Occupational impairment and disability among applicants for Social Security disability benefits in Pennsylvania.
OBJECTIVE: The study goal was to assess the extent of workplace-related disease and injury among Social Security Disability Insurance applicants. METHODS: A convenience sample of 240 consecutive applicants to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Disability Determination was studied to assess the prevalence of work-related disorders. An applicant had a work-related condition if there was a clear statement of a workplace illness or injury associated with the impairment, or if the applicant had worked at an occupation with a high likelihood of exposures known or suspected to contribute to the condition of interest. RESULTS: Of the 240 applicants, 166 (69%) were awarded disability insurance benefits; a total of 27 (11%) had work-related conditions, including 14 of the 166 (8%) who were found to be disabled. Forty percent of the 27 had a disorder that was musculoskeletal in origin. Of 59 applicants with cancer, 10.2% had some work-related etiological component. Of an estimated 71,680 adult disability insurance applicants in Pennsylvania in 1990, 5134 new insurance beneficiaries had a projected occupationally related disability. CONCLUSIONS: A substantial number of applicants for disability insurance benefits suffer from an impairment caused or exacerbated by prior workplace exposures. These individuals may serve as sentinel events for initiating follow-up surveillance and prevention activities.
Bresnitz, EA; Frumkin, H; Goldstein, L; Neumark, D; Hodgson, M; Needleman, C
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