MONTPELIER, Vt. — A new report finds that the share of people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance due to mental illness is on the rise in Vermont despite declining slightly nationwide.

The report from the Legislative Joint Fiscal Office says that, in December 2016, 46 percent of people in the program were primarily diagnosed with a mental health disorder, up from 40 percent in 2001. Across the country, that number has fallen from 37 percent to 35 percent.

James Smith, division policy manager at the Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, tells Vermont Public Radio that doesn’t necessarily mean the state has more mentally ill people. He says the state may just be providing better outreach and getting more eligible people enrolled in the program.

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