Number of unemployed people with disabilities rises

Some people here in Milwaukee may have heard the news last week that the number of unemployed people with disabilities has recently surged upward. The U.S. Department of Labor announced last week that 2 percent more disabled people sought unemployment benefits in January 2013 compared to January 2012.

Many people might find this information a bit puzzling. Isn’t the economy getting better, not worse, they might ask. In fact, the overall unemployment rate remained stable in January and it was reported that 157,000 new jobs were added. So, why are more people with disabilities out of work?

This question is not easy to answer because the Department of Labor has only tracked employment statistics regarding people with disabilities since 2008 and it is thus difficult to identify trends.

What we do know is that more people with disabilities were out of work in January and more people with disabilities who were out of work sought employment, according to a news report. This may suggest that workers with disabilities are having difficulty obtaining Social Security disability benefits or long-term disability benefits. Both forms of benefits are very difficult for deserving applicants to receive.

Additionally, one reason that workers with disabilities often struggle to gain employment is that employers are practicing discrimination. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act outlaws employment discrimination against those with disabilities, employers often base employment decisions on stereotypes about disabilities and refuse to offer reasonable accommodations to workers.

Each person with a disability who is seeking employment is dealing with unique circumstances. It is likely, however, that some of these people may be dealing with rights violations of one sort or another. It is important that those who are facing discrimination in employment, and those who are having difficulty obtaining disability benefits, have legal advocates who will stand up for their rights.

Source:, “Unemployment surges for people with disabilities,” Michelle Diament, Feb. 1, 2013

  • Our law firm holds employers accountable when they violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. We also help people with disabilities obtain disability benefits.


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