Research & Analysis by John R. Kearney
Social Security and the "D" in OASDI: The History of a Federal Program Insuring Earners Against Disability
This article explores the efforts of Social Security planners to establish a disability program in the United States and the history of the program over the past 50 years. It describes how the program has evolved and the internal and external influences that have affected its development.
The International Social Security Association recently completed a six-nation comparative study of work incapacity and reintegration that focused on workers with back disorders. This article discusses the findings of the U.S. national study and discusses their policy implications.
The Work Incapacity and Reintegration Study: Results of the Initial Survey Conducted in the United States
The United States and six other countries (Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Israel, and the Netherlands) are participating in a cross-national study of work incapacity and reintegration under the auspices of the International Social Security Administration. The purpose of the study is to identify those medical and nonmedical interventions that are most successful in helping persons disabled due to a back condition return to work. The study involves a baseline survey and two follow-up surveys over approximately 2 years.
This article reports on the findings from the baseline survey conducted in the United States. It compares the responses of persons from four study groups (the Social Security Administration's Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients, and temporary disability insurance (TDI) recipients from two States—California and New Jersey). The article discusses the potential influence of certain characteristics on the capacity for work reintegration. Study findings suggest that the characteristics of TDI recipients with back disorders may differ in some respects from those of recently entitled DI or SSI beneficiaries with similar impairments, and that there may be some correlation between work resumption and factors such as education, occupation, work-related demands, and the presence of other chronic diseases.
It is becoming increasing difficult worldwide for the aged to sustain a minimum level of income protection into retirement. Rapidly aging populations and lower fertility rates are creating serious fiscal strains on current social insurance systems. A report issued by the World Bank maintains that countries whose primary mechanism for providing old-age income protection is a publicly managed social insurance system will experience significant difficulties unless they make structural changes in their programs. Actuarial estimates indicate that benefit payments in the United States could in fact exceed income to the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund by 2029 and a variety of proposals to address this problem are being advanced. We suggest a framework to evaluate such proposals based on a set of core values (fairness, adequacy, and efficiency) and analyze some of the proposed changes both in relation to how they have been employed in other countries and within the context of the framework. The purpose of this article is to inform and help structure a most important debate.
This is the second of two articles on the effects of Old-Age Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments on the poverty status of children. Based primarily on a data file from the 1990 SIPP matched with Social Security Administration (SSA) administrative records, the principal findings in the article are that: (1) the families of children who were entitled to survivors benefits, and in particular those families in which the surviving parent was remarried, were much less likely to have income below the poverty threshold than other families with children who received OASDI benefits; (2) families with a child eligible for SSI payments, and headed by a single adult, received considerably less income from earnings, and had less income overall, than other families with children that received SSI payments; and (3) the primary reason that some families who received OASDI and SSI benefits remained in poverty was the absence of any employed family member.