Workplace Injuries and Receipt of Benefits from Workers Compensation and SSDI*

Published: 2021


We use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and matched Social Security Administration (SSA) data to study two questions. First, we examine evidence on whether workers who suffer permanently disabling injuries covered by workers’ compensation (WC) subsequently end up on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Second, under some conditions, SSDI benefits are supposed to be reduced for workers receiving WC benefits (“offsets”). Offsets are most relevant for workers with WC-compensable, permanently disabling injuries. Our analysis captures data on WC benefit receipt from the HRS and links it to SSA data on WC and SSDI recipients. We find that SSA appears to be missing data on WC benefits for a sizable share of WC-benefit recipients, and that the frequency of SSDI benefit reduction because of the WC offset seems surprisingly low.

Key Findings