Many past studies have explored the “moral hazard” effects of Social Security disability programs on employment and income. Comparatively little research has analyzed the benefits of the DI and SSI programs, including benefits from consumption, health, and wellbeing. In this project, we aim to fill that gap by estimating the effect of DI and SSI on measures of financial distress and the mechanisms through which these effects operate. The project will provide a more comprehensive assessment of the benefits and costs of the DI and SSI programs.
In our 2018 DRC project “The Effect of SSI on Household Credit Access and Use,” we merged public bankruptcy records and housing records to administrative SSA records, provided descriptive evidence on the relationship between these programs and financial outcomes, and explored research designs to estimate a causal effect of these programs on such financial outcomes. In the proposed 2019 project, we will merge in eviction records as another measure of financial distress, estimate the causal effect of disability programs on financial outcomes using a credible empirical strategy, and use credit bureau records (data use agreement pending) to understand the mechanisms through which the effect operates. Specifically, we will:
• Use public-use eviction records to study outcomes in SSA administrative data
• Use a causal research design to estimate the effect of disability programs on financial distress and financial outcomes, including heterogeneity across subgroups
• Use credit bureau data to study the mechanisms through which DI and SSI affect financial outcomes