Essay Two: How Disability Discrimination Prohibitions and Other Policy Variables Affect the Timing of Social Security Disability Insurance Application:
While the onset of a disability will increase the likelihood that a worker will leave his or her job and apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) benefits, public policies can on average influence how quickly this occurs. Using retrospective data from the 1990 Panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation, this paper exploits state-level variation in legislation prohibiting disability discrimination prior to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of the 1990 (ADA) to test the timing of DI application on a sample of persons who were working at the time they experienced the onset of their work limitation.
Using hazard models, the paper finds that, other things equal, workers who lived in states with traditional anti-discrimination prohibitions delayed their application for DI benefits on average by about four years compared to such workers with no disability discrimination protection. Those workers who lived in states with such prohibitions plus a reasonable accommodation standard, like the ADA, delayed their application for DI benefits on average by about six years compared to such workers with no disability discrimination protection. But other policy variables also mattered. DI acceptance rates also vary by state and workers living in higher acceptance rate states applied more quickly for DI benefits. Increasing the likelihood of acceptance onto the DI program by 10 percent increases the speed of application by about 2 years.
To obtain a copy of the full paper, please contact Richard V. Burkhauser, PhD.