Workplace Injuries and the Take-Up of Social Security Disability Benefits

by Paul O'Leary, Leslie I. Boden, Seth A. Seabury, Al Ozonoff, and Ethan Scherer
Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 72 No. 3, 2012
Table equivalent for Chart 1. Relationship between age and disability: US population, 2005 (percent with disabilities)
Age group All Severe
15–24 10.4 5.0
25–44 11.4 7.5
45–54 19.4 12.8
55–64 30.1 20.8
65 or older 51.8 36.9
SOURCE: Bureau of the Census, Americans with Disabilities: 2005, Table D-1, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/disability/sipp/disable05.html.
NOTES: Disability is defined based on the supplemental questionnaires on adult functional limitations in the Survey of Income and Program Participation.
A person is defined as having a nonsevere disability if he or she—
  • Had difficulty performing one or more functional activities, which include seeing, hearing, speaking, lifting/carrying, using stairs, walking, or grasping small objects
  • Had difficulty with one or more activities of daily living (ADLs), which include getting around inside the home, getting in or out of bed or a chair, bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting
  • Had difficulty with one or more instrumental ADLs, which include going outside the home, keeping track of money and bills, preparing meals, doing light housework, taking prescription medicines in the right amount at the right time, and using the telephone
  • Had one or more specified conditions: a learning disability or some other type of mental or emotional condition
A person is defined as having a severe disability if he or she—
  • Used a wheelchair, a cane, crutches, or a walker
  • Was unable to perform or needed help to perform one or more of the functional activities
  • Was unable to perform or needed help to perform one or more ADLs
  • Had one or more specified conditions: a developmental disability or Alzheimer's disease
  • Had any other mental or emotional condition that seriously interfered with everyday activities
  • Had a condition that limited the ability to work around the house or made it difficult to remain employed
Table equivalent for Chart 2. Receipt of DI benefits among medical-only and lost-time cases: Kaplan-Meier curves (percent with DI benefits)
Years from injury Medical-only cases Lost-time cases
0 0.00 0.00
0.25 0.00 0.00
0.5 0.01 0.03
0.75 0.04 0.57
1 0.16 1.45
1.25 0.25 1.74
1.5 0.36 2.04
1.75 0.46 2.35
2 0.56 2.70
2.25 0.64 2.97
2.5 0.76 3.24
2.75 0.91 3.46
3 1.02 3.72
3.25 1.15 4.00
3.5 1.27 4.33
3.75 1.38 4.63
4 1.50 4.91
4.25 1.62 5.17
4.5 1.76 5.49
4.75 1.91 5.79
5 2.05 6.02
5.25 2.21 6.29
5.5 2.38 6.67
5.75 2.53 6.96
6 2.68 7.24
6.25 2.79 7.55
6.5 2.97 7.83
6.75 3.12 8.11
7 3.28 8.44
7.25 3.46 8.76
7.5 3.63 9.03
7.75 3.80 9.33
8 3.98 9.66
8.25 4.17 9.97
8.5 4.35 10.27
8.75 4.53 10.53
9 4.70 10.80
9.25 4.87 11.08
9.5 5.06 11.35
9.75 5.21 11.53
10 5.39 11.81
10.25 5.55 12.08
10.5 5.70 12.35
10.75 5.88 12.66
11 6.01 12.91
11.25 6.19 13.19
11.5 6.33 13.48
11.75 6.46 13.70
12 6.59 13.88
12.25 6.70 14.15
12.5 6.86 14.38
12.75 7.00 14.54
13 7.12 14.80
13.25 7.23 15.03
13.5 7.33 15.24
13.75 7.48 15.43
14 7.61 15.55
14.25 7.70 15.73
14.5 7.80 15.83
14.75 7.96 16.01
15 8.08 16.05
15.25 8.20 16.21
15.5 8.25 16.38
15.75 8.29 16.46
16 8.32 16.54
SOURCE: Authors' analysis of New Mexico workers' compensation claims from 1994 through 2000 matched to Social Security administrative data.
NOTE: 95 percent confidence intervals around the cumulative failure curves in this chart are narrow—generally within 5 percent of the cumulative failure rate.
