so much finding sufficient employment but qualifying for disability benefits. Even for those with serious impairments, this is not necessarily an easy task. The standard for disability used by the Social Security Agency is not easy to meet, and must provide solid documentation of all impairments.
For those who are already on Social Security disability benefits, of course, there is the opportunity to test out their ability to work while remaining on Social Security disability benefits. This is a great opportunity to maintain the SSDI safety net while testing one’s ability to get back into the workforce.
Source: Disability Scoop, “Job Market Rocky For Those With Disabilities,” Shaun Heasley, January 10, 2014.