Research and Analysis by Emily Roessel

Social Security Disability Insurance at Age 60: Does It Still Reflect Congress' Original Intent?
Issue Paper No. 2015-01 (released September 2015)
by Paul O'Leary, Elisa Walker, and Emily Roessel

Congress established the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program in 1956, after more than 20 years of debate. From the outset of the debate, however, there had been general agreement that the DI program should be for workers with substantial work histories, be funded through payroll taxes, include stringent disability criteria, provide modest benefit levels, and require return-to-work supports. Using administrative data on current DI beneficiaries, this issue paper examines how the program reflects those original tenets as it nears its 60th anniversary.