Young Social Security Disability Awardees: Who They Are and What They Do After Award

Publisher: Social Security Bulletin, vol. 75, no. 3
Jul 30, 2015
Yonatan Ben-Shalom and David C. Stapleton

Using Social Security administrative data, we compare the cross-cohort characteristics and 5-year employment outcomes of young adults (aged 18–39) who were first awarded Social Security disability benefits from 1996 through 2007. We examine two beneficiary types—disabled workers and the disabled adult children (DACs) of living or deceased disabled- or retired-worker beneficiaries—as well as preaward Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program participation status. In comparing 2007 with 1996, we find growth in the proportions of awardees who (1) were DACs, (2) had received SSI payments (especially as children), and (3) had psychiatric disorders. We also find that disabled workers who received SSI payments as children were more likely than those who did not to reach certain postaward earnings thresholds and that DACs were less likely than disabled workers to reach those thresholds. We also discuss potential contributing factors.