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SSDI most important in rural communities

With disability claims on the rise, here in Pittsburgh as well as throughout the nation, studies have been conducted to find out who uses Social Security disability benefits the most. A recent data analysis shows that the communities that are the most dependent on SSDI benefits are poor rural areas.

People who use SSDI to get by are those who are below retirement age but cannot work due to medical reasons. Since the beginning of the recent recession, more than 400,000 Americans have joined the list of SSDI recipients annually. The monthly average is about $1,000 per person.

Investigating the recipients of SSDI reveals a cycle of poverty. The communities tend to be where extraction industries like mining and agriculture once thrived. Communities that once depended on manual labor can no longer do so. Rural areas also typically have deficient health care options. It could be hours over hilly or desolate roads to get to the nearest hospital. Those who are financially struggling also tend to be in poorer health.

One 32-year-old woman, who has muscular dystrophy, lives on the $716 she gets from Social Security each month. Her fiancé is trying to get SSDI, and both of her parents receive monthly checks. Social Security plays a large role in the livelihood of not only her family, but her community. Not everyone in the community is a native -- many have entered the community because it is more affordable than the surrounding urban areas.

Letting people know about their benefits and aiding them in the process is a good way to help improve their quality of life. Sadly, because of a backlogged system many applicants in need of assistance choose to silently suffer without the aid of SSDI benefits.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Rural communities have strongest reliance on disability benefits," Rick Montgomery, Jan. 29, 2012

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