skip to content

Faculty of Economics

CWPE Cover

Low, H. and Pistaferri, L.

Disability Insurance and the Dynamics of the Incentive-Insurance Tradeoff


Abstract: We provide a lifecycle framework for comparing the insurance value and the incentive cost of disability benefits. We estimate the risks that individuals face and the parameters governing the disability insurance program using longitudinal US data on consumption, health, disability insurance, and wages. We characterize the economic effects of disability insurance and study how policy reforms impact behavior and household welfare. Disability insurance is characterised by high rejections rates of disabled applicants; acceptances of healthy applicants is less widespread. Welfare increases as: (1) the program becomes less strict, reducing rejection rates among the disabled, despite the worsening of incentives; (2) generosity is reduced or reassessments increased because false applications decline; (3) the generosity of unconditional means-tested benefits is increased.

Keywords: disability, social security, savings behavior, wage risk

JEL Codes: D91 H53 H55 J26

Author links:


Open Access Link:

Published Version of Paper: Disability insurance and the dynamics of the incentive-insurance tradeoff, Low, H. and Pistaferri, L., American Economic Review (2015)

<< CWPE Home | CWPE List 2014 >>