Nearly one out of every five West Virginian has some form of disability, according to the Pew Foundation. That’s the highest rate in the country. Perhaps worse, disabilities affect West Virginians of working age-nearly one in 10 working-age Mountaineers receive disability insurance from the Social Security Administration, as this business news site reports. That, too, is the highest rate in the country.
West Virginia’s disabled are struggling: Barely a quarter of people with disabilities are able to find jobs, according to researchers at West Virginia University. That’s the lowest disabled employment rate in the country.
West Virginia may lead the nation in disability, but it’s not exactly an island. Overall, the number of people applying for disability benefits doubled in the first decade of this century, the Social Security Administration reports.
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Given the stakes, insurance companies and their allies are quick to seize these numbers and argue that there’s something rotten in West Virginia. The facts don’t bear them out-even pro-insurance writers concede that West Virginia either leads the nation (or comes in second) with its rates of heart attacks, diabetes, hypertension and recurring knee, leg and back pain-but that hasn’t stopped them from trying. This Forbes piece is pretty typical in blaming lawyers for “runaway” disability payments.
Sadly, their efforts may well be having an impact. According to figures kept by the Social Security Administration, for instance, the number of disability applications have risen since the beginning of the century, but the percentage of approvals have fallen precipitously: In 2002, nearly half of all applications were approved; last year, fewer than a third of applications were approved.
Disability law can be very complicated, insurers tend to fight hard and federal bureaucrats can be overwhelmed by caseloads and public pressure. If you or a loved one is struggling with a disability, reach out to our experienced lawyers today.