As our readers in Georgia might know, more people now than ever before are receiving Social Security Disability insurance benefits. The reasons for the increase in SSDI beneficiaries are many, but two main reasons seem to be driving it: the aging population and the increase in the number of women who entered the workforce decades ago and are now eligible for benefits.
But where in the country do most of the recipients live? While, of course, there are at least some beneficiaries in every state, the proportion of some states' residents who receive SSDI benefits can be two or three times higher than other states.
In general, when the economy is bad, more people are on disability; states with high rates of unemployment and poverty also have high rates of SSDI recipients. Of the top 10 states in terms of SSDI recipients, several of them are states where a main industry has fallen on hard times: Michigan, which used to have many more auto manufacturing jobs; and West Virginia, which is a traditional mining state.
It should not be completely surprising that states such as these, where a main source of jobs came from difficult manual labor, would now have large numbers of people on disability. After all, injuries that could lead to a worker being permanently disabled would likely come from difficult professions such as auto worker or miner. And when there are fewer jobs in the pool available to residents of those states, workers who are disabled are often caught on the outside looking in.
Source: 24/7 Wall St, "States with the Most Americans on Disability," May 20, 2013