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Consequences of Eliminating Federal Disability Benefits for Substance Abusers

  • Pinka Chatterji
  • Ellen Meara

Using annual, repeated cross-sections from national household survey data, we estimate how the January 1997 termination of federal disability insurance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance (DI), for those with Drug Addiction and Alcoholism affected labor market outcomes among individuals targeted by the legislation. We also examine whether the policy change affected health insurance, health care utilization, and arrests. We employ propensity score methods to address differences in observed characteristics between substance users and others, and we used a difference-in-difference-in-difference approach to mitigate potential omitted variables bias. In the short-run (1997-1999), declines in SSI receipt accompanied appreciable increases in labor force participation and current employment. There was little measurable effect of the policy change on insurance and utilization, but we have limited power to detect effects on these outcomes. In the long-run (1999-2002), the rate of SSI receipt returned to earlier levels, and short-run gains in labor market outcomes waned.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13407.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Publication status: published as Chatterji, Pinka & Meara, Ellen, 2010. "Consequences of eliminating federal disability benefits for substance abusers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 226-240, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13407
Note: HC HE
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  1. Susan L. Ettner & Richard G. Frank & Ronald C. Kessler, 1997. "The Impact of Psychiatric Disorders on Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 5989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  3. Guido Imbens, 2000. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Using the Estimated Propensity Score," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1166, Econometric Society.
  4. Lucie Schmidt & Purvi Sevak, 2004. "AFDC, SSI, and Welfare Reform Aggressiveness: Caseload Reductions versus Caseload Shifting," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
  5. Dobkin, Carlos & Puller, Steven L., 2007. "The effects of government transfers on monthly cycles in drug abuse, hospitalization and mortality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2137-2157, December.
  6. Susan L. Ettner & Richard G. Frank & Ronald C. Kessler, 1997. "The Impact of psychiatric disorders on labor market outcomes," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(1), pages 64-81, October.
  7. Lucie Schmidt & Purvi Sevak, 2000. "AFDC, SSI, and Welfare Reform Aggressiveness: Caseload Reductions vs. Caseload Shifting," Department of Economics Working Papers 2002-03, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  8. Ellen Meara & Richard Frank, 2006. "Welfare Reform, Work Requirements, and Employment Barriers," NBER Working Papers 12480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
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