Why might contingent workers not be taking advantage of the SSD program?
Today, a larger part of the workforce identifies as a contingent worker than ever before. The Federal Reserve estimates that there are some 75 million gig workers in America. Contingent workers are generally defined to include independent contractors, freelancers and anyone employed in a temporary or gig job. A recent study conducted by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College examined the number of contingent workers who seek Social Security Disability benefits. The study found contingent workers are underrepresented among SSD applicants, raising interesting questions as to why and whether these workers typically qualify.
Older Gig Workers Seek SSD in Lower Numbers
The Center for Retirement Research (CRR) study found that contingent workers between the ages of 50 and 64 are some 2.2 percent less likely to seek SSD benefits than those with traditional jobs. This figure becomes more significant when you recognize that only .8 percent of all workers in this age range apply for disability benefits. Even further, contingent workers are overall one third less likely to receive SSD benefits and on average those accepted will receive $150 less per month than traditional workers. This can be explained by the fact that contingency workers tend to earn less per month than traditional employees.
Researchers found it surprising that contingency workers tended to seek SSD benefits less than traditional workers, especially when contingent workers tend to report limitations in their ability to work at higher rates than others. Researchers speculated that contingent workers, with less secure income, may feel more reluctant to leave their positions to pursue an SSD claim. Even further, these workers may have less funds to seek attorney assistance and may lack vital information about SSD that a lawyer or employer would otherwise provide.
Contingency workers who find themselves struggling to maintain their position due to a disability should consult with an SSD attorney. Your attorney can help you to pursue a disability claim, at times even as you continue to work. Your lawyer can review your disability and income to file a strong application that can help you to receive the benefits you need.