Workplace Injuries and the Take-Up of Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 3, pp. 1-17, 2012

17 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2012 Last revised: 25 Apr 2015

See all articles by Paul O'Leary

Paul O'Leary

Government of the United States of America - Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support

Leslie I. Boden

Boston University - Department of Environmental Health

Seth A. Seabury

University of Southern California - Keck School of Medicine; University of Southern California - Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics

Al Ozonoff

Boston Children's Hospital

Ethan Scherer

RAND Corporation

Date Written: August 1, 2012

Abstract

Workplace injuries and illnesses are an important cause of disability. State workers' compensation programs provide almost $60 billion per year in cash and medical-care benefits for those injuries and illnesses. Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) is the largest disability insurance program in the United States, with annual cash payments to disabled workers of $95 billion in 2008. Because injured workers may also receive DI benefits, it is important to understand how those two systems interact to provide benefits. This article uses matched state workers' compensation and Social Security data to study the relationship between workplace injuries and illnesses and DI benefit receipt. We find that having a lost-time injury substantially increases the probability of DI receipt, and, for people who become DI beneficiaries, those with injuries receive DI benefits at younger ages. This relationship remains robust even after we account for important personal and work characteristics.

Keywords: Economics of Disability, Accident, Disability, Disabled, Industrial Health, Injury, Occupational Safety, OSHA, Safety, Workers’ Compensation, Social Security, Social Security Disability Insurance, Workplace Safety, Externalities, Recovery, Rehabilitation

JEL Classification: D62, H55, I12, J14, J28

Suggested Citation

O'Leary, Paul and Boden, Leslie I. and Seabury, Seth A. and Ozonoff, Al and Scherer, Ethan, Workplace Injuries and the Take-Up of Social Security Disability Benefits (August 1, 2012). Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 3, pp. 1-17, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2122056

Paul O'Leary (Contact Author)

Government of the United States of America - Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support ( email )

United States

Leslie I. Boden

Boston University - Department of Environmental Health ( email )

715 Albany Street
Boston, MA 02118
United States

Seth A. Seabury

University of Southern California - Keck School of Medicine ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

University of Southern California - Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3333
United States

Al Ozonoff

Boston Children's Hospital ( email )

300 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Ethan Scherer

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

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