Research & Analysis by David C. Stapleton
This article summarizes findings from selected research conducted under the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) Disability Research Consortium (DRC) at the Mathematica Center for Studying Disability Policy. Mathematica researchers, often in collaboration with SSA and other research institutions, have conducted studies addressing five broad topic areas. Those topics are Social Security Disability Insurance applicants and their potential ability to remain in the labor force; factors affecting participation in the federal disability programs; the characteristics, well-being, and employment of disability program participants; special populations of people with disabilities; and access to health insurance for people with disabilities. The studies highlight how the DRC has supported a broad range of rigorous, policy-relevant research and made important contributions to the body of knowledge on those topics.
Changes to the Ticket to Work Regulations in 2008 Attracted Providers and Participants, but Impacts on Work and Benefits Are Unclear
In this article, the authors use administrative data from the Social Security Administration to explore employment service provider and beneficiary participation in the Ticket to Work program over time and to assess the extent to which participants had earnings sufficient to have their cash benefits suspended or terminated for work. The authors focus on the effects of 2008 regulatory changes to the program on participation and participant earnings.
A significant share of individuals who are first awarded Social Security benefits because of a disability is aged younger than 40. Using administrative data on young adults aged 18–39 who were first awarded benefits from 1996 through 2007, the authors produce descriptive statistics on beneficiary characteristics at award, prior Supplemental Security Income program participation status, and 5-year employment outcomes. The authors track cross-cohort changes over the study period and examine potential contributing factors.
Long-Term Work Activity and Use of Employment Supports Among New Supplemental Security Income Recipients
Long-term cumulative statistics on the employment activities of Supplemental Security Income recipients offer a different perspective than the Social Security Administration's published statistics, which are based on monthly or annual data, and have important policy implications.
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.
This article introduces and highlights the key findings of the other articles presented in this special issue, which focuses on the employment of beneficiaries in the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs.
Longitudinal Statistics on Work Activity and Use of Employment Supports for New Social Security Disability Insurance Beneficiaries
Longitudinal statistics on the employment activities of Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries offer a different perspective than the Social Security Administration's published statistics, which are based on annual data, and have important policy implications.
The authors use longitudinal Social Security administrative data to produce statistics on the number of Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)-only beneficiaries whose cash benefits were first suspended or terminated because of work and on the number of months thereafter that those beneficiaries remained in nonpayment status before their return to the program rolls, attainment of the full retirement age, or death—for each year from 2002 through 2006. We also explore differences by program title (DI versus SSI-only) and by participation in the Ticket to Work program. Finally, we examine outcome payments made on behalf of Ticket to Work participants in months of nonpayment status following suspension or termination because of work.
This article examines the interaction between the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) programs in the period before welfare reform (1990 to 1996). It also discusses the potential impact of welfare reform on the interaction between SSI and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which replaced AFDC.
How Raising the Age of Eligibility for Social Security and Medicare Might Affect the Disability Insurance and Medicare Program
This article considers two hypothetical scenarios—one in which the Medicare eligibility age is raised to 67 along with the scheduled increase in the normal retirement age, and one in which eligibility for both programs is raised to age 70. It then projects the effects that each of those changes would have on Social Security Disability Insurance participation, Medicare participation, and Medicare expenditures.
This article examines factors affecting the growth in the Social Security Administration's disability programs. We synthesize recent empirical evidence on factors affecting trends in applications and awards for Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and duration on the rolls. Econometric analyses of pooled time-series, cross-sectional data for States provide strong evidence of business cycle effects on applications and, to a lesser extent, on awards. Substantial effects of cutbacks in State general assistance programs are also found, especially for SSI. Estimated effects of the aging of the baby boomers, growth in the share of women who are disability insured, the AIDS epidemic, and changes in family structure are also presented. Indirect evidence suggests the importance of programmatic factors, especially for awards, and especially in the mental and musculoskeletal impairment categories. The decline in the average age of new awardees has substantially increased duration, particularly for SSI. As a result, caseload growth would be expected to continue even in the absence of future award growth.