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Tax Rates and Work Incentives in the Social Security Disability Insurance Program: Current Law and Alternative Reforms

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  • H. W. Hoynes
  • R. Moffitt

Abstract

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Program has long been criticized by economists for its apparent work disincentives stemming from the imposition of 100 percent tax rates on earnings. However, the program has been modified in recent years to allow recipients to keep some of their earnings for fixed periods of time. Moreover, additional proposals have been made for lowering the tax rate further and for providing various additional financial work incentives. We use the basic labor supply model to show the expected effect of these reforms on work effort. In addition, we provide a numerical simulation that shows the magnitude of the monetary incentives provided by the reforms for different categories of individuals. We find that the proposed reforms have ambiguous effects on work effort and could, contrary to perceived wisdom, possibly reduce work effort and increase the number of SSDI recipients. However, the simulations show that reforms based on earnings subsidies for private employers are more likely to increase work effort and to lower the caseload.

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Paper provided by University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty in its series Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers with number 1139-97.

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Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1139-97

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  1. Parsons, Donald O, 1980. "Racial Trends in Male Labor Force Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 911-20, December.
  2. Jonathan S. Leonard, 1985. "Labor Supply Incentives and Disincentives for the Disabled," NBER Working Papers 1744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. N. Eissa & H. W. Hoynes, . "The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Labor Supply of Married Couples," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1194-99, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  4. Parsons, Donald O, 1984. "Disability Insurance and Male Labor Force Participation: A Response," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 542-49, June.
  5. Bound, John, 1989. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 482-503, June.
  6. Nada Eissa & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1995. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Working Papers 5158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bound, John, 1991. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1427-34, December.
  8. Haveman, Robert H & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1984. "The Decline in Male Labor Force Participation: Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 532-41, June.
  9. Parsons, Donald O, 1991. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1419-26, December.
  10. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  11. Parsons, Donald O, 1980. "The Decline in Male Labor Force Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 117-34, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Campolieti, Michele & Riddell, Chris, 2012. "Disability policy and the labor market: Evidence from a natural experiment in Canada, 1998–2006," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 306-316.
  2. Kostol, Andreas Ravndal & Mogstad, Magne, 2012. "How Financial Incentives Induce Disability Insurance Recipients to Return to Work," IZA Discussion Papers 6702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen & Gema Zamarro, 2012. "Induced Entry into the Social Security Disability Program: Using Past SGA Changes as a Natural Experiment," Working Papers wp262, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.

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