Table equivalent for Chart 3. Receipt of DI benefits among medical-only and lost-time cases, by age group: Kaplan-Meier curves (percent with DI benefits)
Years from injury Aged 15–24 Aged 25–34 Aged 35–44 Aged 45–54
Prediction from medical-only estimates Lost-time cases Prediction from medical-only estimates Lost-time cases Prediction from medical-only estimates Lost-time cases Prediction from medical-only estimates Lost-time cases
0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
0.25 0.00 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.02 0.03 0.01 0.08
0.5 0.02 0.13 0.03 0.45 0.04 0.58 0.09 1.07
0.75 0.04 0.31 0.10 0.87 0.20 1.48 0.45 3.24
1 0.07 0.35 0.13 1.02 0.34 1.71 0.67 4.07
1.25 0.12 0.36 0.21 1.21 0.47 1.96 0.99 4.84
1.5 0.13 0.38 0.26 1.39 0.66 2.24 1.25 5.63
1.75 0.14 0.46 0.30 1.47 0.82 2.61 1.53 6.57
2 0.17 0.54 0.36 1.56 0.89 2.95 1.78 7.18
2.25 0.23 0.60 0.42 1.72 1.05 3.30 2.07 7.69
2.5 0.27 0.62 0.54 1.80 1.27 3.54 2.39 8.22
2.75 0.31 0.69 0.59 1.94 1.42 3.79 2.67 8.86
3 0.34 0.73 0.66 2.09 1.60 4.06 3.06 9.56
3.25 0.36 0.79 0.75 2.22 1.74 4.44 3.39 10.31
3.5 0.37 0.81 0.82 2.35 1.84 4.71 3.78 11.17
3.75 0.38 0.85 0.88 2.48 2.04 5.08 4.13 11.72
4 0.41 0.91 0.93 2.60 2.20 5.37 4.52 12.33
4.25 0.43 0.97 1.04 2.82 2.33 5.76 4.97 12.94
4.5 0.48 1.01 1.12 3.03 2.48 6.04 5.47 13.59
4.75 0.52 1.05 1.20 3.10 2.67 6.38 5.85 14.07
5 0.55 1.13 1.28 3.24 2.91 6.64 6.27 14.70
5.25 0.61 1.19 1.38 3.52 3.08 7.06 6.85 15.45
5.5 0.63 1.23 1.44 3.68 3.32 7.46 7.24 15.97
5.75 0.67 1.31 1.57 3.82 3.47 7.68 7.68 16.71
6 0.72 1.39 1.63 4.04 3.63 8.00 7.99 17.35
6.25 0.74 1.51 1.76 4.21 3.85 8.35 8.48 17.81
6.5 0.76 1.56 1.88 4.37 3.98 8.66 9.00 18.42
6.75 0.79 1.64 1.98 4.46 4.26 9.08 9.32 19.22
7 0.81 1.74 2.08 4.62 4.49 9.46 9.86 19.88
7.25 0.88 1.80 2.13 4.74 4.77 9.72 10.33 20.53
7.5 0.92 1.84 2.24 4.98 4.95 10.05 10.88 21.11
7.75 0.98 1.92 2.33 5.18 5.18 10.41 11.38 21.81
8 1.03 1.98 2.46 5.41 5.38 10.72 12.00 22.48
8.25 1.09 2.05 2.60 5.56 5.57 11.12 12.51 23.06
8.5 1.12 2.11 2.74 5.76 5.77 11.40 12.99 23.56
8.75 1.16 2.19 2.82 5.90 6.07 11.68 13.43 24.18
9 1.18 2.23 2.92 6.08 6.36 12.01 13.81 24.77
9.25 1.24 2.25 3.03 6.16 6.59 12.36 14.34 25.38
9.5 1.31 2.32 3.10 6.24 6.76 12.55 14.79 25.83
9.75 1.33 2.41 3.22 6.42 7.05 12.91 15.24 26.28
10 1.35 2.41 3.37 6.54 7.26 13.31 15.57 26.79
10.25 1.37 2.43 3.51 6.77 7.47 13.60 15.90 27.27
10.5 1.39 2.55 3.64 7.01 7.72 14.00 16.37 27.70
10.75 1.44 2.55 3.75 7.19 7.87 14.29 16.72 28.22
11 1.49 2.63 3.82 7.43 8.12 14.66 17.23 28.62
11.25 1.52 2.69 3.96 7.61 8.30 15.02 17.61 29.15
