First Person: Unemployed, Disabled and Hungry for Work

Down But Not Out: Yahoo! Readers Share Their Stories of Unemployment and Job-Hunting

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First Person: Unemployed, Disabled and Hungry for Work

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Ted Bertling

Five million Americans are among the long-term unemployed--those without a job for 27 weeks or longer--according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Another 7.3 million are looking for work, while the unemployment rate sits at 7.9 percent. Numbers aside, individual stories illustrate how America is affected. To see how joblessness hits home, Yahoo News asked unemployed workers to share their job-hunting stories. Here's one.

FIRST PERSON | I am 40 and live in Racine, Wis. I have been unemployed since I was 33. I try to find work, but I've been disabled since 27, and I do not collect Social Security or other income. On job applications, when I am asked if I have any disabilities, I answer yes.

I have even tried to travel to different states for employment. I am seeking employment where I can. I have tried Lowe's, Home Depot and other similar stores. All I get are letters saying I do not qualify for employment.

By trade, I am a tattoo artist, a job I have been very good at until I became disabled. I have shoulder impingement syndrome, which consists of some of the following: torn ligaments, torn tendons, bone spurs, bursitis and arthritis.

And constant pain. I feel the weather. I hardly sleep. I wish I could be somewhere else, as it is hard on my mind to deal with on a daily basis.

Still, I try to find work where I can in this tough economy, and I am on several lists to be called and never have been called to date.

I am too proud to try to get Social Security. I cannot even afford insurance to get my condition fixed. I even have applied for local state insurance to get the problem resolved so I can work again, always with no luck. So I have remained unemployed now for over 10 years and going.

I injured myself, and I am not able to lift more than 10 pounds at a time or stand or sit for long periods of time.

I just want a job so I can try to cover the medical expenses myself since I cannot get help. Surgery costs are around $18,000, which sounds pretty reasonable to me.

I am no stranger to hard work. Since 12, I cut grass, shoveled snow, painted houses and fences, swept chimneys, worked in heat treatment plants with dirt and oil, worked in the casting of hot metals, laid brick, made bathroom sinks, swept floors in factories, did drill-press work, sanding work, and worked at fast food places.

I do not lie to get jobs or hid my injury. I do want to work, but I worry now that my disability will mean I won't be hired by companies because they're afraid it will come back on them and their company.

I cannot afford private insurance as I do not have steady income. Now I find whatever I can do to reach my goal of paying for my own surgery.

It is a sad world when you live in pain, day in and day out, and you want and need to find work.

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