Recipients of Supplemental Security Income and the Student Earned Income Exclusion

by Mary Kemp
Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 70 No. 2, 2010

This article presents the results of a first effort to create and statistically analyze a data set containing detailed information on the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), which is part of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. It presents descriptive statistics on (1) demographic characteristics of SSI recipients with SEIE; (2) various measures of SEIE use, such as dollar amounts excluded per year, numbers of months of use per year, and percentages of SSI recipients using the SEIE; (3) seasonal patterns in SEIE use based on month-by-month SEIE amounts; and (4) seasonal patterns in factors driving month-by-month gains and losses of SEIE eligibility, including changes in earnings, student status, age, and eligibility for SSI, as well as effects of the annual SEIE limit.


The author is with the Division of SSI Statistics and Analysis, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, Social Security Administration.

Acknowledgments: The author thanks Clark Pickett and Joe Steffens for their invaluable insights on the SSI program and the SEIE; Jake Goldman for the substantial work of creating the custom data set; Judi Papas, Clark Pickett, and Joe Steffens for data-related expertise; Linda Smith for extracting additional data; John Hennessey and Clark Pickett for guidance with the SAS statistical software; Bill Davis and Justin Ronca for several illuminating discussions relating to the standard errors; and Susan Grad, Rene Parent, Clark Pickett, Carolyn Puckett, Manuel de la Puente, Joe Steffens, and others for reviewing drafts of this article.

The findings and conclusions presented in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Social Security Administration.

Introduction: Supplemental Security Income and the Student Earned Income Exclusion

Selected Abbreviations
FBR federal benefit rate
SEIE Student Earned Income Exclusion
SGA substantial gainful activity
SSA Social Security Administration
SSI Supplemental Security Income

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides monthly cash payments to persons who are aged, blind, or disabled and have income and resources below certain limits. SSI payments, roughly speaking, bring a recipient's total income up to at least a specified floor. This floor is the individual federal benefit rate (FBR), in the simplest case of an individual living alone in his or her own household.1 The individual FBR is the maximum possible federal SSI payment to an eligible individual. If the recipient has other income, then depending on its type and amount, actual payments will typically be smaller. This article is based on data from 2004 and 2005; the individual FBR, which is adjusted each year for inflation, was $564 per month in 2004 and $579 per month in 2005.

Among the provisions of the SSI program are several financial supports and incentives for recipients to improve their prospects for employment and self-support. One of these—the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE)—is the subject of this article. The SEIE applies automatically in months when an SSI recipient is under age 22, regularly attending school in grade 7 or above, and receiving earned income (almost always wages).2 This article focuses on persons who received the SEIE in any month when they were due SSI payment during 2004 or 2005.3

Each month's federal SSI payment is typically calculated as the difference between the FBR and the recipient's countable income. If countable income exceeds the FBR, no SSI payment is due. Countable income consists of the recipient's earned and unearned income received in the appropriate month, reduced by certain exclusions such as the SEIE.

For SSI purposes, earned income consists of gross wages, net earnings from self-employment, sheltered workshop earnings, royalties, and honoraria—with wages being by far the most common. When SSI recipients meet the SEIE criteria (age, earnings, and student status), some or all of their earned income is excluded from their countable income. Thus, the SEIE can help an individual gain or maintain eligibility for cash SSI payments and is partly a work incentive and partly a financial support for education. For 2004 and 2005, respectively, the annual limits on the SEIE were $5,520 and $5,670; the monthly limits were $1,370 and $1,410.4

Since April 2005, the SEIE has applied to any working student in grade 7 or above and under age 22 whose income affects an SSI payment.5 Prior to April 2005, the SEIE was known as the Student Child Earned Income Exclusion and, under the more restrictive definition of "child," did not apply if the working student was a head of household or married. For SSI purposes, someone who lives alone and has no dependents can still be a head of household; the defining characteristics of a "head of household" are responsibility for day-to-day household decisions and absence of parental support.

For SSI purposes, a "student" may be regularly attending school (grades 7 through 12), college, university, or other training designed to prepare him or her for a paying job; this includes vocational or technical training and government antipoverty programs such as Job Corps.6 SSI recipients must report their income, and those in the SEIE age group must report changes in their student status. Because they do not have to take any action beyond these basic reporting requirements to receive the SEIE, we cannot, from the available data, distinguish those who deliberately take advantage of the SEIE from those who benefit from it inadvertently.

