Responding to Disability Onset in the Late Working Years: What do Older Workers do?

Responding to Disability Onset in the Late Working Years: What do Older Workers do?

Published: Oct 01, 2022
Publisher: Research on Aging, vol. 44, issue 9-10
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Associated Project

Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (EPM-RRTC)

Time frame: 2015-2020

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research

Key Findings

We find that one-quarter of workers go on to experience new disabilities before full-retirement age. Relative to their peers who do not report disabilities, stopping work and significant occupational changes are more common among workers who experience new disabilities.

This study uses occupational data from the Health and Retirement Study to document the link between disability onset and occupational transitions among older adults who are working and do not report a disabling condition at age 55. We find that one-quarter of workers go on to experience new disabilities before full-retirement age. Relative to their peers who do not report disabilities, stopping work and significant occupational changes are more common among workers who experience new disabilities. Our results suggest that policies to support labor force attachment might consider the importance of new disability onset and whether employer accommodations might help workers with new disabling conditions remain in the jobs they held when their health began to limit their work.

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