According to a recent study, more and more rural citizens in Georgia and elsewhere in the United States are relying on Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. This also comes at a time when unemployment remains high, and budget-conscious lawmakers are worried about Social Security being tapped out for future generations.

According to the study from the Center for Rural Strategies, 20.8 percent of Social Security recipients in rural areas receive disability assistance, compared to the national rate of 18.5 percent. More than 400,000 new people receive disability benefits every year since the start of the recession. And the Appalachian region has one of the highest disability rates in the country.

A spokesman for the Center for Rural Strategies said the highest rates are found in counties and areas that focused on industries like mining, forestry and agriculture. He said as those jobs have dried up, workers have had trouble maintaining steady work and the access to health care has declined. One Social Security attorney in another state said some beneficiaries might not even need disability if they could have had reliable access to good health care.

It appears that the trend for the rest of the country holds true for Georgia, according to the data. In Fulton County, home to Atlanta, 18.4 percent of Social Security recipients are on disability. Compare that to rural Telfair County, which has 30.2 percent of Social Security recipients on disability.

For many in rural areas, those disability benefits can be a crucial lifeline in keeping a roof over one’s head and putting food on the table. As more jobs leave rural areas, those people who are disabled and need a source of income should be able to rely on those disability benefits.

Source: Kansas City Star, “Rural communitives have strongest reliance on disability benefits,” Rick Montgomery, Jan. 29, 2012