Panel Paper: Trends In Longitudinal Statistics for Young Social Security Disability Awardees

Thursday, November 8, 2012 : 2:15 PM
Washington (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Yonatan Ben-Shalom and David Stapleton, Mathematica Policy Research

A large share of new Social Security Disability beneficiaries—Disabled Workers as well as Disabled Adult Children (DAC)—are under age 40. This was not always the case, however. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) was originally added to Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) in 1956 as an early retirement program for workers age 50 or older with medical conditions that prevented continuation of work. DAC eligibility was added in the same year. By 1965, the Social Security Act had been modified so that Disabled Workers of any age with as few as six quarters of covered employment could qualify.

There is great interest in developing policies that will help young adults with disabilities have more productive, fulfilling lives and rely less heavily on government support, yet much remains unknown about programmatic and employment outcomes under current policy. The medical, personal and environmental characteristics of awardees vary substantially and policies that serve some well might serve others poorly. Better information about the backgrounds, impairments, personal characteristics, and environments of young awardees and how those factors are related to employment success in later years would help policy makers develop programs tailored to the needs and circumstances of various subgroups.

Building on past work, we use administrative data on annual cohorts of Disabled Workers and Disabled Adult Children (DAC) who were ages 18 to 39 when first awarded benefits. We produce statistics on their characteristics, employment, earnings, time in non-payment status following suspension or termination for work, and mortality, for the period between 1996 and 2009. The analysis will include: an examination of trends in key outcomes separately for different subgroups of particular interest, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries who eventually earn enough to enter SSDI, other SSDI workers, and DAC; production of statistics for 11 successive annual award cohorts (1996 through 2006), following each through 2009; analysis of trends in their characteristics; and examination of variation across states.