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Key Findings Details

Is the 2010 Affordable Care Act Minimum Standard to Identify Disability in All National Datasets Good Enough for Policy Purposes?
Richard V. Burkhauser, T. Lynn Fisher, Andrew J. Houtenville and Jennifer R. Tennant
WP 2014-267

  • This study evaluates the efficacy of national datasets that seek to determine the effect of public policy on individuals with disabilities.
  • The six-question sequence instituted as the national standard for collection of health statistics by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 only identifies 66.3% of individuals in the Current Population Survey that matched Social Security Administration (SSA) records verify are receiving disability-based Social Security benefits.
  • When we add a work-activity question to the sequence, we capture 23.1 more percentage points of this Social Security benefit population, bringing the total to 89.3%.
  • The additional population captured by the work-activity question shares the same health characteristics as the population captured by the six-question sequence.
  • The inability of the current six-question sequence to capture those who have a work limitation and are judged disabled enough to receive Social Security benefits leads to an overstatement of labor force participation and employment rates and an understatement of poverty rates of the true working age population with disabilities.

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