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Americans turn to disability after unemployment

When unemployment insurance runs out, an increasing number of Americans are turning to Social Security disability benefits for needed income. According to new studies, the number of people in the United States receiving Social Security Disability benefits has increased 47 percent since 2002, bringing the current number up to 10.6 million.

The newly added stress on the Social Security system may be putting its funds in danger. Most people, even children, who begin receiving Social Security disability benefits, remain in the program until they retire. The average person who receives SSD receives more than $240,000 in benefits, according to a study cited by the White House's Council of Economic Advisors (CEA).

According to the CEA, there is a stark increase of disability benefits applicants depending on the time until unemployment benefits run out. More than 10 percent of those between 50 and 65 years of age with less than $5,000 in assets apply for Social Security disability benefits shortly after their unemployment insurance runs out. Compare that to the less than 1 percent who apply for disability benefits when they still have about 50 weeks before their unemployment benefits end.

The increased number of the unemployed applying for Social Security Disability benefits may reflect the longer time period Americans are going without work. The average length of time of unemployment recently reached a record high in November of 2011, with Americans going almost 41 weeks without work.

Although the Social Security system has come under fire by politicians recently, the CEA claims that if Congress does not continue unemployment insurance's extension, nearly 500,000 people in the U.S. would lose their jobs by 2014.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Social Security Disability Fund A Last Resort For The Unemployed As Benefits Dry Up," Bonnie Kavoussi, Dec. 28, 2011

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