Simplifying the Supplemental Security Income Program: Options for Eliminating the Counting of In-kind Support and Maintenance

by Richard Balkus, James Sears, Susan Wilschke, and Bernard Wixon
Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 68 No. 4, 2008

Text description fo Chart 1.
Treatment of earnings under SSI

Chart 1 is a line chart that illustrates the rate at which SSI benefits are reduced according to recipient earnings.

The vertical axis is labeled "benefit reduction rate (percent)." Zero, 50, and 100 percent intervals are marked on the axis. The horizontal axis is labeled "monthly earnings (dollars)." Dollar amounts from zero to 325 are marked on the axis in 65-dollar increments.

A line showing the benefit reduction rate starts at the zero-zero coordinate and remains flat at the zero-percent level moving left to right until it reaches 65 dollars. At that point the line turns 90 degrees and moves directly upward until it reaches the 50 percent level. Then the line again turns 90 degrees and moves left to right at the 50 percent level where it remains beyond the 325-dollar mark.

Text description for Chart 2.
Treatment of ISM contributions under SSI

Chart 2 is a line chart that illustrates the rate at which SSI benefits are reduced according to in-kind support and maintenance (ISM) contributions.

The vertical axis is labeled "benefit reduction rate (percent)." Zero, 50, and 100 percent intervals are marked on the axis. The horizontal axis is labeled "monthly earnings (dollars)." Zero, 232, and 464 dollar amounts are marked on the axis.

A line showing the benefit reduction rate starts at the zero dollars-100 percent coordinate and remains flat at the 100-percent level moving left to right until it reaches 232 dollars. At that point the line turns 90 degrees and moves directly downward until it reaches the zero percent level. Then the line again turns 90 degrees and moves left to right at the zero percent level where it remains beyond the 464-dollar mark.

Text description for Chart 3.
Simplified illustration of current SSI living arrangement and ISM process

Chart 3 is a flow chart showing the following.

If home ownership or rental liability equals yes then use the presumed maximum value rule: Consider ISM from inside the household:

then apply the full federal benefit rate (FBR) for living arrangement A.

If home ownership or rental liability equals no then evaluate separate purchase or consumption:

if yes:

then apply the full federal benefit rate (FBR) for living arrangement A.

If home ownership, rental liability, and separate purchase for consumption equal no then evaluate the pro rata share:

if yes, use PMV rule: Consider ISM from outside the household:

then apply the full federal benefit rate (FBR) for living arrangement A.

If home ownership, rental liability, separate purchase or consumption, and pro rata share equal no then use the Value of the One-Third Reduction Rule: living arrangement B and apply the FBR with a one-third reduction.

Table equivalent for Chart 5. Percentage distribution of SSI recipients under option 7/0
Distribution of SSI recipients Percent
New recipients 1
New program exits a 3
Increased benefits: currently charged with ISM; average net increase of $164 per month 9
Reduced benefits: live with others, not charged ISM; average benefit reduction of $44 per month 38
No change 49
SOURCE: 1996 SIPP panel and Social Security administrative records for November 1996, projected to December 2005.
NOTES: Data universe: Initial SSI recipients plus (estimated) new participants, for a total of 6,961,000 recipients.
SSI = Supplemental Security Income; ISM = in-kind support and maintenance; SIPP = Survey of Income and Program Participation.
a. The program exits include recipients who become ineligible for benefits as well as recipients classified as nonparticipants under the 7/0 simulation. The net change in recipients is -2 percent.
Table equivalent for Chart 6. Percentage distribution of SSI recipients under option 10/5
Distribution of SSI recipients Percent
New recipients 2
New program exits a 5
Increased benefits: live alone; average benefit increase of $38 per month 27
Increased benefits: currently charged with ISM; average net increase of $147 per month 7
Reduced benefits: live with others, not charged ISM; average benefit reduction of $63 per month 36
No change 23
SOURCE: 1996 SIPP panel and Social Security administrative records for November 1996, projected to December 2005.
NOTES: Data universe: Initial SSI recipients plus (estimated) new participants, for a total of 7,020,000 recipients.
SSI = Supplemental Security Income; ISM = in-kind support and maintenance; SIPP = Survey of Income and Program Participation.
a. The program exits include recipients who become ineligible for benefits as well as recipients classified as nonparticipants under the 10/5 simulation. The net change in recipients is -2 percent.
Table equivalent for Chart 7. SSI recipients whose benefits are increased under option 7/0: Poverty distribution before and after simulation
Household income
as a percentage
of poverty threshold
Number of recipients
Before After
Under 100 167,881 153,027
101 to 200 182,533 169,512
201 to 300 80,766 101,945
Over 300 181,099 187,793
SOURCE: Social Security Administration's Financial Eligibility Model.
NOTE: SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
Table equivalent for Chart 8. SSI recipients whose benefits are reduced under option 7/0: Poverty distribution before and after simulation
Household income
as a percentage
of poverty threshold
Number of recipients
Before After
Under 100 703,970 772,700
101 to 200 1,201,914 1,155,041
201 to 300 411,447 398,944
Over 300 334,761 325,414
SOURCE: Social Security Administration's Financial Eligibility Model.
NOTE: SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
Table equivalent for Chart 9. Combining SSI recipients whose benefits are increased and reduced under option 7/0: Poverty distribution before and after simulation
Household income
as a percentage
of poverty threshold
Number of recipients
Before After
Under 100 871,854 925,724
101 to 200 1,384,447 1,324,553
201 to 300 492,212 500,888
Over 300 515,860 513,207
SOURCE: Social Security Administration's Financial Eligibility Model.
NOTE: SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
Table equivalent for Chart 10. SSI recipients whose benefits are increased (charged with ISM) under option 10/5: Poverty distribution before and after simulation
Household income
as a percentage
of poverty threshold
Number of recipients
Before After
Under 100 92,327 86,202
101 to 200 178,293 156,545
201 to 300 80,765 104,187
Over 300 181,103 185,553
SOURCE: Social Security Administration's Financial Eligibility Model.
NOTE: SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
Table equivalent for Chart 11. SSI recipients whose benefits are increased (living alone) under option 10/5: Poverty distribution before and after simulation
Household income
as a percentage
of poverty threshold
Number of recipients
Before After
Under 100 1,660,718 1,610,207
101 to 200 182,125 232,604
201 to 300 7,136 7,136
Over 300 0 0
SOURCE: Social Security Administration's Financial Eligibility Model.
NOTE: SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
Table equivalent for Chart 12. SSI recipients whose benefits are reduced under option 10/5: Poverty distribution before and after simulation
Household income
as a percentage
of poverty threshold
Number of recipients
Before After
Under 100 666,598 787,282
101 to 200 1,166,715 1,069,461
201 to 300 404,503 390,179
Over 300 320,434 311,329
SOURCE: Social Security Administration's Financial Eligibility Model.
NOTE: SSI = Supplemental Security Income.
Table equivalent for Chart 13. Combining SSI recipients whose benefits are increased and reduced under option 10/5: Poverty distribution before and after simulation
Household income
as a percentage
of poverty threshold
Number of recipients
Before After
Under 100 2,419,643 2,483,691
101 to 200 1,527,132 1,458,610
201 to 300 492,404 501,502
Over 300 501,537 496,882
SOURCE: Social Security Administration's Financial Eligibility Model.
NOTE: SSI = Supplemental Security Income.