Nov 19, 2010

GAO Study On Effects Of Raising Retirement Age On Disability Claims

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report with the title, Raising the Retirement Ages Would Have Implications for Older Workers and SSA Disability Rolls. Below are some excerpts from the report's somewhat preliminary findings and one chart, just in case any reader thinks the report is dealing with a minor problem that can be safely ignored (click on chart to view it full size):
  • While general improvements in longevity, health, and workplace conditions over recent decades suggest that most workers would be capable of working to a later retirement age, many older workers would face health or physical challenges that could prevent them from working longer.
  • [A]bout one-quarter of age 60-61 workers—those just prior to early retirement eligibility and most likely to be impacted by a change in retirement age—from 1998 to 2008 reported a work-limiting health condition, and about two-thirds of those who work report having a job that is physically demanding.
  • Raising the EEA [Earliest Eligibility Age] or FRA [Full Retirement Age] could increase the number of applications to and beneficiaries of DI [Disability Insurance] and other assistance programs, as well as change retirement benefits.
  • A few researchers have begun to study the effects of the prior increase in the FRA, and two studies conclude that the increase has led to more DI applications.
  • Experts we interviewed indicated that modifications to the DI program and policy changes that provide alternative income support for low-income workers or employment support could help older workers who are unable to work, do not qualify for DI benefits, and are unable to receive enough support from existing programs.... Some proposals to support older workers include modifying the DI program, such as by allowing determinations of “partial disability” similar to how the Veterans Administration determines disability.
  • Raising the EEA would likely have larger effects than a comparable rise in the FRA on retirement decisions, DI applications and awards, and on vulnerable older workers because it would remove the age-62 early retirement option, as opposed to lowering benefits for all early retirees.

No comments: