Two New Studies Document The Effect That The Economic Downturn Is Having On People With Disabilities

According to the February 19th Edition of the Kansas City Star newspaper’s online edition,, people with disabilities are one of the hidden victims of the economic downturn

A new study shows that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims have generally increased during the seven recession periods over the past four decades. During 2008, the number of disabled workers applying for SSDI benefits reached a record high of more than 2.3 million. Disability applications overall have reached 2.6 million.

“We know people with disabilities are struggling in the current economy,” said Edward Swierczek of Allsup, a provider of services to those with disabilities. “We’ve seen evidence of many people holding off on treatment for serious conditions because of finances.”

Another interesting study was also recently released by the Department of Labor (DOL).  On February 6, 2009, the DOL released, for the first time, employment and unemployment data on individuals with disabilities. The DOL believes that this information will assist the nation in understanding how changing labor market conditions affect Americans with disabilities. Although it has always been widely believed that this group typically faced a higher rate of unemployment than individuals without disabilities, official estimates were not available until now.

The DOL study is very revealing. In January 2009, the unemployment rate of all persons with a disability aged 16 and over was 13.2 percent, compared with 8.3 percent for persons with no disability in the same age group. Focusing on men and women between the ages of 16 and 64 years old, the prime working years, also yielded a much higher unemployment rate for the disabled population. In January 2009, the unemployment rate of men with a disability aged 16-64 was 17 percent, compared with an umemployment rate of 9.6 percent for men in that age group with no disability. Similarly, the unemployment rate of disabled women aged 16-64 was 12.1 percent in January 2009, compared to a 6.9 percent unemployment rate for nondisabled women in the same age cohort. The employment-population ratio for persons with a disability was 20.0 percent, compared with 65.0 percent for persons with no disability. More statistics can be found at: