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Tracking the Household Income of SSDI and SSI Applicants


  • John Bound

    (University of Michigan and NBER)

  • Richard Burkhauser

    (Cornell University)

  • Austin Nichols

    (University of Michigan)


Using panel data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation linked to Social Security Administration disability determination records we trace the pattern of household income and the sources of that income from 38 months prior to 39 months following application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI). We find that the average applicant’s labor earnings declines dramatically beginning six month before application but the average applicant’s household income drops much less dramatically both in the months just before or just after application and over the next three years, and does so even for those denied benefits. However, we also found substantial heterogeneity in household income outcomes in both the SSDI and SSI applicant population. Our quantile regressions suggest that higher income households experience greater percentage declines in their post-application income. Such results are consistent with the lower replacement rate for higher earners established in the SSDI program and the low absolute level of protection provided to all SSI applicants regardless of income prior to application.

Suggested Citation

  • John Bound & Richard Burkhauser & Austin Nichols, 2001. "Tracking the Household Income of SSDI and SSI Applicants," Working Papers wp009, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp009

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Mary Daly & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2003. "The Supplemental Security Income Program," NBER Chapters,in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 79-140 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Benitez-Silva, Hugo & Buchinsky, Moshe & Chan, Hiu Man & Rust, John & Sheidvasser, Sofia, 1999. "An empirical analysis of the social security disability application, appeal, and award process," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 147-178, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruce Meyer & Wallace K. C. Mok, 2016. "Disability, Earnings, Income and Consumption," NBER Chapters,in: Social Insurance Programs (Trans-Atlantic Public Economic Seminar - TAPES) National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Richard V. Burkhauser & Mary C. Daly, 2002. "Policy Watch: U.S. Disability Policy in a Changing Environment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 213-224, Winter.
    3. Norma Coe & Stephan Lindner & Kendrew Wong & April Wu, 2014. "How do people with disabilities cope while waiting for disability insurance benefits?," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-27, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Delia Furtado & Nikolaos Theodoropoulos, 2012. "Immigrant Networks and the Take-Up of Disability Programs: Evidence from US Census Data," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 09-2012, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    6. Andreas Ravndal Kostol & Magne Mogstad, 2014. "How Financial Incentives Induce Disability Insurance Recipients to Return to Work," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(2), pages 624-655, February.
    7. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2006. "The Growth in the Social Security Disability Rolls: A Fiscal Crisis Unfolding," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 71-96, Summer.
    8. Richard V. Burkhauser & J. S. Butler & Gulcin Gumus, 2004. "Dynamic programming model estimates of Social Security Disability Insurance application timing," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 671-685.
    9. 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.
    10. Perry Singleton, 2009. "The Effective Target of the Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 119, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    11. Richard V. Burkhauser & Mary C. Daly & Philip R. de Jong, 2008. "Curing the Dutch Disease: Lessons for United States Disability Policy," Working Papers wp188, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    12. Susan E. Chen, 2012. "Spousal Labor Supply Responses to Government Programs: Evidence from the Disability Insurance Program," Working Papers wp261, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    13. Richard W. Johnson & Melissa M. Favreault & Corina Mommaerts, 2009. "Work Ability and the Social Insurance Safety Net in the Years Prior to Retirement," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2009-28, Center for Retirement Research, revised Nov 2009.
    14. Lucie Schmidt, 2012. "The Supplemental Security Income Program and welfare reform," Public Policy Discussion Paper 12-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    15. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin Murphy & Robert Topel, 2002. "Current Unemployment, Historically Contemplated," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(1), pages 79-136.
    16. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Butler, J. S. & Gumus, Gulcin, 2003. "Option Value and Dynamic Programming Model Estimates of Social Security Disability Insurance Application Timing," IZA Discussion Papers 941, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Markussen, Simen & Mykletun, Arnstein & Røed, Knut, 2012. "The case for presenteeism — Evidence from Norway's sickness insurance program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 959-972.
    18. Till von Wachter & Jae Song & Joyce Manchester, 2011. "Trends in Employment and Earnings of Allowed and Rejected Applicants to the Social Security Disability Insurance Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3308-3329, December.
    19. Lucie Schmidt, 2013. "The New Safety Net? Supplemental Security Income after Welfare Reform," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-07, Department of Economics, Williams College.

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