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Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing

  • Mikhail Golosov
  • Aleh Tsyvinski

The paper analyzes an implementation of an optimal disability insurance system as a competitive equilibrium with taxes. The problem is modeled as a dynamic mechanism design problem in which disability is unobservable. We show that an asset-tested disability system in which a disability transfer is paid only if an agent has assets below a specified maximum implements the optimum. The logic behind the result is as follows: we show that an agent who falsely claims disability has higher savings than a truly disabled agent, and an asset test prevents false claimants from receiving disability. We also evaluate welfare benefits of asset testing. For a calibrated economy, we numerically compare the optimal system to the best system without asset testing. We find that gains of asset testing are significant and equal to about 0.65% of consumption.

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 784828000000000450.

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Date of creation: 18 Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:784828000000000450
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  5. Hansen, G.D. & Imrohoroglu, A., 1990. "The Role Of Unemployment Insurance In An Economy With Liquidity Constraints And Moral Hazard," Papers 21, California Los Angeles - Applied Econometrics.
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  8. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1986. " Payroll-Tax Financed Social Insurance with Variable Retirement," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 25-50.
  9. Abraham, Arpad & Pavoni, Nicola, 2004. "Efficient Allocations with Moral Hazard and Hidden Borrowing and Lending," Working Papers 04-05, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  10. Hubbard, R Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1995. "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 360-99, April.
  11. Mikhail Golosov, 2007. "Optimal Taxation With Endogenous Insurance Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 487-534, 05.
  12. Hugo Benitez-Silva & Moshe Buchinsky & Hiu Man Chan & Sofia Cheidvasser & John Rust, 2000. "How Large is the Bias is Self-Reported Disability?," NBER Working Papers 7526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Gilbert Ghez & Gary S. Becker, 1975. "The Allocation of Time and Goods over the Life Cycle," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ghez75-1, May.
  14. Albanesi, Stefania & Sleet, Christopher, 2003. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation with Private Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 4006, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Martin Feldstein, 1985. "Should Social Security Be Means Tested?," NBER Working Papers 1775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2003. "Designing optimal disability insurance," Working Papers 628, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  17. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1999. "Social security in theory and practice (II): Efficiency theories, narrative theories and implications for reform," Economics Working Papers 385, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  18. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2001. "The Rise in Disability Recipiency and the Decline in Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 8336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Diamond, P. A. & Mirrlees, J. A., 1978. "A model of social insurance with variable retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 295-336, December.
  20. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2004. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000729, UCLA Department of Economics.
  21. Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "Optimal Income Transfer Programs: Intensive Versus Extensive Labor Supply Responses," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 1039-1073, August.
  22. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1995. "The Design of Income Maintenance Programmes," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 187-221, April.
  23. J. A. Mirrlees, 1976. "Optimal Tax Theory: A Synthesis," Working papers 176, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  24. 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.
  25. Hugo Benitez-Silva & Moshe Buchinsky & John Rust, 2004. "How Large are the Classification Errors in the Social Security Disability Award Process?," NBER Working Papers 10219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. J. A. Mirrlees & P. Diamond, 1982. "Social Insurance with Variable Retirement and Private Saving," Working papers 296, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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