States With the Most Americans on Disability

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10. Michigan
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 6.0%
> Pct. with recurring neck and back pain: 32.3% (12th highest)
> 2011 labor force participation: 60.3% (7th lowest)
> 2011 unemployment: 10.4% (tied for 6th highest)

At the end of 2011, disabled workers in Michigan received in total $390 million a month from SSDI, more than all but five other states. The state not only had a relatively high number of disabled workers, but also paid them more than most states. On average, disabled workers in Michigan received $1,166 per month in December 2011 from SSDI, more than in all but three other states. Nearly 23% of these recipients received more than $1,600 per month from the program, more than anywhere in the country except New Jersey. Between 2006 and 2011, Michigan’s labor force participation rate declined by five percentage points, from 65.3% to just 60.3% of the population.

9. Missouri
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 6.1%
> Pct. with recurring neck and back pain: 30.5% (24th lowest)
> 2011 labor force participation rate: 65.0% (25th highest)
> 2011 unemployment rate: 8.4% (22nd highest)

Missouri had an average unemployment rate of 8.4% in 2011, lower than the nationwide rate of 8.9%. Many jobless adults were actively seeking a job, a fact that qualifies them received Medicaid or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Still, Missouri was contemplating a welfare transfer program that would move Medicaid and TANF recipients– who must be be employed or taking steps towards employment — onto federal disability programs. To assist in implementing the plan, Missouri would hire Public Consulting Group, which touts its ability to improve the rate at which states’ residents are approved for disability benefits. Opponents of the plan say the initiative would trap families in poverty.

Also Read: States Where Teenagers Cannot Find Work

8. South Carolina
> Pct. of working age population with benefits: 6.3%
> Pct. with recurring neck and back pain: 30.1% (20th lowest)
> 2011 labor force participation rate: 60.0% (6th lowest)
> 2011 unemployment rate: 10.4% (tied for 6th highest)

South Carolina had one of the nation’s highest poverty rates in 2011, when nearly 19% of the population lived below the poverty line. It also had one of the nation’s lowest median annual household incomes, at just over $42,000. South Carolina not only had one of the nation’s highest average unemployment rates in 2011, but also one of the lowest labor force participation rate (unemployed workers actively seeking a job). Meanwhile, few other states had a larger percentage of workers receiving SSDI benefits, which does not require recipients to actively look for a job. State residents were among the most likely to attribute their disability to diseases affecting the musculoskeletal and circulatory systems, such as back pain. South Carolina residents were among the most likely to have high cholesterol or blood pressure, or to have been diagnosed with diabetes in 2012.

7. Tennessee
> Pct. of working age population with benefits: 6.5%
> Pct. with recurring neck and back pain: 32.4% (11th highest)
> 2011 labor force participation rate: 62.7% (16th lowest)
> 2011 unemployment rate: 9.3% (15th highest)

Tennessee had more than 260,000 Social Security disability beneficiaries between the ages of 18 and 64 as of the end of 2011. As a result, disabled workers in the state received a total of $261.5 million in December 2011 from SSDI. Beneficiaries in Tennessee were among the most likely in the nation to receive benefits due to diseases of the circulatory system. According to a Gallup-Healthways survey, state residents were among the most likely in the nation to have diabetes or high cholesterol or to have had a heart attack in 2012.

6. Maine
> Pct. of working age population with benefits: 7.4%
> Pct. with recurring neck and back pain: 33.0% (10th highest)
> 2011 labor force participation rate: 65.2% (24th highest)
> 2011 unemployment rate: 7.7% (22nd lowest)

Although a large percentage of Maine residents received SSDI benefits in December 2011, the typical payment was limited. The monthly disability benefit in Maine was just $1,030 on average, the lowest in the nation. Just 11.5% of those with benefits received at least $1,600, the lowest proportion in the nation and well below the 17.2% nationwide that December. More than 43% of residents who received disability at the end of 2011 were diagnosed as disabled due to a mental disorder, one of the highest in the nation and well above the 35.8% average for all areas.