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Moral Hazard and Claims Deterrence in Private Disability Insurance

  • David Autor
  • Mark Duggan
  • Jonathan Gruber

We provide a detailed analysis of the incidence, duration and determinants of claims made on private Long Term Disability (LTD) policies using a database of approximately 10,000 policies and 1 million workers from a major LTD insurer. We document that LTD claims rates are much lower than claims rates on the public analogue to LTD, the Social Security Disability Insurance program, yet LTD policies have a much higher return-to-work rate among initial claimants. Nevertheless, our analysis indicates that the impact of moral hazard on LTD claims is substantial. Using within firm, over time variation in plan parameters, we find that a higher replacement rate and a shorter waiting time to benefits receipt--also known as the Elimination Period or EP--significantly increase the likelihood that workers claim LTD. About sixty percent of the effect of a longer EP is due to censoring of shorter claims, while the remainder is due to deterrence: workers facing a longer EP are less likely to claim benefits for impairments that would lead to a only a brief period of LTD receipt. This deterrence effect is equally large among high and low-income workers, suggesting that moral hazard rather than liquidity underlies the behavioral response. Consistent with this interpretation, the response of LTD claims to plan parameters is driven primarily by the behavior of the healthiest disabled, those who would return to work after receiving LTD.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18172.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Publication status: published as David Autor & Mark Duggan & Jonathan Gruber, 2014. "Moral Hazard and Claims Deterrence in Private Disability Insurance," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 110-41, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18172
Note: AG HE LS PE
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  1. Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen & Alexander Strand, 2013. "Does Disability Insurance Receipt Discourage Work? Using Examiner Assignment to Estimate Causal Effects of SSDI Receipt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1797-1829, August.
  2. David Autor & Mark Duggan, 2006. "The Growth in the Social Security Disability Rolls: A Fiscal Crisis Unfolding," NBER Working Papers 12436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John Bound, 1989. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants," NBER Working Papers 2816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hahn, Jinyong, 2001. "Comment: Binary Regressors in Nonlinear Panel-Data Models with Fixed Effects," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(1), pages 16-17, January.
  5. Jonathan Gruber, 1996. "Disability Insurance Benefits and Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 5866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Angrist, Joshua D, 2001. "Estimations of Limited Dependent Variable Models with Dummy Endogenous Regressors: Simple Strategies for Empirical Practice: Reply," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(1), pages 27-28, January.
  7. Joshua D. Angrist, 2000. "Estimation of Limited-Dependent Variable Models with Dummy Endogenous Regressors: Simple Strategies for Empirical Practice," NBER Technical Working Papers 0248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Raj Chetty, 2008. "Moral Hazard versus Liquidity and Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(2), pages 173-234, 04.
  9. Aviva Aron-Dine & Liran Einav & Amy Finkelstein & Mark Cullen, 2012. "Moral hazard in health insurance: How important is forward looking behavior?," Discussion Papers 11-007, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  10. Parsons, Donald O, 1991. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1419-26, December.
  11. Bruce D. Meyer & Wallace K.C. Mok, 2013. "Disability, Earnings, Income and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 18869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Eric French & Jae Song, 2009. "The effect of disability insurance receipt on labor supply," Working Paper Series WP-09-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  13. Helen Levy, 2004. "Employer-Sponsored Disability Insurance: Where are the Gaps in Coverage?," NBER Working Papers 10382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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 3308-29, December.
  15. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2003. "The Rise In The Disability Rolls And The Decline In Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 157-205, February.
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