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Study finds much different work histories for disability rejects, beneficiaries
Date:5/24/2011

period where health has improved and jobs have become less physically demanding suggests that the system is broken and in need of reform," Giertz said. "Without changes, the federal disability programs are on a fiscally unsustainable path. For some, disability may be becoming a transition to retirement.

"This 'early retirement option' will be more appealing to people with fewer or declining economic opportunities such as those in in industries experiencing a negative economic shock."

Applications to U.S. federal disability programs have grown considerably in recent decades. In 2005, more than 2.12 million people applied for benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance program, while the Supplemental Security Income program received nearly 1.1 million applications. For the former, that's more than five times the number of applications in 1960 and almost twice its 1990 levels.

For their analysis, the economists examined the behavior of respondents in the Health and Retirement Study who were linked to Social Security earnings records. That analysis also produced these findings:

  • Nearly 77 percent of applicants with less than a high-school diploma were eventually accepted, the highest rate of any education group.

  • Those ages 31 to 40 were the most likely to be accepted, at 86.5 percent, followed by ages 41 to 50, at 77.4 percent.

  • Accepted applicants were more likely to have heart, circulatory or blood conditions, but many of the other health conditions had similar acceptance rates.

"The direct fiscal stress resulting from the growth in federal disability benefits is exacerbated by the fact that disability beneficiaries become eligible for either Medicare or Medicaid, the two programs at the heart of the nation's long-term fiscal problems," Giertz said.


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Contact: Seth Giertz
sgiertz2@unl.edu
402-472-7932
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Source:Eurekalert

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