A More Work Focused Disability Program? Challenges and Options

Research Report

A More Work Focused Disability Program? Challenges and Options

Abstract

This paper presents options for incorporating a strong return-to-work focus in the disability eligibility requirements for the Social Security Administration's (SSA) disability programs. In developing options, we first review alternative disability concepts from other private and public disability programs that focus on an individual's residual capacity to work, rather than an inability to work. We then examine the potential implications of applying different components of these alternative conceptualizations to the current disability eligibility requirements. Our analysis illustrates that policymakers must weigh the real costs of creating a more expansive set of disability eligibility criteria that focus on work (which will significantly increase the size of the caseload) against the current costs of having an all-or-nothing disability definition.

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