The criteria for SEIE receipt are based on

  • Age
  • Earnings
  • Student status
  • SEIE annual limit

and, prior to April 2005, also on

  • Child status

The SEIE can help an individual gain or maintain eligibility for cash SSI payments. If an SSI claimant has monthly earnings above $65 but below the monthly substantial gainful activity (SGA) level (which was $810 in 2004 and $830 in 2005), then the SEIE can, depending on the amount of countable unearned income, make the difference between establishment of initial eligibility and denial of the SSI claim on the basis of excess income.7

The SEIE will not help establish initial eligibility for SSI if the applicant's earnings are above the SGA level because receipt of Section 1619(a) payments—SSI payments received despite earnings that exceed SGA—requires a "prerequisite month" of receipt of regular SSI payment. However, once the "prerequisite month" is satisfied, the SEIE can help someone continue to receive cash SSI payments under Section 1619(a). Section 1619(a) payments are calculated in the same manner as regular SSI payments. Section 1619(a) is considered a work incentive because, in conjunction with the various exclusions for earned income (including the SEIE), it allows people who have already qualified for SSI to continue receiving payments even when their work activity reaches a level that would have resulted in denial of their original SSI claim.

The SEIE does not apply in the threshold test for Section 1619(b) status. Section 1619(b) enables SSI recipients to retain Medicaid eligibility despite having enough total income to reduce their SSI payments to zero; to qualify, they must be eligible for regular SSI payments but for their earnings, and their earnings must be below a certain threshold. Section 1619(b) is also considered a work incentive because it helps people who have received SSI to work without losing the health care benefits that normally accompany SSI eligibility.

For further discussion of the effect of the SEIE on an SSI recipient's income, see Appendix A.

About the Data

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has not previously published detailed statistics on the SEIE. The regular statistical publications covering the SSI program use cross-sectional (that is, single-point-in-time) data captured each December, and one might expect December SEIE recipients not to be representative of all SEIE recipients. First, one might expect students' earnings and hence their SEIE use to exhibit seasonality—to be higher in summer, for instance. Second, many of the highest earners might reach the calendar-year SEIE limit ($5,520 in 2004 or $5,670 in 2005—which is far less than twelve times the monthly limit of $1,370 or $1,410) and cease to receive SEIE prior to December each year.

For these reasons, monthly longitudinal data were used for this article. From a 10 percent sample of all SSI records, all individuals against whose income the SEIE applied during at least one month in 2004 or 2005 were selected. Data for 2 years were used in hopes of detecting any seasonal patterns in SEIE use. Although SEIE amounts can be posted to an SSI recipient's record even in months when no SSI payment is due, the selected group was further restricted to count a person as an "SSI recipient with SEIE" in a particular month only if he or she had SEIE applied against income earned in that month and was due an SSI payment for that month. For additional information on the sample selection, see Appendix B. For notes on sampling variability and tables showing standard errors, see Appendix C.

For brevity, this article often uses the term "SEIE recipient" to refer to an "SSI recipient with SEIE" as defined here. This article also uses the term "SEIE amount;" this term refers to an amount of money used in the SSI payment calculation, not an amount that is received directly.

Data for 2004 and 2005 were chosen despite the availability of more recent data because earnings, student status, and even disability status can be changed retroactively on the records of SSI recipients. Periodic "redeterminations" sometimes bring to light new information about an SSI recipient. So if the data originally entered for a given month were incorrect, the passage of 1 or 2 years would make discovery and correction more likely to have occurred.

SEIE Statistics

The following sections present statistics on demographic characteristics of SSI recipients with SEIE, measures of SEIE use, and seasonal patterns in SEIE use. All statistics presented in the tables and charts are population estimates. For instance, numbers of SEIE recipients and aggregate SEIE amounts are sample totals multiplied by 10.

SSI Recipients with SEIE

There were about 26,000 SSI recipients with SEIE in each of the years 2004 and 2005. The tables in this section describe some of their demographic characteristics as well as several simple measures of SEIE use.

Some tables give statistics spanning an entire calendar year; in these tables, a person's age is defined as the age used in determining December SEIE eligibility.8 "Numbers of SSI recipients aged 12–22" exclude all persons who, because of marital status or head of household status, would not have had SEIE amounts posted to their SSI records even had they been working students. The SEIE use rate is defined as the percentage of SSI recipients aged 12–22 who were SEIE recipients.

