This project analyzes the medical-vocational grid in the context of the contemporary labor market. The medical-vocational grid is a decision tool used to assess whether disability applicants have skills that are transferable to jobs that are feasible given their residual functional capacity. The basic structure of the grid has not been reassessed over time, even as there have been profound changes in the nature of work, and as vocational allowances have grown as a portion of disability awards. The project estimates the proportion of applicants who receive disability benefits because of the grid’s cutoffs—and therefore, if the grid were changed, may not receive disability benefits. It also analyzes the residual work capacity of applicants who are near the cutoffs, and whether the percent of applicants on the eligibility margin and their residual work capacity vary systematically across local labor markets.
The Vocational Grid and Work Capacity of Low-Skilled Disability Applicants
Investigators: Nicole Maestas (Harvard and NBER), Kathleen Mullen (RAND), Alexander Strand (SSA)