Research and Analysis by Jae G. Song
How Common is "Parking" among Social Security Disability Insurance Beneficiaries? Evidence from the 1999 Change in the Earnings Level of Substantial Gainful Activity
The authors explore the extent to which Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries restrain their earnings below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level in order to maintain their cash benefits. The extent of "parking" is measured by exploiting the 1999 change in the nonblind SGA earnings level from $500 to $700 and assessing its effect on cohorts of DI beneficiaries who completed their trial work period, one of which was affected by the SGA change, and one that was not.
Data from administrative records of the Social Security Administration allow us to examine patterns of initial entitlement to Old-Age Insurance benefits as well as Disability Insurance benefits. We follow cohorts born in different years over their lifetimes to identify changes in entitlements by age over time. Breaking out single birth cohorts shows close adherence in entitlement ages to rule changes as well as increasing shares of cohorts relying on the Disability Insurance program in middle age.
This article discusses the advantages and limitations of using administrative data for research, examines how linking administrative data to survey results can be used to evaluate and improve survey design, and discusses research studies and SSA statistical products and services that are based on administrative data.
Using a 1 percent sample of Social Security Administration data, this article documents and analyzes responses in the entitlement age for old-age benefits following the recent changes in Social Security rules. Both rules, the removal of the retirement earnings test (RET) for persons who are at the full retirement age (FRA) through age 69 in 2000 or later and a gradual increase in the FRA for those who reach age 62 in 2000 or later, are expected to affect the age at which people claim Social Security retirement benefits (or entitlement age) and the work behavior of older Americans.
This article explores how individuals affected by the removal of the earnings test have changed their participation in the workforce and the amount that they earn. It also looks at changes in benefit claiming among those who have reached the full retirement age. Results are based on longitudinal data from the Social Security Administration that cover the 4 years before and after the change.
New Evidence on Earnings and Benefit Claims Following Changes in the Retirement Earnings Test in 2000
In April 2000, Congress enacted the Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act of 2000, which removed the retirement earnings test for individuals at the full retirement age and older. This paper examines the labor force activity of workers aged 65–69 relative to older and younger workers in response to the removal of the earnings test. We use the 1 percent sample of Social Security administrative data that covers the period from 4 years before to 4 years following the removal of the test. Quantile regression methods allow us to identify the earnings levels of workers who change their work effort.
This paper analyzes the predisability earnings of Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) applicants using yearly pools of applicants from 1977 through 1997 constructed from SSA program data that are matched to multiple panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). Results of this study show that the predisability earnings of workers denied DI benefits are significantly lower, by $4,518 per year, than the earnings of those allowed and that the influx of workers with low predisability earnings coincides with the recent rapid growth in applications for DI benefits. Average predisability earnings are the highest for applicants during 1981–1983 (when benefit eligibility was tightened) and are the lowest for applicants during the 1990–1994 period, which included the 1990–1991 recession.
How did workers aged 65–69 respond to the removal of the retirement earnings test in 2000? Using Social Security administrative data matched with data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, the author finds that the higher earners in this group increased their earnings, while the lower earners did not. The author reports an acceleration of benefit applications by workers aged 65–69 but no clear evidence of increased employment in this age group.