Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) awards rise during recessions. If marginal applicants are able to work but unable to find jobs, countercyclical Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit extensions may reduce SSDI uptake. Exploiting UI extensions in the Great Recession as a source of variation, we find no indication that expiration of UI benefits causes SSDI applications and can rule out effects of meaningful magnitude. A supplementary analysis finds little overlap between the two programs’ recipient populations: only 28% of SSDI awardees had any labor force attachment in the prior calendar year, and of those, only 4% received UI.

Citation: Mueller, Andreas I., Jesse Rothstein, and Till M. von Wachter. “Unemployment Insurance and Disability Insurance in the Great Recession.” Journal of Labor Economics 34 (S1, pt. 2):S445-S475. January 2016.