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Project Number: p05-01c

Understanding State Variations in Return to Work Rates for DI Beneficiaries

Principal Investigators: Monroe Berkowitz and Sophie Mitra

Project Type: Core Research

Project Year: 05

Thematic Category: Return to Work

Project Summary:

For the first time in 2002, Social Security published return to work rates by states. There is sufficient variation here for us to inquire as to why these differences exist. Return to work rates ranged from 0.2% in West Virginia to 0.9% in Colorado and Delaware in 2002. The purpose of this study is to identify the determinants of cross state differences in return to work rates.

The key question is whether these cross state differences are the result of differences in the local economic conditions of the states or of differences in the way DI is administered at the state level, in particular the stringency of the disability determination process and the frequency of continuing disability reviews. Other possible sources of cross state differences include differences in disabled workers’ demographic profiles and participation in state Vocational Rehabilitation. An answer to this question will afford Social Security clues as to where expenditures ought to be made to increase the number of persons who leave the rolls to return to work.