Panel: The Role of Employment Policies, Incentives and Outcomes in Explaining Social Security Disability Insurance Trends
(Poverty and Income Policy)

Saturday, November 10, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
8223 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Yonatan Ben-Shalom, Mathematica Policy Research
Discussants:  Purvi Sevak, Mathematica Policy Research and Philip Armour, Pardee RAND Graduate School

Absenteeism and Presenteeism Among American Workers
Kathleen J. Mullen, RAND Corporation

The Effects of Firm Incentives in Disability Insurance on Employment
Amelia Hawkins, University of Michigan and Salla Simola, Aalto University

Declining employment rates of individuals with disabilities and the increasing number of working-aged adults claiming Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) have contributed to recent proposals for changes to SSDI in the United States. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in identifying interventions to promote employment for the more than 10 million working-age individuals with disabilities who receive cash benefits from the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability programs. Moreover, scholarly attention is beginning to focus on employment trajectories and employer incentives prior to application and receipt of disability insurance.  


This panel presents research that explores how trends in SSDI are impacted by and interact with employment policies, incentives and outcomes. The collection of papers focus both on dynamics during employment, as well as the impact of actual or potential policy changes.  Maestas, Mullen and Rennane explore whether enrollment on disability can be predicted by health-related absenteeism in employment years. Harrati and Cullen describe how long-term employment trajectories are related to application and receipt of SSDI. Hock and Mann examine how the federal-state Vocational Rehabilitation program affects the employment, earnings, Supplemental Security Income payment receipt, and Social Security Disability Insurance benefit receipt of VR applicants. Hawkins uses data from Finland to infer the impact of potential changes to employer incentives for disability in the United States.


The discussants underscore the importance of considering employment incentives and context both before and after disability in approaching questions understanding trends in and programmatic effects of SSDI, SSI and other federal and state policies. The papers also demonstrate the rich array of administrative and survey data available to study questions related to disability policy.

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