Table 1 shows that SEIE use started for a few persons prior to age 16, peaked—in terms of both number of recipients and use rate—around age 18 or 19 (at least for persons in the sample), and then fell off drastically well before the age-22 cutoff, possibly due to loss of student status upon completion of schooling. The majority of SEIE recipients in the sample were male, roughly in proportion with the gender distribution of SSI recipients in the relevant age bracket. Mental retardation was the most common diagnosis among SEIE recipients in the sample, followed by other mental disorders; together, all mental disorders accounted for nearly three-quarters of SEIE recipients' primary diagnoses, with nervous system disorders accounting for a large portion of the remainder. The nervous system disorders category includes, as a relatively small subset, the vast majority of persons who are eligible for SSI on the basis of blindness.

Table 1. Number and percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), mean and median SEIE amounts, number of SSI recipients aged 12–22, and SEIE use rate, by age, sex, and diagnosis group, 2004–2005 (population estimates)
Recipient characteristic Number of SSI recipients with SEIE Percentage distribution of SEIE recipeints Mean SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Median SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Number of SSI recipients aged 12–22 SEIE use rate (%)
2004
Overall 26,050 100.0 1,530 1,007 850,300 3.1
Age
12–15 810 3.1 794 527 328,670 0.2
16 2,390 9.2 1,048 708 77,240 3.1
17 3,620 13.9 1,591 1,099 70,930 5.1
18 5,890 22.6 1,477 967 81,650 7.2
19 4,820 18.5 1,486 980 81,680 5.9
20 3,920 15.0 1,801 1,201 72,940 5.4
21 2,940 11.3 1,785 1,347 73,110 4.0
22 1,660 6.4 1,669 1,022 64,080 2.6
Sex
Female 10,070 38.7 1,484 911 318,780 3.2
Male 15,980 61.3 1,558 1,050 531,520 3.0
Diagnosis group
Nervous system disorders 3,140 12.1 1,714 1,196 87,790 3.6
Mental retardation 11,080 42.5 1,371 843 309,420 3.6
Other mental disorders 8,280 31.8 1,540 1,056 340,590 2.4
Other 3,550 13.6 1,838 1,287 112,500 3.2
2005
Overall 25,650 100.0 1,625 1,005 884,750 2.9
Age
12–15 600 2.3 844 592 332,330 0.2
16 2,380 9.3 1,184 788 83,610 2.8
17 4,340 16.9 1,638 1,156 77,520 5.6
18 5,140 20.0 1,564 911 87,130 5.9
19 5,010 19.5 1,549 934 82,680 6.1
20 3,320 12.9 1,874 1,253 78,540 4.2
21 3,130 12.2 2,078 1,414 77,110 4.1
22 1,730 6.7 1,571 870 65,830 2.6
Sex
Female 9,850 38.4 1,567 994 330,120 3.0
Male 15,800 61.6 1,661 1,020 554,630 2.8
Diagnosis group
Nervous system disorders 2,990 11.7 1,831 1,199 88,400 3.4
Mental retardation 10,650 41.5 1,444 859 303,870 3.5
Other mental disorders 8,670 33.8 1,614 1,031 376,950 2.3
Other 3,340 13.0 2,046 1,408 115,530 2.9
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
NOTE: Distribution totals do not necssarily equal 100.0 because of rounding.

Differences across diagnosis groups in the estimated SEIE use rates may well derive, at least in part, from differences across age groups in the distribution of diagnoses. For example, SSI recipients with mental retardation outnumbered those with other mental disorders in the 18–21 age group, while the reverse was true for the 13–17 age group.9 This, in combination with the low SEIE use rates up to age 16 and the higher use rates at ages 17 through 20 or 21, could help account for the relatively low estimated SEIE use rates for persons with "other mental" disorders.

Table 1 shows that mental retardation was the most common diagnosis for SEIE recipients in the sample overall. Charts 1a and 1b and Table 2 show that mental retardation was also the most common diagnosis at each age from 17 or 18 to 22, across which ages it accounted for a fairly constant share of diagnoses. Other mental disorders, forming the second most common diagnosis group for SEIE recipients overall, were the most common diagnoses among those aged 16 and younger but trended downward as a percentage of diagnoses with increasing age. In contrast, the percentage of SEIE recipients in the sample with nervous system disorders mostly trended upward with age.

