Measuring the Spillover to Disability Insurance Due to the Rise in the Full Retirement Age

Norma B. Coe Kelly Haverstick

WP#2010-21

Abstract

The increase in the full retirement age in the Social Security program provides exogenous variation in the generosity in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, based only on birth year. We exploit this variation to estimate how responsive SSDI applications are to the financial incentive to apply. We find that a 1-percentage-point decrease in the retirement-to-disability benefit ratio leads to a 0.25-percentage-point increase in the SSDI application rate for the sample, which represents an 8-percent increase in applications per two years. When weighted to account for sampling design, we estimate that this change in the financial incentive accounted for about 5 percent of the SSDI applications in 2009. However, we do not find a corresponding increase in SSDI receipt based on the financial incentives…