Disabled hit hard by job losses



For the first time ever, the U.S. Department of Labor released employment data related to people with disabilities earlier this month. It found that for January 2009, the unemployment rate for those with disabilities was 13.2 percent compared to 8.3 percent for persons with no disability.

There is also thought to be an increase in the segment of the working population known as the “working wounded.”

According to Edward Swierczek, an Allsup senior claimant representative and former state Disability Determination Services employee, “These individuals have been working and want to hold on to their job as long as they can, but they are suffering from a chronic disease or condition. In some cases, they are enduring significant pain or difficulty, but continue to work because they still have to feed their families and pay their bills.”

According to Allsup, eligibility for SSDI is based on the inability to work, as determined by the SSA. Generally, a person is considered disabled by the SSA if:

  • They cannot do the work they did previously
  • They cannot do other work because of their disability
  • Their disability has lasted or is expected to last at least one year, or result in death

If you are disabled, do you find the current job market particularly tough? Are you a member of the “working wounded”? If you’ve been through the SSDI benefits application process, do you have any tips for others that are applying now?

11 comments Add your comment


April 3rd, 2009
12:03 pm

Yet another example of group-identity think brought to you by the AJC


April 3rd, 2009
12:06 pm

As a manager of an Linkedin group of hearing impaired professionals, I see this all the time. Not only is the job market tough, but once an interviewer sees the hearing aids or realizes that you’re having trouble understanding what he/she is saying, you’re immediately rejected. Only the most open-minded recruiter is able to see past the disability and appreciate what one has to offer. And I believe that hearing-impaired people have more difficulty than other disabled people – except maybe for those who are sight-impaired. Anyone can roll their wheelchair up to the desk and work. But if you can’t hear in a meeting, use the telephone, or understand spoken directions or warnings, you won’t be hired.


April 3rd, 2009
12:14 pm

Group-identity think? What is that?

I AM disabled and fortunately have been at my job for 5 yrs this month. I believe it IS tougher than it normally has been for those who have a disability – physically, emotionally or mentally – because competition is tougher and the skills needed are becoming more and more scrutinized. For those who have unfortunately been hit with a layoff it will be even harder to bounce back yet alone compete for jobs against those who don’t have the disabilities that employers may assume will be a hinderence to your productivity.


April 3rd, 2009
12:15 pm

I am legally blind and have worked for an Atlanta based company now for 3 years. In the past I have found it difficult to find a job regarless of economic times either because most employers or businesses are uncertain of what my limitations were or how they would affect my job responsibilites. However, One outlet that some people with disabilities can take advantage of are work from home programs offered through companies that train people to be Customer Service Agents. The only word of caution I would offer if someone choosed to go this route is to go to Clark Howard’s website http://www.clarkhoward.com to see which ones are listed on his site. DO NOT WHATEVER YOU DO do a random “work from home” search on the NET. You would find more scams than anything. Another good avenue to pursue is if you have what’s called a Vocation Rehab counselor(like here in GA), you can often get job training and even obtain employment through contacts that they have. There are some very disability friendly companies right here in the metro area. You just need to do some research and talk to the right people. If you want to get off to a good start, check with your local Department of Labor office. You can often sit down with someone there that can provide you with some very helpful information to get started.

j sutter

April 3rd, 2009
2:16 pm

This is not surprising wheher the economy is good or bad. It is reflective of too many employers attitudes about disabilities. They believe you aren’t capable of working. Fortunately with my disability I lead 2 organizations that between them employ over 2,000. Those who have poor attitudes towards those with disabilities don’t get hired or end up fired first when I hear that type of attitude.

Brian Lewis

April 14th, 2009
12:32 am

Well, sounds like I am part of the working-wounded (an apt description if there ever was one). I have been laid off for the second time in a year, and while I do not meet the usual definition of disabled, and I take nothing away from those folks that really are disabled, my hi-tech on-the-job skills have finally run their course and I am now unemployable in the IT industry. For years I have been struggling with a really trashed lower back due to injury and hereditary, and in the past few years I have had very high numbers of days off due to illness. An employer I had a year ago, was unbelievably tolerant of this and did not dock me a single days pay thru severe back problems, cancer treatments, mental disorientation due to neurological pain drugs, they were just excellent. However, my last employer, was told to terminate me from the project by the client because I took three days off across a weekend due to a bad gastro issue. I had an at-will contract so there was nothing I could do about it, my employer didn’t like it, but they had no other work. So here I am, going to job interviews as a 55 year old, mildly overweight male who limps when he walks because of his chronic back issues. I can’t get a job that requires bending or lifting of any kind, and I am no longer sought after in the IT industry. I am looking at retraining. But the cause of my disability is completely fixable. I have no insurance, even when I had good health insurance I could not afford the copays for seeing my specialists. It is getting harder and harder to walk, and I would not be able to walk if it were not for the drugs I take that also impact my cognition to varying degrees. So, do I battle on and keep sliding but retrained and stop work when I can no longer physically get around, or do I go straight for getting declared disabled and unable to perform my usual work, new work, and if my back is not operated on, my condition will last till I die? I have had an exceptional run in hi-tech, but lost everything including my life saving in a divorce, business closure and home foreclosure. Oh well. Batter up!


