The five states with the most individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are:  West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi.  Factors that contribute to theses states being among the highest include poverty and a lack of access to health care.  These states also have fewer jobs offering competitive wages.

In principle, the reason Americans apply for disability is because their health prevents them from working. A review of a recent Gallup-Healthways survey shows that nearly these states with the highest rates of disability are in the top 10 for serious conditions, including heart attacks, diabetes, hypertension and recurring knee, leg and back pain. West Virginia, the state with the highest disability rate, had either the highest or the second-highest rate in the country for all of these conditions.

Residents in these states find it hard to get a job that will pay much more than disability with their work experience, education and health condition, explained Gary Burtless, economist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “In states like Alabama and West Virginia,” Burtless said, “lots of the workers are going to be in occupations where the next job they obtain — if they do stick it out and work through the pain and the disability — is one that is going to pay considerably less than the last job that they held.”

Read more: States with the Most Americans on Disability – 24/7 Wall St.

I love coming to the national conferences in DC put on by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR).  Spending time in our capital city is always a treat.  I enjoyed speaking to new practitioners with two other attorneys from Jacksonville–we spoke to a packed house and presented our session:  “Hearing Tips for Beginners”.  I sat in on a number of great sessions including Chuck Martin (former NOSSCR President) and Debbie Shifrin (current NOSSCR President) speaking on the use of iPad during hearings. I think I see an iPad in my future.  Gil Laden of Mobile, Alabama presented a great session on the credibility of claimants, reminding us all that a credible claimant is at the heart of every strong Social Security Disability claim.

As always, I got to catch up with old friends and make new friends.  Everyone is concerned about the current climate in DC, knowing that changes in the Social Security program are inevitable, and hoping that the disabled population is not substantially affected in a negative way.  The disabled community is often made of up people who find applying for  and following through with a Social Security Disability claim to be challenging at best.  The attorneys within NOSSCR are among the finest in the country–I don’t know how anyone can be an effective representative without colleagues like the ones I know through NOSSCR.  I’m grateful for them and humbled to be among them.



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