Chart 1a.
Percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) by disability diagnosis group, by age, 2004
Source data for this chart is provided in Table 2.
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Chart 1b.
Percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) by disability diagnosis group, by age, 2005
Source data for this chart is provided in Table 2.
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Table 2. Percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) by diagnosis group, by age, 2004–2005 (population estimates)
Diagnosis group Age
12–15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
2004
Nervous system disorders 7.4 4.2 5.8 9.8 12.7 14.8 19.0 27.7
Mental retardation 34.6 34.3 41.4 43.0 45.4 44.4 43.9 44.6
Other mental disorders 48.1 49.8 37.0 36.2 30.1 23.5 19.0 16.3
Other 9.9 11.7 15.7 11.0 11.8 17.3 18.0 11.4
2005
Nervous system disorders 16.7 6.7 4.8 10.3 12.2 16.0 15.0 22.5
Mental retardation 23.3 29.4 37.1 45.9 45.3 43.4 44.1 42.8
Other mental disorders 46.7 51.7 46.3 32.9 31.1 24.7 24.6 17.9
Other 13.3 12.2 11.8 10.9 11.4 16.0 16.3 16.8
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
NOTE: Distribution totals do not necessarily equal 100.0 because of rounding.

Tables 3a and 3b show that California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio were among the states with the most SEIE recipients in the sample. States with the highest SEIE use rates included Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Geographic variations seen here in SEIE use rates are similar to geographic variations in the percentage of SSI recipients who worked10 and the percentage of SSI recipients who participated in Section 1619.11

