States With the Most Americans on Disability

July 15, 2016 by Steven M. Peters

Doctor Discussing Medicine in His Clinic With a Patient
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More than 10 million Americans received Social Security disability benefits in 2014. These benefits — paid to disabled workers, disabled widows and widowers, and some other disabled adults — totaled $11.4 billion per month nationwide, a substantial increase from the $6.1 billion paid monthly a decade earlier.

The number of disability beneficiaries varies between states. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Social Security Administration to determine which states had the most residents aged 18-64 receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. West Virginia has the highest rate of beneficiaries in the nation at 8.9% of working-age residents. In Hawaii and Alaska only 2.8% of working-age residents receive disability benefits, the lowest share in the nation.

Disability beneficiary rates vary considerably between regions of the country. Southern states, for example, tend to have higher portions of residents collecting disability benefits. There are only four states in the country with 8% or more of 18-64 year olds receiving disability benefits — and all of them are located in the South. Conversely, Western states tend to have fewer residents on disability. Seven of the 10 states with the lowest shares of working-age residents collecting disability insurance are located in the western part of the country.

Click here to see the states with the most Americans on disability.

Because the vast majority of disability beneficiaries do not work, they are not counted as part of the labor force, which is defined as the total of residents 16 and older who are employed or actively seeking work. Nine of the 10 states with the highest percentages of disability beneficiaries have labor force participation rates less than the national rate. In West Virginia, the state with the highest share of residents collecting disability, only 52.7% of residents 16 and older are part of the labor force, the lowest rate in the country, and more than 10 percentage points below the national rate.

Low labor force participation rates can skew a state’s unemployment rate. Arkansas, for example, has the third highest share of residents collecting disability in the nation. In December 2014, while Arkansas had 73,858 residents actively seeking work, the amount of 18-64 year olds receiving disability benefits was greater than 150,000.

To identify the states with the highest portion of residents aged 18-64 receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed figures published in the Social Security Administration’s Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance program. Published in November 2015, the report contains the most recent data available. Data for statewide monthly benefits also came from this report. Unemployment rates and labor force participation rates for May 2016 are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These are the states with the highest share of residents collecting disability.

Honolulu Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Source: Thinkstock

50. Hawaii
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 2.8%
> Total monthly benefits received: $30.5 million
> Labor force participation rate: 62.6% (tied-20th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.2% (tied-6th lowest)

Alaskan Summer
Source: Thinkstock

49. Alaska
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 2.8%
> Total monthly benefits received: $15.8 million
> Labor force participation rate: 66.3% (tied-13th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 6.7% (the highest)

Provo Orem, Utah Valley wildflowers
Source: Thinkstock

48. Utah
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 3.0%
> Total monthly benefits received: $61.2 million
> Labor force participation rate: 68.3% (8th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.8% (tied-14th lowest)

San Diego, California, Waves
Source: Thinkstock

47. California
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 3.1%
> Total monthly benefits received: $933.0 million
> Labor force participation rate: 61.9% (16th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.2% (17th highest)

winter and Fall foliage at Maroon Bells, Aspen Colorado
Source: Thinkstock

46. Colorado
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 3.3%
> Total monthly benefits received: $135.6 million
> Labor force participation rate: 67.2% (10th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.4% (7th lowest)

Bison, North Dakota
Source: Thinkstock

45. North Dakota
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 3.4%
> Total monthly benefits received: $17.1 million
> Labor force participation rate: 70.4% (2nd highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.2% (tied-6th lowest)

Baltimore, Maryland - Inner Harbor
Source: Thinkstock

44. Maryland
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 3.7%
> Total monthly benefits received: $171.5 million
> Labor force participation rate: 66.9% (12th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.5% (tied-24th lowest)

Austin, Texas
Source: Thinkstock

43. Texas
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 3.7%
> Total monthly benefits received: $715.4 million
> Labor force participation rate: 63.8% (tied-24th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.4% (22nd lowest)

Las Vegas, Nevada 2
Source: Thinkstock

42. Nevada
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 3.8%
> Total monthly benefits received: $83.8 million
> Labor force participation rate: 62.6% (tied-20th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 6.1% (tied-6th highest)

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Newark at night, New Jersey
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41. New Jersey
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 3.9%
> Total monthly benefits received: $285.8 million
> Labor force participation rate: 64.4% (tied-20th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.9% (22nd highest)

