Changes in the Composition of Disability Insurance Applicants and Recipients in the Wake of the Coronavirus Epidemic
Despite concerns that the enormous economic and health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic would increase Social Security disability benefit claiming, applications dropped during the first nine months of the pandemic. This paper uses Social Security Administration data on new program applicants and current beneficiaries to characterize age and impairment changes among applicants in the post-COVID-19 period and trends in death rates among Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income recipients. In the post-COVID-19 period, program disability applicants were nearly half a year younger than usual and recipients experienced death rates that were 15% to 24% higher than earlier years. Neither differences in telework rates nor excess mortality appeared to explain these results. Additional research is necessary to track these patterns across additional pandemic variants.
- During the first nine months of the pandemic, applicants for Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income were younger than the typical program applicant on average.
- During the first nine months of the pandemic, mortality rates among Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, and concurrent benefit recipients increased relative to 2018/2019.
- Additional research is needed to determine whether these findings represent persistent changes or temporary trends related to delayed death reporting or benefit claiming during the pandemic.
Nicholas, Lauren Hersch. 2021. “Changes in the Composition of Disability Insurance Applicants and Recipients in the Wake of the Coronavirus Epidemic.” Ann Arbor, MI. University of Michigan Retirement and Disability Research Center (MRDRC) Working Paper; MRDRC WP 2021-460. https://mrdrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/papers/pdf/wp460.pdf
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- UM21-02: Geographic Variation in Disability Insurance Application and Awards in the Wake of the Coronavirus Epidemic
Paper IDWP 2021-460