Work Ability and the Social Insurance Safety Net in the Years Prior to Retirement

TitleWork Ability and the Social Insurance Safety Net in the Years Prior to Retirement
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsJohnson, RW, Favreault, M, Mommaerts, CD
InstitutionThe Urban Institute
KeywordsDisabilities, Employment and Labor Force, Public Policy, Social Security

A patchwork of public programs primarily Social Security Disability Insurance, workers compensation, Supplemental Security Income, and veterans benefits provides income supports to people who are unable to work. Yet, questions persist about the effectiveness of these programs. This report examines the economic consequences of disability in the years leading to retirement. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, the analysis follows a sample of Americans age 51 to 55 in 1992 and computes their disability status, disability benefit receipt, and income until age 64, just before they qualify for full Social Security retirement benefits. The results underscore the precarious financial state of most people approaching traditional retirement age with disabilities. Fewer than half of people who meet our disability criteria ever receive disability benefits in their fifties or early sixties. Poverty rates for those who do are more than three times as high after benefit receipt than before disability onset.

Endnote Keywords

social Security Disability Insurance/Public Policy/DISABILITY/DISABILITY/workers compensation/workers compensation/Supplemental Security Income/labor Force Participation

Endnote ID


Citation Key5823