Devils Tower, Crooks County, Wyoming
Source: Thinkstock

40. Wyoming
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 3.9%
> Total monthly benefits received: $16.5 million
> Labor force participation rate: 66.2% (15th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.6% (tied-11th highest)

Skyline of Hartford Connecticut on a beautiful sunny day
Source: Thinkstock

39. Connecticut
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.0%
> Total monthly benefits received: $110.3 million
> Labor force participation rate: 66.0% (17th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.7% (10th highest)

Chicago, Illinois
Source: Thinkstock

38. Illinois
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.0%
> Total monthly benefits received: $384.8 million
> Labor force participation rate: 66.1% (16th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 6.4% (2nd highest)

Nebraska sign
Source: Thinkstock

37. Nebraska
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.0%
> Total monthly benefits received: $51.5 million
> Labor force participation rate: 70.1% (3rd highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.0% (3rd lowest)

Sedona in Arizona,USA
Source: Thinkstock

36. Arizona
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.1%
> Total monthly benefits received: $202.9 million
> Labor force participation rate: 60.7% (11th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.6% (tied-11th highest)

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Source: Thinkstock

35. Minnesota
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.1%
> Total monthly benefits received: $161.8 million
> Labor force participation rate: 71.0% (the highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.8% (tied-14th lowest)

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Source: Thinkstock

34. South Dakota
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.1%
> Total monthly benefits received: $22.9 million
> Labor force participation rate: 69.4% (5th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.5% (the lowest)

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Seattle, Washington
Source: Thinkstock

33. Washington
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.3%
> Total monthly benefits received: $230.0 million
> Labor force participation rate: 63.7% (tied-25th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.8% (tied-8th highest)

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Source: Thinkstock

32. Virginia
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.3%
> Total monthly benefits received: $271.9 million
> Labor force participation rate: 64.3% (22nd highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.8% (tied-14th lowest)

New York City, Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Source: Thinkstock

31. New York
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.5%
> Total monthly benefits received: $688.0 million
> Labor force participation rate: 61.4% (12th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.7% (tied-23rd highest)

Kansas house
Source: Thinkstock

30. Kansas
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.6%
> Total monthly benefits received: $94.0 million
> Labor force participation rate: 67.8% (9th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.7% (tied-10th lowest)

Wind Farm, Iowa
Source: Thinkstock

29. Iowa
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.6%
> Total monthly benefits received: $96.7 million
> Labor force participation rate: 69.9% (4th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.9% (15th lowest)

Sunrise Over Crown Point at Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Source: Thinkstock

28. Oregon
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.7%
> Total monthly benefits received: $138.8 million
> Labor force participation rate: 62.7% (21st lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.5% (tied-24th lowest)

Beartooth Mountains at dawn, Red Lodge, Montana, USA.
Source: Thinkstock

27. Montana
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.7%
> Total monthly benefits received: $33.4 million
> Labor force participation rate: 63.7% (tied-25th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.2% (tied-20th lowest)

Atlanta, Georgia 3
Source: Thinkstock

26. Georgia
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.8%
> Total monthly benefits received: $360.5 million
> Labor force participation rate: 61.7% (14th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.3% (16th highest)

Idaho Falls, Idaho
Source: Thinkstock

25. Idaho
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.8%
> Total monthly benefits received: $54.0 million
> Labor force participation rate: 64.1% (23rd highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.7% (tied-10th lowest)

Miami South Beach, Florida
Source: Thinkstock

24. Florida
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 4.9%
> Total monthly benefits received: $708.6 million
> Labor force participation rate: 58.9% (tied-7th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.7% (tied-23rd highest)

Green Bay, Wisconsin
Source: Thinkstock

23. Wisconsin
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 5.0%
> Total monthly benefits received: $207.6 million
> Labor force participation rate: 68.7% (7th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.2% (tied-20th lowest)

Dover, Delaware
Source: Thinkstock

22. Delaware
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 5.1%
> Total monthly benefits received: $36.8 million
> Labor force participation rate: 63.8% (tied-24th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.1% (tied-17th lowest)

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Boston, Massachusetts
Source: Thinkstock

21. Massachusetts
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 5.2%
> Total monthly benefits received: $261.7 million
> Labor force participation rate: 65.0% (19th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.2% (tied-20th lowest)

