August, 2016

Enhancing U.S. Retirement Security through Coordinated Reform of Social Security Disability and Retirement Insurance Programs

Summary

Many Social Security reform proposals have emphasized the role of savings over insurance, focusing on security in retirement.

Many Social Security reform proposals have emphasized the role of savings over insurance, focusing on security in retirement. In contrast, disability in prime working age is harder to save for and thus is arguably better considered an insurable event. However, unlike determination processes for many other catastrophes, disability determination often appears inherently relative and somewhat subjective. For these reasons, most social insurance reform proposals have advocated treating the reform of disability insurance separately, subsequent to any reform of the retirement system. This article focuses on disability insurance but makes the case for considering reforms made in tandem—that is, both developing disability program reforms that accommodate plausible retirement program reforms while properly aligning incentives to support work and savings and providing a financially secure, vital safety net for disabled Americans.

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