• latent class;
  • transition models;
  • NLTCS;
  • pattern mixture models;
  • chronic disability

Latent class transition models track how individuals move among latent classes through time, traditionally assuming a complete set of observations for each individual. In this paper, we develop group-based latent class transition models that allow for staggered entry and exit, common in surveys with rolling enrollment designs. Such models are conceptually similar to, but structurally distinct from, pattern mixture models of the missing data literature. We employ group-based latent class transition modeling to conduct an in-depth data analysis of recent trends in chronic disability among the U.S. elderly population. Using activities of daily living data from the National Long-Term Care Survey (NLTCS), 1982–2004, we estimate model parameters using the expectation–maximization algorithm, implemented in SAS PROC IML. Our findings indicate that declines in chronic disability prevalence, observed in the 1980s and 1990s, did not continue in the early 2000s as previous NLTCS cross-sectional analyses have indicated. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.