Mandatory Spending

Function 650 - Social Security

Require Social Security Disability Insurance Applicants to Have Worked More in Recent Years

CBO periodically issues a compendium of policy options (called Options for Reducing the Deficit) covering a broad range of issues, as well as separate reports that include options for changing federal tax and spending policies in particular areas. This option appears in one of those publications. The options are derived from many sources and reflect a range of possibilities. For each option, CBO presents an estimate of its effects on the budget but makes no recommendations. Inclusion or exclusion of any particular option does not imply an endorsement or rejection by CBO.

Billions of Dollars 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032 2023–
Change in Outlays 0 -0.7 -2.0 -3.5 -5.1 -6.5 -7.9 -9.2 -10.5 -11.8 -11.3 -57.2

This option would take effect in January 2024.

Estimates include budgetary effects for Social Security benefits; that spending is classified as off-budget.

Estimates include effects on Social Security only; they do not include effects on other federal programs that could be affected, such as Supplemental Security Income, Medicare, Medicaid, and subsidies for coverage obtained through marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act.

To be eligible for benefits under Social Security Disability Insurance, most disabled workers must have worked 5 of the past 10 years. Specifically, workers over age 30 must have earned at least 20 quarters of coverage in the past 10 years. (In this option, the 10-year time frame is referred to as the look-back period.)

This option would increase the share of recent years that disabled workers must have worked and shorten the look-back period. It would require disabled workers older than 30 to have earned 16 quarters of coverage in the past 6 years—usually equivalent to working 4 of the past 6 years. That change in policy would apply to new applicants seeking benefits and would not affect blind applicants, who are exempt from the recency-of-work requirement. Disabled workers already receiving disability benefits would not be affected.