Consequences of Eliminating Federal Disability Benefits for Substance Abusers

Pinka Chatterji, Ellen Meara

NBER Working Paper No. 13407
Issued in September 2007
NBER Program(s):   HC   HE

Using annual, repeated cross-sections from national household survey data, we estimate how the January 1997 termination of federal disability insurance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance (DI), for those with Drug Addiction and Alcoholism affected labor market outcomes among individuals targeted by the legislation. We also examine whether the policy change affected health insurance, health care utilization, and arrests. We employ propensity score methods to address differences in observed characteristics between substance users and others, and we used a difference-in-difference-in-difference approach to mitigate potential omitted variables bias. In the short-run (1997-1999), declines in SSI receipt accompanied appreciable increases in labor force participation and current employment. There was little measurable effect of the policy change on insurance and utilization, but we have limited power to detect effects on these outcomes. In the long-run (1999-2002), the rate of SSI receipt returned to earlier levels, and short-run gains in labor market outcomes waned.

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This paper was revised on October 6, 2008

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13407

Published: Chatterji, Pinka & Meara, Ellen, 2010. "Consequences of eliminating federal disability benefits for substance abusers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 226-240, March. citation courtesy of

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