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Defending SSDI and the "disability belt"

The term "disability belt" is often used disparagingly to refer to an area of the United States that includes the western portion of North Carolina, West Virginia, much of Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as a large swath of Arkansas and most of Mississippi and Alabama. Also included in the area in which a higher than average percentage of adults are disabled: the eastern half of Missouri and parts of Louisiana.

While some politicians use "disability belt" to mock or condemn people in those places, economists understand the term in another way: the areas have unusually high rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Those serious health conditions and others prevent millions of Americans from holding on to their jobs and careers.

A recent news article pointed out those areas in which higher-than-average percentages of people qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are typically home to blue collar workers who often do physical labor. The toll on their bodies by years and years of repetitive, exhausting manual labor can be devastating.

They are often beset with maladies that include chronic pain, back injuries (and other musculoskeletal disorders), problems with their joints, respiratory conditions and difficulties in walking, standing and sitting.

According to the article, "the 'Disability Belt' doesn’t reflect abuse or waste. It reflects the parts of the country where more people really are disabled."

For those prevented by injury or illness from working, Social Security Disability benefits are a lifeline. No one gets rich on SSDI, but people can keep their dignity and a roof over their heads.

If you have applied for SSDI but been turned down, talk to an attorney experienced in Social Security Disability appeals.

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