NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing

Mikhail Golosov, Aleh Tsyvinski

NBER Working Paper No. 10792
Issued in September 2004
NBER Program(s):   PE

The paper analyzes an implementation of an optimal disability insurance system as a competitive equilibrium with taxes. The problem is modeled as a dynamic mechanism design problem in which disability is unobservable. We show that an asset-tested disability system in which a disability transfer is paid only if an agent has assets below a specified maximum implements the optimum. The logic behind the result is as follows: we show that an agent who falsely claims disability has higher savings than a truly disabled agent, and an asset test prevents false claimants from receiving disability. We also evaluate welfare benefits of asset testing. For a calibrated economy, we numerically compare the optimal system to the best system without asset testing. We find that gains of asset testing are significant and equal to about 0.65% of consumption.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10792

Published: Golosov, Mikhail and Aleh Tsyvinski. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case For Asset Testing," Journal of Political Economy, 2006, v114(2,Apr), 257-279.

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