April 15th, 2009
11:57 am

Not surprised. I am also disabled moved here from another state, in a county just outside Atlanta, and started looking for bus lines to take to the doctors office or to stores, and not only did they not exist, there are no taxi companies that exist either, or those that do tell you that they can come and pick you up in three hours, and then often they do not show up at all. This area is basically backwards as all hell. Not just in the handling of the disabled but in just about everything. .

My advice is to get a lawyer right from the beginning. They work on a percentage basis and can only take a percentage of past payments you are owed. They also know the details about when the state loses by default by failing to respond within the proper dates. A lot of people dont get benefits because they dont know the law, and dont know that the state has broken a rule that requires them to start making payment. Lawyers know this, but people who apply on their own do not.

Secondly, fill out the forms properly. Most initial rejections come from not doting your I’s and crossing your T’s. The tiniest error on the form gets you a rejection.

Third, if you are rejected, act immediately within the stated time frame to do whatever you need to do to contest the rejection. Fill out the required “contestation” form within the 30 or 60 or whatever the amount of days you need to get them in. If you do you stay in position to get your case before an administrative judge, if you do not, you go right back to the beginning of the process and have to start as if you never filed before.

Most people are rejected for technical reasons, not real ones. Next most people who are rejected go back to the beginning because they get discouraged and dont follow the process within the time limits. Dont give up, do everything within the time limits and about 70 percent of applicants who do end up collecting benefits. The government makes this hard primarily so people will give up.

Learn the time frames. If the state must answer you within six months, and you do not get a letter in six months and one day, go directly to a lawyer. The time frames are legal requirements both for the applicant AND the state.

This is why I recommend getting a lawyer to handle this immediately. They dont cost you anything but a percentage of the money you would be owned for the time prior to your being awarded SSI or SSDI, and its better to let them take 25 percent of that money than to not collect at all. They do not get a percentage of your future payments.

I think if everyone who was disabled got lawyers from the get go, the state would have a lot harder time rejecting anyone. Primarily because they make so many mistakes they would either have to repair their system, or just start paying. This is a situation where it pays to get experts on your side. And lawyers are those experts. Sometimes a lawyer might drag out the case a little longer, because the higher your past benefits are, the higher their total dollar sum becomes, but in the end, you are rather more likely to win with one than without one.


April 17th, 2009
8:45 am

AJC……WHINE……WHINE……..WHINE…Looking forward to the day the AJC goes out of business.Stops its presses.


June 5th, 2009
9:38 am

brian lewis go call allsup in bellville ill they will help you get ssdi you more than qualify sounds like to me what are you waiting for they take 25 percent of your award but at least you will have income comeing in each month. i am 45 with degenerated disc diasease and stenosis of spine with 2 disc shot at L-4 L-5 with a torn nerve and i take 100mg shots of insulin for diabeaties and 6 pain pills for pain. come on dude do you really think anybody is going to hire people like us in todays world i dought it. so call them you will be glad you did.


June 5th, 2009
9:50 am

come on people do you really think anybody in the social security administration or ssdi for disabled people really care about your condition no they dont i call then hitlers ss because there trained to deny you no matter what. why do you think they pay a independent doctor to see you there doctor ssdi hes paid by the social security office du. so please make sure you get a lawyer before you apply or you will get denied all the way to federal court. god bless and good luck.


June 22nd, 2009
2:53 am

We’ve crossed mid 2009 and it is a welcome relief to know that the overall productivity is increasing. Usually productivity falls in a recession. So there are overall some good signs. But what about the ones who have lost their jobs? Thankfully, there are some websites where people who have been affected by job loss in the current recession could share their anxieties and problems with others having faced similar problems in the past. One website that is interesting is http://www.angstcorner.com.