Table 3a. Number and percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), mean and median SEIE amounts, number of SSI recipients aged 12–22, and SEIE use rate, by state of residence, 2004 (population estimates)
State Number of SSI recipients with SEIE Percentage distribution of SEIE recipients Mean SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Median SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Number of SSI recipients aged 12–22 SEIE use rate (%)
Overall 26,050 100.0 1,530 1,007 850,300 3.1
Alabama 250 1.0 2,538 2,141 21,510 1.2
Alaska 10 0.0 a a 1,070 0.9
Arizona 350 1.3 1,449 1,109 12,960 2.7
Arkansas 120 0.5 1,438 1,002 12,210 1.0
California 1,500 5.8 1,378 844 86,000 1.7
Colorado 210 0.8 1,868 1,360 6,380 3.3
Connecticut 310 1.2 1,670 780 6,420 4.8
Delaware 160 0.6 1,002 860 2,930 5.5
District of Columbia 40 0.2 942 a 3,450 1.2
Florida 900 3.5 2,282 1,655 62,100 1.4
Georgia 180 0.7 1,536 1,376 25,720 0.7
Hawaii 50 0.2 2,419 a 1,540 3.2
Idaho 90 0.3 718 340 3,820 2.4
Illinois 1,790 6.9 1,514 1,020 40,430 4.4
Indiana 610 2.3 1,221 670 15,880 3.8
Iowa 620 2.4 1,170 575 6,690 9.3
Kansas 310 1.2 1,555 784 6,210 5.0
Kentucky 240 0.9 1,600 1,238 20,330 1.2
Louisiana 240 0.9 1,737 1,651 24,240 1.0
Maine 110 0.4 1,039 892 3,710 3.0
Maryland 490 1.9 2,175 1,518 13,680 3.6
Massachusetts 940 3.6 1,960 1,483 16,890 5.6
Michigan 970 3.7 1,508 1,179 32,590 3.0
Minnesota 1,170 4.5 1,417 856 10,710 10.9
Mississippi 90 0.3 2,839 2,680 16,950 0.5
Missouri 680 2.6 1,450 845 17,150 4.0
Montana 160 0.6 909 663 1,750 9.1
Nebraska 200 0.8 1,253 806 3,520 5.7
Nevada 100 0.4 1,539 2,087 4,780 2.1
New Hampshire 250 1.0 1,138 573 2,300 10.9
New Jersey 750 2.9 1,439 1,020 17,330 4.3
New Mexico 230 0.9 1,791 1,084 6,410 3.6
New York 2,140 8.2 1,274 852 55,560 3.9
North Carolina 650 2.5 1,504 975 28,360 2.3
North Dakota 130 0.5 1,476 1,038 1,180 11.0
Ohio 2,200 8.4 1,513 1,122 36,360 6.1
Oklahoma 460 1.8 1,186 824 10,590 4.3
Oregon 190 0.7 1,117 543 7,380 2.6
Pennsylvania 1,850 7.1 1,411 912 47,540 3.9
Rhode Island 10 0.0 a a 3,600 0.3
South Carolina 210 0.8 1,984 1,301 14,790 1.4
South Dakota 300 1.2 1,199 1,082 1,880 16.0
Tennessee 280 1.1 2,210 1,481 18,630 1.5
Texas 1,020 3.9 1,858 1,382 55,280 1.8
Utah 110 0.4 1,499 762 3,820 2.9
Vermont 190 0.7 1,343 990 1,920 9.9
Virginia 670 2.6 1,942 1,371 19,030 3.5
Washington 360 1.4 1,702 1,070 13,660 2.6
West Virginia 130 0.5 1,326 1,097 7,490 1.7
Wisconsin 970 3.7 1,169 759 14,490 6.7
Wyoming 60 0.2 1,007 1,101 900 6.7
Other/unknown 0 0.0 . . . . . . 180 0.0
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
NOTE: . . . = not applicable.
a. Suppressed to protect confidentiality.
Table 3b. Number and percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), mean and median SEIE amounts, number of SSI recipients aged 12–22, and SEIE use rate, by state of residence, 2005 (population estimates)
State Number of SSI recipients with SEIE Percentage distribution of SEIE recipients Mean SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Median SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Number of SSI recipients aged 12–22 SEIE use rate (%)
Overall 25,650 100.0 1,625 1,005 884,750 2.9
Alabama 260 1.0 2,309 1,123 21,560 1.2
Alaska 30 0.1 1,101 a 1,290 2.3
Arizona 280 1.1 1,666 913 13,510 2.1
Arkansas 130 0.5 998 702 12,850 1.0
California 1,560 6.1 1,536 904 89,450 1.7
Colorado 180 0.7 2,231 1,314 6,600 2.7
Connecticut 270 1.1 1,214 656 6,570 4.1
Delaware 130 0.5 1,444 1,436 3,020 4.3
District of Columbia 70 0.3 2,337 1,500 3,820 1.8
Florida 1,010 3.9 2,236 1,591 64,410 1.6
Georgia 140 0.5 2,342 1,867 26,540 0.5
Hawaii 40 0.2 2,129 a 1,520 2.6
Idaho 100 0.4 2,129 1,601 3,910 2.6
Illinois 1,650 6.4 1,681 1,000 40,560 4.1
Indiana 640 2.5 1,558 919 16,560 3.9
Iowa 530 2.1 1,425 500 6,980 7.6
Kansas 370 1.4 1,329 736 6,060 6.1
Kentucky 300 1.2 1,728 1,106 21,600 1.4
Louisiana 240 0.9 2,218 1,679 25,550 0.9
Maine 80 0.3 1,591 780 3,890 2.1
Maryland 500 1.9 2,230 1,722 14,330 3.5
Massachusetts 830 3.2 1,807 1,053 17,830 4.7
Michigan 940 3.7 1,602 1,251 34,130 2.8
Minnesota 970 3.8 1,527 833 11,030 8.8
Mississippi 140 0.5 2,000 1,636 16,870 0.8
Missouri 640 2.5 1,585 1,032 17,350 3.7
Montana 150 0.6 709 237 1,890 7.9
Nebraska 180 0.7 1,368 793 3,420 5.3
Nevada 90 0.4 1,762 1,642 4,860 1.9
New Hampshire 140 0.5 1,394 733 2,480 5.6
New Jersey 790 3.1 1,266 893 18,120 4.4
New Mexico 190 0.7 1,871 1,133 6,840 2.8
New York 2,310 9.0 1,403 897 57,520 4.0
North Carolina 740 2.9 1,493 1,182 29,730 2.5
North Dakota 120 0.5 2,017 1,428 1,200 10.0
Ohio 2,130 8.3 1,687 1,020 37,270 5.7
Oklahoma 450 1.8 1,484 909 11,000 4.1
Oregon 180 0.7 1,193 736 7,620 2.4
Pennsylvania 2,070 8.1 1,510 1,086 50,880 4.1
Rhode Island 30 0.1 2,339 a 3,860 0.8
South Carolina 160 0.6 2,190 1,326 15,160 1.1
South Dakota 240 0.9 1,126 848 1,830 13.1
Tennessee 270 1.1 1,999 874 18,700 1.4
Texas 1,060 4.1 1,794 1,195 59,850 1.8
Utah 130 0.5 1,840 1,406 4,050 3.2
Vermont 220 0.9 1,584 1,083 2,120 10.4
Virginia 580 2.3 1,773 1,369 20,190 2.9
Washington 350 1.4 2,062 1,295 14,430 2.4
West Virginia 90 0.4 1,664 1,431 7,910 1.1
Wisconsin 920 3.6 1,181 621 15,030 6.1
Wyoming 30 0.1 1,257 a 810 3.7
Other/unknown 0 0.0 . . . . . . 190 0.0
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
NOTES: . . . = not applicable.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
a. Suppressed to protect confidentiality.