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Source: Wikimedia Commons

20. New Mexico
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 5.4%
> Total monthly benefits received: $77.1 million
> Labor force participation rate: 57.2% (4th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 6.2% (tied-4th highest)

Cincinnati, Ohio
Source: Thinkstock

19. Ohio
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 5.5%
> Total monthly benefits received: $445.1 million
> Labor force participation rate: 63.6% (22nd lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.1% (tied-18th highest)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 3
Source: Thinkstock

18. Pennsylvania
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 5.6%
> Total monthly benefits received: $526.6 million
> Labor force participation rate: 63.7% (tied-25th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.5% (14th highest)

Indianapolis Downtown, Indiana, USA
Source: Thinkstock

17. Indiana
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 5.6%
> Total monthly benefits received: $268.7 million
> Labor force participation rate: 65.4% (18th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.0% (21st highest)

Durham, North Carolina
Source: Thinkstock

16. North Carolina
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 5.7%
> Total monthly benefits received: $417.5 million
> Labor force participation rate: 61.8% (15th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.1% (tied-18th highest)

Oklahoma house
Source: Thinkstock

15. Oklahoma
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 5.8%
> Total monthly benefits received: $156.0 million
> Labor force participation rate: 62.1% (tied-18th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.7% (tied-23rd highest)

Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island
Source: Thinkstock

14. Rhode Island
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 6.0%
> Total monthly benefits received: $46.3 million
> Labor force participation rate: 64.4% (tied-20th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.4% (15th highest)

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New Hampshire
Source: Thinkstock

13. New Hampshire
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 6.1%
> Total monthly benefits received: $61.6 million
> Labor force participation rate: 68.8% (6th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.7% (2nd lowest)

Louisiana bayou and cypress trees
Source: Thinkstock

12. Louisiana
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 6.1%
> Total monthly benefits received: $198.4 million
> Labor force participation rate: 60.3% (tied-10th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 6.3% (3rd highest)

Vermont farm house
Source: Thinkstock

11. Vermont
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 6.2%
> Total monthly benefits received: $27.1 million
> Labor force participation rate: 67.1% (11th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.1% (4th lowest)

Saginaw County, Michigan
Source: Wikimedia Commons

10. Michigan
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 6.3%
> Total monthly benefits received: $475.7 million
> Labor force participation rate: 61.6% (13th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.7% (tied-23rd highest)

Greenville, South Carolina
Source: Thinkstock

9. South Carolina
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 6.4%
> Total monthly benefits received: $229.9 million
> Labor force participation rate: 59.8% (8th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.6% (tied-11th highest)

St. Louis, Missouri
Source: Thinkstock

8. Missouri
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 6.4%
> Total monthly benefits received: $274.7 million
> Labor force participation rate: 66.3% (tied-13th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.3% (21st lowest)

Chattanooga, Tennessee
Source: Thinkstock

7. Tennessee
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 6.7%
> Total monthly benefits received: $311.0 million
> Labor force participation rate: 60.3% (tied-10th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.1% (tied-17th lowest)

Portland Head Light in Maine at Sunrise
Source: Thinkstock

6. Maine
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 7.7%
> Total monthly benefits received: $69.8 million
> Labor force participation rate: 62.1% (tied-18th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.5% (8th lowest)

Capital Building, Jackson, Mississippi
Source: Thinkstock

5. Mississippi
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 7.9%
> Total monthly benefits received: $161.4 million
> Labor force participation rate: 56.3% (2nd lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.8% (tied-8th highest)

Kentucky (horse farm)
Source: Thinkstock

4. Kentucky
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 8.2%
> Total monthly benefits received: $257.7 million
> Labor force participation rate: 57.3% (5th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.1% (tied-18th highest)

Arkansas, Buffalo River sunrise
Source: Thinkstock

3. Arkansas
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 8.4%
> Total monthly benefits received: $168.1 million
> Labor force participation rate: 58.9% (tied-7th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.8% (tied-14th lowest)

Birmingham, Alabama 2
Source: Thinkstock

2. Alabama
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 8.5%
> Total monthly benefits received: $293.5 million
> Labor force participation rate: 57.1% (3rd lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 6.1% (tied-6th highest)

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View of mountains in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia.
Source: Thinkstock

1. West Virginia
> Pct. receiving disability benefits: 8.9%
> Total monthly benefits received: $122.4 million
> Labor force participation rate: 52.7% (the lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 6.2% (tied-4th highest)