Social Security Administration
Office of Retirement and Disability Policy
500 E. St., NW
Washington, DC 20254
Institutional Affiliation: Social Security Administration
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|December 2018||The Effect of Economic Conditions on the Disability Insurance Program: Evidence from the Great Recession|
with Nicole Maestas, Kathleen J. Mullen: w25338
We examine the effect of cyclical job displacement during the Great Recession on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Exploiting variation in the severity and timing of the recession across states, we estimate the effect of unemployment on SSDI applications and awards. We find the Great Recession induced nearly one million SSDI applications that otherwise would not have been filed, of which 41.8 percent were awarded benefits, resulting in over 400,000 new beneficiaries who made up 8.9 percent of all SSDI entrants between 2008-2012. More than one-half of the recession-induced awards were made on appeal. The induced applicants had less severe impairments than the average applicant. Only 9 percent had the most severe, automatically-qualifying impairments, 33 percent had fu...
|January 2016||The Effect of Disability Insurance Payments on Beneficiaries’ Earnings|
with Alexander Gelber, Timothy Moore: w21851
A crucial issue in studying social insurance programs is whether they affect work decisions through income or substitution effects. We examine this in the context of U.S. Social Security Disability Insurance (DI), one of the largest social insurance programs in the U.S. The formula linking DI payments to past earnings has discontinuous changes in the marginal replacement rate that allow us to use a regression kink design to estimate the effect of payment size on earnings. Using Social Security Administration data on all new DI beneficiaries from 2001 to 2007, we document a robust income effect of DI payments on earnings. Our preferred estimate is that an increase in DI payments of one dollar causes an average decrease in beneficiaries’ earnings of twenty cents. This suggests that the incom...
Published: Alexander Gelber & Timothy J. Moore & Alexander Strand, 2017. "The Effect of Disability Insurance Payments on Beneficiaries' Earnings," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, vol 9(3), pages 229-261. citation courtesy of
|January 2015||Does Delay Cause Decay? The Effect of Administrative Decision Time on the Labor Force Participation and Earnings of Disability Applicants|
with David H. Autor, Nicole Maestas, Kathleen J. Mullen: w20840
This paper measures the causal effect of time out of the labor force on subsequent employment of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicants and distinguishes it from the discouragement effect of receiving disability benefits. Using a unique Social Security Administration workload database to identify exogenous variation in decision times induced by differences in processing speed among disability examiners to whom applicants are randomly assigned, we find that longer processing times reduce the employment and earnings of SSDI applicants for multiple years following application, with the effects concentrated among applicants awarded benefits during their initial application. A one standard deviation (2.1 month) increase in initial processing time reduces long-run “substantial ga...