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Estimates of the Potential Insurance Value of Disability Insurance for Individuals with Mental Health Impairments

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  • John Bound

    (University of Michigan)

  • Kyle J. Caswell

    (Urban Institute)

  • Timothy Waidmann

    (Urban Institute)

Abstract

Since the mid-1980s there has been dramatic growth in the number and fraction of DI and SSI beneficiaries with mental illness. With longer life expectancies and younger ages of disability onset than beneficiaries with physical impairments, their growth exerts added fiscal pressure on the programs. While not specifically focused on mental illness, fears of an increase in the duration (and thus prevalence) of disability claims that may result from this demographic shift have generated calls to tighten eligibility rules again. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study linked to SSA administrative records, we created statistically matched control groups of non-beneficiaries with severe mental illness. We then estimated the earnings, income, and health insurance coverage among rejected DI/SSI applicants with mental illness who have characteristics comparable to persons awarded benefits on the basis of mental impairments. We found that even after controlling for health and demographic characteristics, DI beneficiaries were substantially worse off than rejected applicants in terms of wealth and income. While these rejected applicants with mental illness were worse off than those with physical impairments, our findings suggests that the programs successfully select applicants with the greatest income needs, and that retrenchment could result in significant hardship.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp283.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp283

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  1. Nicole Maestas & Kathleen Mullen & Alexander Strand, 2012. "Does Disability Insurance Receipt Discourage Work? Using Examiner Assignment to Estimate Causal Effects of SSDI Receipt," Working Papers wp241, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  2. Robert Barsky & John Bound & Kerwin Charles & Joseph Lupton, 2001. "Accounting for the Black-White Wealth Gap: A Nonparametric Approach," NBER Working Papers 8466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John Bound & Timothy Waidmann, 2010. "The Social Security Early Retirement Benefit as Safety Net," Working Papers wp240, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
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