While the national statistic for people enrolled in SSDI or SSI is about 6 percent, some states in the southern and Appalachia regions have rates at over 10 percent. This disparity in numbers can be attributed to several factors related to economics and demographics.
The most significant factor is education. States that have low levels of people graduating with at least a high-school diploma have higher rates of disability as those people are less likely to be able to perform other work within the national economy. Some other factors to consider are: age, immigrant population, and industrial economy.
Since disability becomes more probable in older populations, those states with a higher median age than the rest of the country have more SSI and SSDI recipients. Appalachia, which is composed of all of West Virginia and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, is among those states with a higher elder demographic, while the West and Southwest are considered “young.” The region is also 42 percent rural with forestry, mining, and manufacturing being the primary industries- working environments that are physically demanding and rarely include transferable skills that are adaptable to other jobs.
Furthermore, states with large populations of immigrants like California, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Florida, and Texas, also see lower levels of people receiving disability benefits because immigrants are less likely to apply for and collect assistance.