Research and Analysis by Jackson Costa
Social Security administrative data show that the earnings of individuals who apply for Disability Insurance benefits decline rapidly in the years prior to application. This article presents statistics on the average “decline period”—the time from the year of maximum earnings to the year of application—by general and specific primary diagnosis, sex, and age for individuals who filed applications during 2004–2013. The analysis compares decline periods for applicants whose claims were allowed with those for applicants whose claims were denied. Understanding decline-period variations may enable policymakers and service providers to target and customize preapplication support services to specific population subgroups.