Panel: The Impact of Safety Net Programs on the Benefit Receipt and Labor Supply Decisions of Individuals with Disabilities and Their Families
(Poverty and Income Policy)

Friday, November 8, 2019: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Court 2 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Cassandra Benson, U.S. Air Force Academy
Panel Chair:  Chloe East, University of Colorado, Denver
Discussants:  Matthew S. Rutledge, Boston College and Amal Harrati, Stanford University

In 2018, just under 2 million children and working-age adults applied to disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration. Both of these programs--Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)—provide material support and health insurance coverage to individuals with disabilities. Previous research has shown that many factors affect an individual’s decision to apply for disability insurance, these include: economic conditions (Autor and Duggan, 2003), inconvenience of applying (Deshpande and Li, 2018), and public health insurance (Levere et al., 2019; Anand et al. 2019; Burns and Dague, 2017; Chatterji and Li, 2018). This panel presents three papers that investigate how aspects of the federal social safety net affect applications and awards for disability programs and one paper that examines how the social safety net affects the family’s labor supply response to the onset of adult disability. Interactions among government programs are an important area of current research because these interactions may create synergies or inefficiencies affecting the program’s stated goals.


Benson considers how the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)—a large cash transfer to many families--may affect the likelihood that a child receives SSI payments. Her project examines the dynamic impact of the EITC during a child’s life. Noting that student debt burdens have markedly increased in the past few decades and the ability to discharge this debt through acceptance onto SSDI or SSI represents a substantial incentive to apply for these programs, Armour and Zaber consider the role of student loan discharge policies on applications for SSDI/SSI. The final two papers utilize variation from public health insurance expansions to examine how publicly provided health insurance affects applications and awards for SSDI. Schimmel Hyde, Anand and O’Leary examine how awards for disability program benefits changed in response to Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansions in 2014. This project addresses an important question as states consider Medicaid work requirements and other policies limiting access to Medicaid. Finally, Anand, Dague, and Wagner explores the impact of disability onset on spousal labor supply decisions and the role of health insurance in making these decisions. They further consider the effect of Medicaid expansions on labor supply and caregiving decisions. These papers are tied together through their examination of how large social safety net programs influence the benefit receipt and labor supply decisions of individuals with disabilities and their families.

Spousal Labor Supply Responses to a Health Shock
Priyanka Anand, George Mason University, Laura Dague, Texas A&M University and Kathryn Wagner, Marquette University

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