11.5 1.56 2.77 4.06 7.78 8.49 15.33 17.88 29.44
11.75 1.60 2.80 4.15 7.94 8.67 15.63 18.19 29.56
12 1.64 3.06 4.21 8.06 8.86 15.97 18.46 29.98
12.25 1.67 3.13 4.31 8.19 9.11 16.29 18.87 30.39
12.5 1.70 3.24 4.43 8.32 9.30 16.51 19.27 30.55
12.75 1.75 3.35 4.53 8.61 9.49 16.73 19.44 30.95
13 1.77 3.43 4.63 8.72 9.70 16.91 19.62 31.68
13.25 1.80 3.43 4.70 8.86 9.89 17.22 19.74 32.07
13.5 1.85 3.48 4.77 8.98 10.14 17.44 20.18 32.51
13.75 1.91 3.53 4.84 9.07 10.34 17.59 20.51 32.73
14 1.93 3.65 4.90 9.16 10.47 17.87 20.75 32.98
14.25 1.95 3.65 4.98 9.19 10.63 18.02 20.98 33.27
14.5 1.97 3.72 5.12 9.23 10.84 18.43 21.37 33.38
14.75 2.02 3.72 5.18 9.23 11.12 18.53 21.44 33.38
15 2.06 3.72 5.26 9.29 11.32 18.79 21.61 33.71
15.25 2.06 3.72 5.29 9.36 11.37 19.21 21.84 33.71
15.5 2.06 3.72 5.38 9.36 11.37 19.32 21.84 34.03
15.75 2.06 3.72 5.38 9.36 11.47 19.49 21.84 34.03
16 2.06 3.72 5.38 9.36 11.47 19.49 21.84 34.03
SOURCE: Authors' analysis of New Mexico workers' compensation claims from 1994 through 2000 matched to Social Security administrative data.
NOTE: 95 percent confidence intervals around the cumulative failure curves in this chart are narrow—generally within 5 percent to 10 percent of the cumulative failure rate.
Table equivalent for Chart 4. Cox proportional hazards estimates of the impact of lost-time injuries on the receipt of DI benefits (percent with DI benefits)
Years from injury Prediction from medical-only estimates Lost-time estimates
0 0.00 0.00
0.25 0.01 0.03
0.5 0.05 0.57
0.75 0.21 1.50
1 0.33 1.82
1.25 0.48 2.14
1.5 0.61 2.46
1.75 0.75 2.83
2 0.85 3.12
2.25 1.01 3.39
2.5 1.19 3.62
2.75 1.33 3.90
3 1.51 4.19
3.25 1.67 4.53
3.5 1.82 4.86
3.75 1.99 5.14
4 2.16 5.41
4.25 2.35 5.73
4.5 2.56 6.04
4.75 2.74 6.27
5 2.95 6.56
5.25 3.19 6.94
5.5 3.38 7.22
5.75 3.58 7.52
6 3.73 7.84
6.25 3.97 8.12
6.5 4.18 8.40
6.75 4.37 8.76
7 4.61 9.09
7.25 4.84 9.37
7.5 5.08 9.67
7.75 5.31 10.01
8 5.57 10.33
8.25 5.81 10.63
8.5 6.04 10.89
8.75 6.27 11.18
9 6.48 11.47
9.25 6.72 11.74
9.5 6.92 11.94
9.75 7.16 12.21
10 7.34 12.48
10.25 7.52 12.73
10.5 7.76 13.03
10.75 7.93 13.28
11 8.17 13.55
11.25 8.35 13.83
11.5 8.51 14.05
11.75 8.68 14.20
12 8.82 14.49
12.25 9.03 14.72
12.5 9.22 14.88
12.75 9.36 15.13
13 9.49 15.41
13.25 9.60 15.63
13.5 9.81 15.84
13.75 9.98 15.96
14 10.10 16.15
14.25 10.23 16.27
14.5 10.43 16.43
14.75 10.55 16.45
15 10.67 16.62
15.25 10.75 16.74
15.5 10.78 16.85
15.75 10.80 16.89
16 10.80 16.89
SOURCE: Authors' analysis of New Mexico workers' compensation claims from 1994 through 2000 matched to Social Security administrative data.
