Employment, Earnings, and Primary Impairments Among Beneficiaries of Social Security Disability Programs (Journal Article)
Empirical evidence on the relationship between the primary impairments of Social Security disability program beneficiaries and the employment and earnings experiences of those beneficiaries is limited. To provide such evidence, we classify recent Disability Insurance beneficiaries and working-age Supplemental Security Income recipients according to 25 detailed primary-impairment categories and examine their employment and earnings patterns using 2011 data from linked Social Security administrative files. We find substantial heterogeneity in employment and earnings across primary impairments. We also find that if we restrict our sample to beneficiaries with earnings (and then further restrict it to those with earnings above the substantial gainful activity level), some impairment categories that are strongly associated with employment status are not as strongly associated with higher earnings. These findings can inform new initiatives designed to help beneficiaries return to work or successfully transition into the adult workforce.