Understanding the Local-Level Predictors of Disability Program Applications, Awards, and Beneficiary Work Activity
This paper examines factors that are associated with area-level benefit awards for Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as well as the work activity of DI and SSI beneficiaries. Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) cannot directly affect state policies or local economic conditions, there is value in understanding the extent to which these policies and conditions might correlate with application rates, benefit receipt, and beneficiary return-to-work rates.nWe conducted our analysis at the level of Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs), which are geographic units created by the U.S. Census for statistical purposes. PUMAs are within-state geographies that have a population of at least 100,000 people and are large enough to produce statistics on low-occurrence events such as beneficiary suspensions and terminations for work. We aggregated data from the Social Security Administration’s Disability Analysis File, the American Community Survey, and other national sources.nWe assess the variation across PUMAs in the rate of new benefit awards and beneficiary work outcomes in 2017. We also consider the association between area-level demographic, economic, health, and health services availability and those beneficiary outcomes from 2005 through 2017.