|FIGURE 1. Labor Force Participation of SSDI Applicants|
Although employment among SSDI applicants declined during the two years before application, the majority worked in the six-month period before that point. SSDI applicants experienced a consistent decline in employment--and an increase in being out of the labor market entirely--beginning more than two years before SSDI application. In Figure 1, we show two statistics: the proportion of SSDI applicants who were employed and the proportion who were without jobs and not looking for work; both are calculated when reported for at least one month during six-month intervals before SSDI application, and so are not mutually exclusive. Between 37 months and 42 months before their application, 89 percent of applicants worked (compared with 84 percent of the general population ages 25-55), whereas 18 percent were without jobs and were not looking for work at any point during the period (compared with 17 percent of the general population) (Table 1).
In the six-month period before SSDI application, the proportion of applicants who were employed declined to about two-thirds (66 percent). More than half of these applicants (54 percent) were neither working nor looking for work for at least one month during this period, however. This pattern suggests that, for many applicants, the attachment to the labor market is strong leading up to the point of applying for SSDI.