SEIE Use

Tables 4a and 4b show two measures of SEIE use: (1) the amount of income excluded per year under the SEIE and (2) the number of months per year with income excluded under the SEIE. Table 5 gives estimates of the number of people reaching the annual SEIE limit each month.

Table 4a. Number and percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), by annual SEIE amount and number of months with SEIE during year, 2004 (population estimates)
SEIE use Number Percentage distribution
Total 26,050 100.0
Annual SEIE amount ($) a
1–552 8,160 31.3
553–1,104 5,670 21.8
1,105–1,656 3,540 13.6
1,657–2,208 2,590 9.9
2,209–2,760 1,680 6.4
2,761–3,312 930 3.6
3,313–3,864 740 2.8
3,865–4,416 690 2.6
4,417–4,968 510 2.0
4,969–5,520 1,540 5.9
Months with SEIE
1 3,110 11.9
2 3,150 12.1
3 3,540 13.6
4 2,730 10.5
5 2,870 11.0
6 2,830 10.9
7 1,250 4.8
8 1,090 4.2
9 1,090 4.2
10 1,070 4.1
11 730 2.8
12 2,590 9.9
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
NOTE: Distribution totals do not necssarily equal 100.0 because of rounding.
a. Brackets reflect 10 percent intervals of the 2004 annual limit of $5,520.
Table 4b. Number and percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), by annual SEIE amount and number of months with SEIE during year, 2005 (population estimates)
SEIE use Number Percentage distribution
Total 25,650 100.0
Annual SEIE amount ($) a
1–567 8,000 31.2
568–1,134 5,830 22.7
1,135–1,701 3,100 12.1
1,702–2,268 2,050 8.0
2,269–2,835 1,720 6.7
2,836–3,402 1,080 4.2
3,403–3,969 830 3.2
3,970–4,536 750 2.9
4,537–5,103 510 2.0
5,104–5,670 1,780 6.9
Months with SEIE
1 2,980 11.6
2 3,380 13.2
3 3,060 11.9
4 2,420 9.4
5 2,740 10.7
6 2,580 10.1
7 1,150 4.5
8 1,460 5.7
9 1,160 4.5
10 1,200 4.7
11 820 3.2
12 2,700 10.5
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
NOTE: Distribution totals do not necssarily equal 100.0 because of rounding.
a. Brackets reflect 10 percent intervals of the 2005 annual limit of $5,670.
Table 5. Number and percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) by annual SEIE limit status, with month in which limit was reached, 2004–2005 (population estimates)
Annual limit status Number Percent
2004
SSI recipients with SEIE 26,050 100.0
SEIE under the annual limit 25,010 96.0
SEIE equal to the annual limit 1,040 4.0
Annual limit reached in—
May 90 0.3
June 120 0.5
July 80 0.3
August 110 0.4
September 160 0.6
October 160 0.6
November 170 0.7
December 150 0.6
2005
SSI recipients with SEIE 25,650 100.0
SEIE under the annual limit 24,430 95.2
SEIE equal to the annual limit 1,220 4.8
Annual limit reached in—
May 40 0.2
June 70 0.3
July 60 0.2
August 250 1.0
September 210 0.8
October 130 0.5
November 230 0.9
December 230 0.9
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.

