Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 59, No. 4

(released October 1996)
by John C. Hennessey

This article presents basic findings about the job patterns of disabled-worker beneficiaries covered under the Social Security Administration's Disability Insurance (DI) program as reported in the New Beneficiary Follow-up survey. Beneficiaries are asked retrospective questions about labor-force participation from the time of their first entitlement to disability benefits to the time of the interview.

Twelve percent of those persons who enter the DI program as nonworking beneficiaries start a job during their entitlement to benefits. The mean time to the start of the job was 3.4 years. Of those who start a job, 50 percent end the job before the end of their entitlement. Most of these persons leave the job for health-related reasons and, for most of them, the employer does not play a major role in their decision to stop working. For those who end the first job and are employed in subsequent jobs, the percentage who recover while still in the job decreases as the number of jobs increases.

by Michael V. Leonesio

Concern about the economic consequences of the aging of the United States population has prompted considerable research activity during the past two decades. Economists have carefully examined retirement patterns and trends, and sought to identify and measure the determinants of the timing of retirement by older workers. Much of the published retirement research is fairly technical by nature and is somewhat inaccessible to nonspecialist audiences. This article provides a nontechnical overview of this research. In contrast to other reviews of the retirement literature, this exposition emphasizes the basic ideas and reasoning that economists use in their research. In the course of recounting how economists' views about retirement have evolved in recent years, the article highlights landmark pieces of research, points out the specific advances made by the various researchers, and assesses what has been learned along the way.