Tracking the Household Income of SSDI and SSI Applicants



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.


This MRRC working paper was subsequently published as:

Bound, John; Burkhauser, Richard V.; and Nichols, Austin. “Tracking the
Household Income of SSDI and SSI Applicants.”  In Sol W. Polachek (ed.),
Research in Labor Economics 22, (2003): 113-159.

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Paper ID

WP 2001-009

Publication Type

Working Paper

Publication Year