In most cases, SEIE recipients' earned income was much lower than the calendar-year SEIE limit. In fact, almost one-third of SEIE recipients used less than 10 percent of the annual limit, and approximately half used less than 20 percent. The earnings distribution continued to tail off steadily after this point, with only about 2 percent of SEIE recipients using between 80 percent and 90 percent of the annual limit. Earned income translates roughly into SEIE amounts, and so the two quantities have basically the same distribution. Whereas the earnings distribution tailed off steadily, however, the SEIE distribution had a second mode because of SEIE recipients with earnings equal to or greater than the SEIE annual limit. Of the 6–7 percent of SEIE recipients in Tables 4a and 4b using more than 90 percent of the annual limit, most reached the limit (as can be seen by comparison with Table 5). For a discussion of the limitations of using SEIE amounts to quantify the impact of the SEIE, see Appendix A.

For each year, SEIE use in any number of months between 1 and 6 was fairly common, with each number accounting for about 10–13 percent of SEIE recipients in the sample. SEIE use in all 12 months was also common, accounting for about 10 percent of SEIE recipients. Use in any number of months from 7 to 11 was much less common among sample members.

Table 5 shows that in each year, approximately 4–5 percent of SSI recipients with SEIE reached the annual limit. Some reached the limit as early as May, and a few reached the limit each month thereafter through the end of the year. (Because of the monthly limit on the SEIE, it is impossible to reach the annual limit prior to May.)12

Charts 2a and 2b and Table 6 show the estimated relationship between age and months of SEIE use per year. In the 12–15 age group in the sample, 1–3 months of SEIE use per calendar year was by far most common, followed by 4–6 months of SEIE use. This ranking held at each age up to and including age 18, with the proportion of SEIE recipients in the 1–3 month category trending down with increasing age and the proportion in the 4–6 month category trending up. The two proportions were approximately equal by age 19. The proportion of SEIE recipients in the 10–12 month category in the sample also generally trended upward with age, surpassing the proportion in the 7–9 month category at age 19 and approximately matching the proportions in the 1–3 month and 4–6 month categories at age 20. Thus, it appears that older SEIE recipients tended to have more months of SEIE use per calendar year than did younger SEIE recipients. However, at age 22, the increasing trend for the 10–12 month category and the declining trend for the 1–3 month category both reverse. This naturally results from the loss of eligibility for SEIE that occurs in the month after attainment of age 22.

Chart 2a.
Percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) by number of months with SEIE during 2004, by age
Source data for this chart is provided in Table 6.
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Chart 2b.
Percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) by number of months with SEIE during 2005, by age
Source data for this chart is provided in Table 6.
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Table 6. Percentage distribution of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) by number of months with SEIE during the calendar year, by age, 2004–2005 (population estimates)
Number of months Age
12–15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
2004
1–3 66.7 60.3 41.7 42.4 33.6 27.0 20.1 32.5
4–6 19.8 25.1 28.7 31.4 35.1 28.3 42.2 44.6
7–9 3.7 9.2 13.8 14.6 11.4 16.6 11.6 16.9
10–12 9.9 5.4 15.7 11.5 19.9 28.1 26.2 6.0
2005
1–3 65.0 55.9 41.9 40.9 34.1 25.3 18.8 37.0
4–6 20.0 26.1 26.3 29.6 36.1 26.2 31.6 38.7
7–9 6.7 10.1 15.0 17.7 10.4 16.3 17.3 19.1
10–12 8.3 8.0 16.8 11.9 19.4 32.2 32.3 5.2
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
NOTE: Distribution totals do not necssarily equal 100.0 because of rounding.

Seasonality

There appeared to be seasonality both in monthly numbers of SSI recipients with SEIE and in monthly average and aggregate SEIE amounts. Contrary to intuitive notions about students, school vacations, and summer jobs, the number of SEIE recipients in the sample reached its annual trough around July. Aggregate, mean, and median SEIE amounts, in contrast, all peaked near July. Charts 3–6 plot the estimated monthly numbers of SSI recipients with SEIE and estimated monthly aggregate, mean, and median SEIE amounts; Table 7 presents the numeric values.

