Right now, millions of Americans are dealing with unemployment, debt, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and any other of a number of financial problems associated with the recession. While these problems affect most of us in some way, it seems that the recession is hitting people with disabilities the hardest. In 2010, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was significantly higher than for other workers, and as a result, SSD/SSI applications increased to a record high last year.

In December, the U.S. unemployment rate was 8.9 percent, ending the year with a decrease from December of 2009’s rate of 9.5 percent. However, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 14.3 in December. While this number is a drop from the peak high of 16.4 percent in July, it is an increase from the rate of 13.8 percent in December of 2009.

In accordance with this increase in the number of unemployed people with disabilities, the number of applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) reached 2.9 million in 2010, which is the highest number since the implementation of SSDI in 1956. Experts believe this increase may be partially attributed to the aging population. In 2010, the average age of SSD applicants was 53, which is about halfway through the baby boomer generation.

While age obviously does not cause disability, it may make recovery more difficult or impossible, says Paul Gada of Allsup Disability Life Planning Center. “If you have put 30 or 40 years into working, it can be difficult to admit a disability is forcing you out of the labor market,” he said. “Some people delay applying for SSDI benefits in the hopes that they can return to work and retire on their own terms. However, if there are clear signs that you can’t work, delaying applying for SSDI puts you – and your retirement – at even greater financial risk.”

Source: Business Wire, “Income at Risk: Job Recover Still Lagging for Those with Disabilities, Reports Allsup“, 25 January 2011