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Mature gig workers fall through Social Security Disability cracks

You’re in your 50s and 60s and work in the “gig economy” as an independent contractor, temporary employee, consultant, etc., you may be in danger of falling through the cracks.

According to a new study, workers like you are less likely to get important information about their rights to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

They’re also less likely to get help applying for benefits and more likely to be turned down when they do.

SSDI essential to workers who become disabled

Social Security Disability Insurance is meant for people who become totally disabled before reaching retirement age after having paid into the Social Security system for enough time.

To receive SSDI benefits, you must apply and pass the program’s screening process, which rejects about two thirds of the applications.

The mystery of missing applications

The Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College, a leading center for studies on retirement, researched workers 50 to 64 years old who’ve done “contingent work.”

They found that, given the number of applications that would normally be expected from this part of the population, a full one quarter are missing. They have simply not been submitted.

When they do apply, and their application is accepted, they receive less from the program by an average of about $150 a month.

These disparities aren’t due to better health, since these workers are not less but rather more likely to report medical challenges to working.

An information gap with major consequences

Several factors may explain these SSDI differences from so-called traditional workers.

Workplace human resources departments may be less likely to provide these workers with the same level of information usually provided to traditional workers.

These older gig workers may also be less able to afford the services of a financial advisor who may encourage them to apply for SSDI benefits.

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