Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



In order to understand whom among the non-disabled older population experiences a health problem later in life and applies for Social Security Disability Insurance (DI), it is necessary to investigate patterns of coverage and reasons for non-coverage. While the safety net program covers most American workers, we use linked data from the Health and Retirement Study to show that a substantial group of older women, blacks, and less educated persons is not covered. Almost two-thirds of those who report having a work-limiting disability are not DI insured in later life. In this sense, the program is not helpful to many workers reaching their late 50’s and early 60’s with health-related problems.


Retirement and Retirement Policies; Social Security and Public Pensions; Disability

JEL Code

J26, H55, I12

Working Paper Number


Copyright/Permission Statement

©2001 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All Rights Reserved.


The research reported herein was performed pursuant to a grant from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA), to the Wharton School via the Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC). Opinions and conclusions are solely those of the authors and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policy of the SSA, any agency of the Federal Government, the MRRC, or any other group with which the authors are affiliated. Helpful comments were provided by John Laitner. This research is part of the NBER programs on Aging and Labor Economics.

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Economics Commons



Date Posted: 13 September 2019