Sep 27, 2011

Disability claims by the unemployed skyrocketing

Laid-off workers desperate for money, many of them aging baby boomers, are flooding South Florida Social Security offices like never before to apply for disability benefits.

Demand is so great nationwide that congressional estimates show the disability program will run out of money and won't be able to cover all beneficiaries in just six years.

In Florida, applications are up more than 40 percent since 2007. Many are coming from people with mental or physical conditions who once were able to work and now can't, or who lost their job and are unable to find a new one.

"It's very much in tune with the timing of our recession,'' said Randy Zeldin, a Boca Raton attorney who handles disability claims and has seen an uptick in South Floridians in their 50s turning to the federal program for the first time.

"Maybe they would have had someone who would accommodate them, but when there's a scarcity of jobs, it becomes more difficult," Zeldin said. "In a better economy, they would tough it out.''