CPRC SEMINAR: Has Wider Availability of Prescription Drugs for Pain Relief Affected SSDI and SSI Enrollment?
Motivated by a large and growing share of people who receive disability insurance for pain-related conditions, and the growing availability of prescription opioids compared with historical standards, we examine how expanded availability of opioid medication has affected enrollment in the SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. We use two types of analysis, both relying on differences in the availability of opioid medications across areas (states or commuting zones) over time. The first analysis is aggregate: we examine the relationship between area-level changes in the availability of opioid medications from 2001-2015 and federal disability applications. We distinguish trends prior to 2010, when prescribing was rising in virtually all areas, from opioid prescribing after 2010, when some areas experienced a continued rise in prescription opioid availability just as other areas experienced abrupt declines. We complement this with individual data from the Health and Retirement Study.