According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer people with disabilities are members of the labor force even though the disabled population has grown. The bureau began tracking whether people with disabilities are working in June 2008, nearly five years ago. At that time, the bureau found that there were 27.3 million disabled people in the United States and roughly 21.7 percent of them were either employed or looking for a job.
In March of this year, the bureau reported that the total number of disabled Americans increased to 28.9 million, but only 18 percent of the population was working or looking for work. Additionally, the bureau found that the unemployment rate among the disabled population increased from 9.3 percent in 2008 to 13 percent in 2013. Of course, the unemployment rate for the overall population also increased during the same time period from 5.6 percent to 7.4 percent.
Experts are concerned about the numbers, but they are not alleging that the disabled population is choosing not to work. As the associate director of the Center for Accessible Technologies in Berkeley, California, put it, "In this market when there are so many people looking for work, people with disabilities have to outshine everybody else." Also, even though it is against the law, some employers are also hesitant to hire disabled workers who need reasonable accommodations to perform job duties when they could hire able-bodied workers instead.
"They don’t have the knowledge of reasonable accommodations that are very inexpensive that would allow people with disabilities to work at a very high level,” the CEO of Three Rivers Center for Independent Living in Pennsylvania said. He added that attitudes, especially those of employers, can be the biggest roadblock when it comes to securing employment as a disabled person.
Luckily, those with serious disabilities are often able to supplement their income with Social Security Disability benefits. To find out more about the application and appeals processes, talk to an experienced SSD lawyer in your area.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "With disability, finding a job is tough," Ann Belser, April 26, 2013