Research and Analysis by Satya Kochhar
In December 1993, about 3.8 million persons under age 65 received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments because of a disability. More than half of these recipients had some form of mental disorder. In recent years, the number of disabled SSI recipients has climbed sharply. At the same time, there has been a change in the disability patterns among these recipients. The proportion of recipients with mental disorders, particularly those with psychiatric illness, is increasing steadily. Many of these recipients enter the SSI program in their youth and may stay in the program for many years. Similar increases and disability patterns in the Social Security Administration's Disability Insurance (DI) program imply program related causes, including recent changes to the disability requirements and outreach efforts. These changing disability patterns have implications for the size and shape of future SSI caseloads.
This article updates one that appeared in the Bulletin in July 1990. It describes living arrangements of persons receiving payments under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program from October 1994 through September 1995. The data were taken from the Quality Assurance review conducted by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This procedure is used by SSA to determine the frequency and causes of incorrect determinations of eligibility and payment amounts.
It is difficult to describe the living arrangement for the "typical" recipient. Nevertheless, some interesting patterns emerge in an analysis of the data. About 59 percent (owners and renters combined) of the 6.3 million SSI recipients lived in their own households. Approximately 32 percent of them shared a living arrangement with someone else and about 5 percent of the recipients lived in an institution.
Of those SSI recipients living in households, about 36 percent lived alone. Less then 13 percent lived with only their spouses or with only their spouses and minor children. Approximately 11 percent of those in households were child recipients living with parents. An additional 15 percent of the SSI recipients lived in households with only other related adults (other than a spouse or parents).
In 1995, about 1,017,100 persons receiving payments from the Supplemental Security Income program had their cases closed and their payments stopped. This figure represents 16 percent of all recipients paid during 1995. The most frequently cited reason for these case closures were excess income and death. Of those cases closed for reasons other than death, 41 percent eventually returned to payment status within 1 year. Based on work done with earlier cohorts, that figure can be expected to rise to nearly 50 percent after 4 years have elapsed.
The number of case closures in a given year is affected primarily by the size of the caseload and the number of reviews that these cases undergo. Despite some fluctuations in the numbers of these reviews over the last 8 years, the overall number of closures as a percent of caseload has remained fairly steady—in the 16- to 18-percent range.