Disability Benefit Growth and Disability Reform in the U.S.: Lessons from Other OECD Nations
Unsustainable growth in program costs and beneficiaries, together with a growing recognition that even people with severe impairments can work, led to fundamental disability policy reforms in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Great Britain. In Australia, rapid growth in disability recipiency led to more modest reforms. Here we describe the factors driving unsustainable DI program growth in the U.S., show their similarity to the factors that led to unsustainable growth in these other four OECD countries, and discuss the reforms each country implemented to regain control over their cash transfer ...
Recent declines in work and income among men with disabilities
The changing role of disabled children benefits
The U.S. federal government?s program that provides cash benefits to low-income families with a disabled child has grown rapidly over the past 25 years. This growth reflects changes in the implementation of the program rather than declines in children?s health or family income. Unfortunately, most disabled children from families that receive such benefits do not become employed when they grow up, so these policy changes may relegate these children to lifetime government support?probably near the poverty threshold?at the expense of taxpayers.
The employment of working-age people with disabilities in the 1980s and 1990s: what current data can and cannot tell us
A new and highly controversial literature argues that the employment of working-age people with disabilities fell dramatically relative to the rest of the working-age population in the 1990s. Some dismiss these results as fundamentally flawed because they come from a self-reported work limitation-based disability population that captures neither the actual population with disabilities nor its employment trends. In this paper, we examine the merits of these criticisms. We first consider some of the difficulties of defining and consistently measuring the population with disabilities. We then ...
Left behind: SSI in the era of welfare reform
SSI was established in 1972, born out of a compromise at the time between those wanting to provide a guaranteed income floor and those wishing to limit it to individuals not expected to work: the aged, blind, and disabled. SSI is now the largest federal means-tested program in the United States, serving a population dominated by low-income adults and children with disabilities. With other forms of federal support devolving to state programs (e.g., welfare), policymakers pressing to redefine social expectations about who should and should not work, and the Americans with Disabilities Act ...
United States disability policy in a changing environment
Two factors are likely to cause the debate surrounding disability policy to intensify over the next decade. First, the protracted period of economic growth that the United States has experienced since 1992 cannot last forever. And, applications for DI and SSI are sensitive to the business cycle. A downturn in the economy will increase applications and heighten efforts to broaden the categorical definition of disability. This is even more likely since the welfare reforms of 1996 have made it more difficult for low-income people to be eligible for other programs. Second, the percentage of the ...
Evaluating the Success of President Johnson's War on Poverty: Revisiting the Historical Record Using a Full-Income Poverty Measure
We evaluate progress in President's Johnson's War on Poverty. We do so relative to the scientifically arbitrary but policy relevant 20 percent baseline poverty rate he established for 1963. No existing poverty measure fully captures poverty reductions based on the standard that President Johnson set. To fill this gap, we develop a Full-income Poverty Measure with thresholds set to match the 1963 Official Poverty Rate. We include cash income, taxes, and major in-kind transfers and update poverty thresholds for inflation annually. While the Official Poverty Rate fell from 19.5 percent in 1963 ...
Economic outcomes of working-age people with disabilities over the business cycle: an examination of the 1980s and 1990s
We examine the rate of employment and the household income of the working-age population (aged 25-61) with and without disabilities over the business cycles of the 1980s and 1990s using data from the March Current Population Survey and the National Health Interview Survey. In general, we find that while the employment of working-age men and women with and without disabilities exhibited a procyclical trend during the 1980s business cycle, this was not the case during the 1990s expansion. During the 1990s, the employment of working-age men and women without disabilities continued to be ...
The timing of disability insurance application: a choice-based semiparametric hazard model
We use a choice-based subsample of Social Security Disability Insurance applicants from the 1978 Social Security Survey of Disability and Work to test the importance of policy variables on the timing of application for disability insurance benefits following the onset of a work limiting health condition. We correct for choice-based sampling by extending the Manski-Lerman (1977) correction to the likelihood function of our continuous time hazard model defined with semiparametric unmeasured heterogeneity and find that this correction significantly affects the results. We find that economic ...
Disability and work: the experiences of American and German men
This paper compares the economic well-being of men with disabilities in the United States and Germany. The results indicate that while the prevalence of disability is similar, the social institutions developed in the two countries result in quite different patterns of employment, transfer receipt, and economic well-being among the population with disabilities. However, while work is more important among German men with disabilities, it also is a very important component of the economic well-being of American men with disabilities. Furthermore, at least initially, a significant fraction of men ...