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Applications, Denials, and Appeals for Social Security Disability Insurance

Listed author(s):
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

    (University of Pennsylvania and NBER)

  • John W.R. Phillips

    (Social Security Administration)

This project explores the process by which older workers apply for, and are awarded, Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) benefits. Our focus is on how and whether DI serves as a path out of the labor market at older ages. This research is important to the extent that proposals to raise the early retirement age under Social Security alter the opportunity set available to older workers. Identifying the characteristics of older workers who apply for DI under current rules, those who are rejected after application, and those who then go on to appeal, can provide policymakers with insight regarding the potential well-being of the “at risk” population if the early retirement age were to rise. We use data from the Health and Retirement Study to compare older workers prior to application, and use these characteristics to predict future DI application and award patterns. The findings indicate that older people initially in poor health and with low economic status are more likely to apply for DI thereafter, as compared to those reporting no health problems and with more assets. Nevertheless few factors distinguish statistically between applicants awarded versus denied benefits, and between those who appeal rejected applications versus those who do not.

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Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp032.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2002
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp032
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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Parsons, Donald O, 1980. "The Decline in Male Labor Force Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 117-134, February.
  2. Phillip B. Levine & Olivia S. Mitchell & John W. Phillips, "undated". "A Benefit of One's Own: Older Women's Retirement Entitlements Under Social Security," Pension Research Council Working Papers 99-21, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  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.
  4. Kreider, Brent, 1999. "Social Security Disability Insurance: Applications, Awards, and Lifetime Income Flows," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(4), pages 784-827, October.
  5. Olivia S. Mitchell & John W.R. Phillips, 2001. "Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance," Working Papers wp011, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  6. Olivia S. Mitchell & John W. R. Phillips, 2000. "Retirement Responses to Early Social Security Benefit Reductions," Working Papers wp006, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  7. Jianting Hu & Kajal Lahiri & Denton R. Vaughan & Bernard Wixon, 2001. "A Structural Model Of Social Security'S Disability Determination Process," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 348-361, May.
  8. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2000. "Non Random Selection in the HRS Social Security Earnings Sample," Working Papers 00-01, RAND Corporation.
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