Disability Insurance and the Great Recession

Published in: American Economic Review, v. 105, no. 5, May 2015, p. 177-182

Posted on RAND.org on June 19, 2015

by Nicole Maestas, Kathleen J. Mullen, Alexander Strand

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The US Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is designed to provide income support to workers who become unable to work because of a severe, long-lasting disability. In this study, we use administrative data to estimate the effect of labor market conditions, as measured by the unemployment rate, on the number of SSDI applications, the number and composition of initial allowances and denials, and the timing of applications relative to disability onset. We analyze the period of the Great Recession, and compare this period with business cycle effects over the past two decades, from 1992 through 2012.

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