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Trends in the Composition and Outcomes of Young Social Security Disability Awardees (Ben-Shalom et al. 2013)

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Ben-Shalom, Yonatan, and Stapleton, David. (2013). Trends in the Composition and Outcomes of Young Social Security Disability Awardees. Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC) working paper, WP 2013-284. Retrieved from


  • A large share of new Social Security Disability (SSD) recipients—workers with disabilities and adult children with disabilities—are younger than 40. Better information on the backgrounds, impairments, personal characteristics, and employment outcomes of these recipients would help policymakers develop programs tailored to the needs and circumstances of various subgroups of such recipients.
  • This study used administrative data on young SSD awardees first awarded benefits from 1996 to 2007 to examine trends in their composition and outcomes. Most of the data come from the 2009 version of the Disability Analysis File, a data file originally constructed to support analysis of the effects of the Ticket to Work program.
  • The study found that the composition of young SSD awardees changed substantially during this period. It also found that young awardees differed from older SSD awardees along many dimensions other than age.
  • The findings raised several important policy issues. Most important, policymakers have to consider other options for the support of youth and young adults with disabilities—options that do not discourage work while promoting dependence.

Reviewed by CLEAR

November 2014