IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Protecting the Household Incomes of Older Workers with Significant Health-Related Work Limitations in an Era of Fiscal Responsibility


  • Jody Schimmel


  • David C. Stapleton



Many proposals designed to reduce federal budget deficits include retirement policy reforms that would delay workers’ access to retirement benefits or reduce the value of benefits to those who retire early. Such reforms would have adverse consequences for the economic well-being of older workers with health-related work limitations. In this paper, we explore a set of policy options that take a "work-support" approach-an earned income tax credit (EITC), an employment services allowance, and a health insurance subsidydesigned to encourage and help workers continue to work if they can. To arrive at a population that might be eligible for such benefits, we first develop a straightforward model to predict the likelihood that a worker reporting a health-related work limitation would experience economic hardship as a result. The model bounds the target population by excluding those who are not expected to experience financial hardship from earnings loss due to a health-related work limitation. It also demonstrates an approach to eligibility determination that would discourage gaming and support rapid eligibility determination-critical for a program designed to extend employment and prevent financial hardship. Using conservative assumptions about program costs, our most expensive program would have a per capita cost of $14,600, or $11,300 if the health insurance subsidy is viewed as an ACA cost. This can be compared to estimated mean annual benefits of $14,855 in 2009 for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries age 50 and older, plus $11,000 per year for Medicare after the 24-month waiting period. Because of its more favorable work incentives, a work-support program is likely to reduce hardship more than a program that preserves existing benefits for the same workers at comparable cost and is likely to be no more difficult to administer.

Suggested Citation

  • Jody Schimmel & David C. Stapleton, 2010. "Protecting the Household Incomes of Older Workers with Significant Health-Related Work Limitations in an Era of Fiscal Responsibility," Working Papers wp244, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp244

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Richard W. Johnson & Gordon B.T. Mermin & Dan Murphy, 2007. "The Impact of Late-Career Health and Employment Shocks on Social Security and Other Wealth," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2007-26, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2007.
    3. Nada Eissa & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2006. "Behavioral Responses to Taxes: Lessons from the EITC and Labor Supply," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 20, pages 73-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Richard W. Johnson & Gordon B.T. Mermin & Cori E. Uccello, 2006. "When The Nest Egg Cracks: Financial Consequences Of Health Problems, Marital Status Changes, And Job Layoffs At Older Ages," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2005-18, Center for Retirement Research.
    5. Natalia Zhivan & Steven A. Sass & Margarita Sapozhnikov & Kelly Haverstick, 2008. "An "Elastic" Earliest Eligibility Age for Social Security," Issues in Brief ib2008-8-2, Center for Retirement Research, revised Feb 2008.
    6. Courtney C. Coile & Kevin Milligan, 2005. "How Portfolios Evolve After Retirement: The Effect of Health Shocks," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2005-17, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2005.
    7. Courtney C. Coile, 2004. "Health Shocks and Couples' Labor Supply Decisions," NBER Working Papers 10810, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Alpert, Abby & Powell, David, 2014. "Estimating Intensive and Extensive Tax Responsiveness: Do Older Workers Respond to Income Taxes?," Working Papers 987-1, RAND Corporation.
    2. Purvi Sevak & Lucie Schmidt & Onur Altindag, 2012. "The Great Recession, Older Workers with Disabilities, and Implications for Retirement Security," Working Papers wp277, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp244. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (MRRC Administrator). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.