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Designing Disability Insurance Reforms: Tightening Eligibility Rules or Reducing Benefits?

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  • Haller, Andreas
  • Staubli, Stefan
  • Zweimüller, Josef

Abstract

We study the welfare effects of disability insurance (DI) and derive social-optimality conditions for the two main DI policy parameters: (i) DI eligibility rules and (ii) DI benefits. Causal evidence from two DI reforms in Austria generate fiscal multipliers (total over mechanical cost reductions) of 2.0-2.5 for stricter DI eligibility rules and of 1.3-1.4 for lower DI benefits. Stricter DI eligibility rules generate lower income losses (earnings + transfers), particularly at the lower end of the income distribution. Hence, to roll back the Austrian DI program, policy makers should implement tighter DI eligibility rules rather than lower DI benefits. An application of our framework to the DI system of the U.S. suggests that DI eligibility rules are too strict and DI benefits are too low.

Suggested Citation

  • Haller, Andreas & Staubli, Stefan & Zweimüller, Josef, 2020. "Designing Disability Insurance Reforms: Tightening Eligibility Rules or Reducing Benefits?," CEPR Discussion Papers 15121, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:15121
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    benefits; Disability insurance; Policy Reform; screening;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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