The Unsustainable Rise of the Disability Rolls in the United States: Causes, Consequences, and Policy Options
Two ailments limit the effectiveness and threaten the long-term viability of the U.S. Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI). First, the program is ineffective in assisting the vast majority of workers with less severe disabilities to reach their employment potential or earn their own way. Second, the program's expenditures on cash transfers and medical benefits-- exceeding $1,500 per U.S. household--are extremely high and growing unsustainably. There is no compelling evidence, however, that the incidence of disabling conditions among the U.S. working age population is rising. This paper discusses the challenges facing the SSDI program, explains how its design has led to rapid and unsustainable growth, considers why past efforts to slow program growth have met with minimal and fleeting success, and outlines three recent proposals that would modify the program to slow growth while potentially improving the employment prospects of workers with disabilities. Because these proposals depart substantially from a program design that has seen little change in half a century, their efficacy is unproven. Additionally, even well-meaning efforts to place the SSDI program on a sustainable trajectory run the risk of creating additional hurdles for claimants who are truly unable to work. Nevertheless, the imminent exhaustion of the SSDI Trust Fund provides an impetus and an opportunity to explore innovative solutions to the longstanding policy challenges posed by the SSDI program.
|Date of creation:||Dec 2011|
|Note:||HE LS PE|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- repec:mpr:mprres:7018 is not listed on IDEAS
- David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2003. "The Rise in the Disability Rolls and the Decline in Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 157-206.
- Moore, Timothy J., 2015.
"The employment effects of terminating disability benefits,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 30-43.
- Timothy J. Moore, 2014. "The Employment Effect of Terminating Disability Benefits," NBER Working Papers 19793, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Timothy J. Moore, 2015. "The Employment Effects of Terminating Disability Benefits," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2015n02, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
- Mark Duggan & Scott A. Imberman, 2009. "Why Are the Disability Rolls Skyrocketing? The Contribution of Population Characteristics, Economic Conditions, and Program Generosity," NBER Chapters,in: Health at Older Ages: The Causes and Consequences of Declining Disability among the Elderly, pages 337-379 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David Autor & Nicole Maestas & Kathleen Mullen & Alexander Strand, 2011. "Does Delay Cause Decay? The Effect of Administrative Decision Time on the Labor Force Participation and Earnings of Disability Applicants," Working Papers wp258, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
- David H. Autor & Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen & Alexander Strand, 2015. "Does Delay Cause Decay? The Effect of Administrative Decision Time on the Labor Force Participation and Earnings of Disability Applicants," NBER Working Papers 20840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Autor, David & Maestas, Nicole & Mullen, Kathleen & Strand, Alexander, 2015. "Does Delay Cause Decay? The Effect of Administrative Decision Time on the Labor Force Participation and Earnings of Disability Applicants," IZA Discussion Papers 8788, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Mullen, Kathleen J. & Autor, David H. & Maestas, Nicole & Strand, Alexander, 2015. "Does Delay Cause Decay? The Effect of Administrative Decision Time on the Labor Force Participation and Earnings of Disability Applicants," Working Papers 1070, RAND Corporation.
- 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.
- David Stapleton & David Wittenburg, 2011. "The SSDI Trust Fund New Solutions to an Old Problem," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 4fb2e48e6e404cb095ca9eae3, Mathematica Policy Research. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17697. 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: ()
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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.