(UM99-03) - Tracking the Income of Individuals Applying for Disability Insurance
John Bound and Richard V. Burkhauser
Using panel data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation linked to Social Security Administration disability determination records we trace the pattern of household income and the sources of that income from 38 months prior to 39 months following application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI). We find that the average applicant’s labor earnings declines dramatically beginning six month before application but the average applicant’s household income drops much less dramatically both in the months just before or just after application and over the next three years, and does so even for those denied benefits. However, we also found substantial heterogeneity in household income outcomes in both the SSDI and SSI applicant population. Our quantile regressions suggest that higher income households experience greater percentage declines in their post-application income. Such results are consistent with the lower replacement rate for higher earners established in the SSDI program and the low absolute level of protection provided to all SSI applicants regardless of income prior to application.