Research & Analysis by Richard V. Burkhauser
Social Security Research at the Michigan Retirement Research Center
The Office of Retirement and Disability Policy at the Social Security Administration created the Retirement Research Consortium in 1998 to encourage research on topics related to Social Security and the well-being of older Americans, and to foster communication between the academic and policy communities. The Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC) has participated in the Consortium since its inception. This article surveys a selection of the MRRC's output over its first 10 years and highlights several themes in the Center's ongoing research.
How Post Secondary Education Improves Adult Outcomes for Supplemental Security Income Children with Severe Hearing Impairments
This article uses a unique longitudinal dataset based on administrative data from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) linked to Social Security Administration (SSA) microdata to conduct a case study of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) children who applied for postsecondary education at NTID. The authors estimate the likelihood that SSI children who apply to NTID will eventually graduate relative to other hearing impaired applicants, as well as the influence of graduation from NTID on participation in the SSI program as adults and later success in the labor market. Findings indicate that SSI children are substantially less likely to graduate from NTID than their fellow deaf students who did not participate in the SSI program as children, but that those who do graduate spend less time in the SSI adult program and have higher age-earnings profiles than those who do not graduate.
How Policy Variables Influence the Timing of Applications for Social Security Disability Insurance
The onset of a work-limiting health condition may lead workers to reevaluate their lifetime work path. This article analyzes the impact of policy variables—employer accommodations, state Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) acceptance rates, and DI benefits—on the timing of DI applications for such workers.
Life-Cycle Welfare Costs of Social Security
One-period models predict that a substantial welfare gain would result from removing the Social Security earnings test. In this paper we show that such models overestimate the size of potential gains.
If one uses instead a two-period model, which captures intertemporal effects, the net result of removing the earnings test is ambiguous. In the presence of a personal income tax, workers who reduce their labor supply in the first period create a welfare loss that must also be considered. We use a present-value model to estimate the change in lifetime welfare. We find that the net potential gain from removing the earnings test is probably small, especially when compared with the alternative of an increased personal income tax.