Table equivalent for Chart 5. Cox proportional hazards estimates of the impact of lost-time injuries on the receipt of DI benefits, by workers' compensation severity group
Years from injury Permanent total disability Permanent partial disability Temporary disability at least 8 weeks Temporary disability less than 8 weeks Medical only
0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
0.25 0.00 0.05 0.04 0.02 0.00
0.5 2.85 1.12 0.45 0.30 0.04
0.75 6.35 3.05 1.30 0.65 0.15
1 7.06 3.56 1.59 0.83 0.23
1.25 8.47 4.06 1.93 1.04 0.33
1.5 8.47 4.58 2.20 1.28 0.45
1.75 9.17 5.20 2.61 1.47 0.55
2 9.87 5.65 2.87 1.68 0.63
2.25 9.87 6.12 3.18 1.87 0.76
2.5 9.87 6.40 3.45 2.07 0.91
2.75 9.87 6.87 3.75 2.22 1.01
3 9.87 7.23 4.18 2.42 1.14
3.25 10.57 7.84 4.36 2.69 1.27
3.5 10.57 8.30 4.61 2.94 1.38
3.75 11.27 8.66 4.97 3.21 1.50
4 11.96 9.03 5.28 3.43 1.64
4.25 12.66 9.44 5.70 3.73 1.79
4.5 12.66 9.90 5.99 3.99 1.96
4.75 12.66 10.27 6.33 4.14 2.10
5 12.66 10.56 6.51 4.43 2.24
5.25 12.66 11.09 6.90 4.75 2.43
5.5 14.05 11.45 7.18 5.02 2.57
5.75 14.05 11.78 7.46 5.32 2.73
6 14.75 12.21 7.90 5.59 2.86
6.25 14.75 12.64 8.32 5.85 3.04
6.5 16.16 12.98 8.62 6.13 3.20
6.75 16.88 13.47 8.96 6.43 3.33
7 18.31 13.93 9.38 6.67 3.52
7.25 18.31 14.23 9.72 6.95 3.71
7.5 18.31 14.63 10.08 7.24 3.89
7.75 19.02 15.07 10.29 7.59 4.09
8 19.02 15.33 10.73 7.90 4.29
8.25 20.43 15.58 11.17 8.19 4.48
8.5 20.43 15.93 11.55 8.49 4.66
8.75 21.17 16.29 11.82 8.75 4.83
9 21.17 16.54 12.24 9.06 5.00
9.25 21.92 16.90 12.60 9.26 5.19
9.5 22.68 17.17 12.81 9.45 5.35
9.75 22.68 17.48 13.14 9.73 5.53
10 24.23 17.76 13.50 10.00 5.68
10.25 24.23 18.01 13.80 10.29 5.84
10.5 25.03 18.29 14.22 10.58 6.03
10.75 25.03 18.58 14.45 10.87 6.19
11 25.85 18.83 14.72 11.18 6.36
11.25 25.85 19.30 14.94 11.44 6.53
11.5 25.85 19.58 15.15 11.64 6.66
11.75 26.72 19.75 15.37 11.85 6.80
12 27.61 20.05 15.63 12.07 6.93
12.25 27.61 20.41 15.74 12.29 7.10
12.5 27.61 20.53 15.97 12.47 7.26
12.75 27.61 20.89 16.09 12.73 7.39
13 28.61 21.11 16.45 12.93 7.51
13.25 28.61 21.31 16.74 13.20 7.61
13.5 28.61 21.54 16.79 13.39 7.76
13.75 28.61 21.75 16.91 13.53 7.87
14 28.61 21.96 17.04 13.74 7.99
14.25 28.61 22.05 17.34 13.80 8.08
14.5 28.61 22.36 17.59 13.96 8.23
14.75 28.61 22.60 17.59 14.02 8.35
15 28.61 22.74 17.70 14.15 8.45
15.25 28.61 22.83 18.00 14.36 8.51
15.5 28.61 22.96 18.00 14.42 8.54
15.75 28.61 22.96 18.00 14.52 8.57
16 28.61 22.96 18.00 14.52 8.57
SOURCE: Authors' analysis of New Mexico workers' compensation claims from 1994 through 2000 matched to Social Security administrative data.
NOTE: In the small permanent total disability sample (N = 139), no new DI cases were observed more than 13 years after injury.