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The Impact of Unemployment Insurance Extensions On Disability Insurance Application and Allowance Rates

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  • Matthew S. Rutledge

Abstract

Both unemployment insurance (UI) extensions and the availability of disability benefits have disincentive effects on job search. But UI extensions can reduce the efficiency cost of disability benefits if UI recipients delay disability application until they exhaust their unemployment benefits. This paper, the first to focus on the effect of UI extensions on disability applications, investigates whether UI eligibility, extension, and exhaustion affect the timing of disability applications and the composition of the applicant pool. Jobless individuals are significantly less likely to apply to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) during UI extensions, and significantly more likely to apply when UI is ultimately exhausted. Healthier potential applicants appear more likely to delay, as state allowance rates increase after a new UI extension. Simulations find that a 13-week UI extension decreases SSDI and Medicare costs, offsetting about half of the increase in UI payments; this suggests that the benefits of UI extensions may be understated — permanent disability benefits are diverted to shorter-run unemployment benefits and, potentially, new jobs, while easing the burden on the nearly insolvent SSDI Trust Fund.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew S. Rutledge, 2013. "The Impact of Unemployment Insurance Extensions On Disability Insurance Application and Allowance Rates," Working Papers 13-10, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:13-10
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    File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2013/CES-WP-13-10.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Norma B. Coe & Kelly Haverstick & Alicia H. Munnell & Anthony Webb, 2011. "What Explains State Variation in SSDI Application Rates?," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2011-23, Center for Retirement Research, revised Nov 2011.
    2. Chen, Susan & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2008. "The work disincentive effects of the disability insurance program in the 1990s," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 757-784, February.
    3. Bound, John & Burkhauser, Richard V., 1999. "Economic analysis of transfer programs targeted on people with disabilities," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 51, pages 3417-3528 Elsevier.
    4. Erica L. Groshen & Simon M. Potter, 2003. "Has structural change contributed to a jobless recovery?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Aug).
    5. Pellizzari, Michele, 2006. "Unemployment duration and the interactions between unemployment insurance and social assistance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 773-798, December.
    6. Roed, Knut & Zhang, Tao, 2005. "Unemployment duration and economic incentives--a quasi random-assignment approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(7), pages 1799-1825, October.
    7. Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen & Alexander Strand, 2013. "Does Disability Insurance Receipt Discourage Work? Using Examiner Assignment to Estimate Causal Effects of SSDI Receipt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1797-1829, August.
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