Chart 3.
Number of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), monthly 2004–2005 (population estimates)
Source data for this chart is provided in Table 7.
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Chart 4.
Aggregate Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), all Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients, monthly 2004–2005 (millions of dollars; population estimates)
Source data for this chart is provided in Table 7.
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Chart 5.
Mean Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) among Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with SEIE, monthly 2004–2005 (in dollars)
Source data for this chart is provided in Table 7.
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Chart 6.
Median Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) among Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with SEIE, monthly 2004–2005 (in dollars)
Source data for this chart is provided in Table 7.
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Table 7. Number of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), mean and median SEIE among SEIE recipients, and aggregate SEIE in millions of dollars, by month, 2004–2005 (population estimates)
Month Number of SSI recipients with SEIE Mean SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Median SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Aggregate SEIE (millions of dollars)
2004 2005 2004 2005 2004 2005 2004 2005
January 11,980 12,160 269 256 175 171 3.226 3.118
February 12,220 12,110 252 259 178 190 3.084 3.140
March 12,530 12,360 265 285 188 195 3.324 3.519
April 13,010 13,010 292 289 200 200 3.799 3.764
May 13,020 12,990 272 274 204 195 3.546 3.556
June 12,420 12,100 294 312 207 220 3.652 3.769
July 10,420 10,990 388 395 300 308 4.040 4.343
August 10,730 11,250 356 359 280 284 3.816 4.035
September 10,550 10,920 275 297 204 207 2.903 3.246
October 10,620 10,960 264 273 202 210 2.808 2.989
November 10,880 11,330 254 268 200 200 2.766 3.038
December 10,990 11,190 262 282 200 205 2.881 3.160
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.

The number of SEIE recipients in December actually exceeded the number of participants in each of three other SSI work incentives—Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS), Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE), and Blind Work Expenses (BWE)—even though none of these three incentives is, like the SEIE, age-limited.13

Increases and Decreases in the Number of SSI Recipients with SEIE

Chart 7 breaks down the monthly changes in the count of SSI recipients with SEIE according to the factors causing gain or loss of SEIE status. Anyone gaining or losing SEIE status from one month to the next is classified into one of five nonoverlapping categories, and Chart 7 displays, for each month, the net change attributable to each category. The categories correspond to changes in the following combinations of factors: (1) SSI eligibility alone; (2) earnings, alone or concurrently with SSI eligibility; (3) student status, alone or concurrently with earnings or SSI eligibility; (4) annual limit status, alone or concurrently with student status, earnings, or SSI eligibility; and (5) age status, alone or concurrently with any other factors.

Chart 7.
Monthly gains and losses in number of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) attributable to each of five combinations of eligibility factors, 2004–2005 (population estimates)
Source data for this chart is provided in Table 8.
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.

The categories are hierarchical. Category assignment for a loss of SEIE, for instance, would proceed as follows: First, check whether age 22 was attained. If so, assign category 5 and stop. Second, check whether the annual limit was met. If so, assign category 4 and stop. Third, check whether school attendance ceased. If so, assign category 3 and stop. Fourth, check whether earnings ceased. If so, assign category 2 and stop. Fifth, the only remaining possibility is that SSI eligibility was suspended. Assign category 1.

For further information on the categories, see Appendix D.

Chart 7 suggests that relatively few SSI recipients remain eligible for the SEIE long enough to lose it upon attaining age 22; far more people lose SEIE eligibility upon leaving school prior to age 22.

Changes in student status appeared to drive the summer decrease in the count of SEIE recipients. For purposes of the SEIE, a person retains student status during school vacations provided he or she plans to (and does) return to school when classes resume; thus, most individuals should not lose their student status at the beginning of summer vacations only to regain it at the end. High school graduation, however, could account for numerous losses of student status (and hence of SEIE status) in June and July.14

The calendar-year limit on the SEIE also contributed to seasonality in the monthly numbers of SEIE recipients. In particular, some SEIE recipients reached the annual limit each month from June through December; then, in January, most of them regained SEIE status.

The bar segments in Chart 7, like the combinations of factors to which they correspond, are nonoverlapping. The first bar represents changes from January 2004 to February 2004; using 24 months' SEIE data, only 23 month-to-month changes could be calculated.

Table 8 shows the numeric values underlying Chart 7 and provides a more complete breakdown of the month-to-month changes in the count of SSI recipients with SEIE. It shows the number of gains, the number of losses, and the net change attributable to each category for each month. The table shows, for instance, that earnings were much more volatile than student status, in the sense that relatively small monthly net gains of SEIE status in the "earnings" category usually resulted from large numbers of mostly offsetting gains and losses.15

Table 8. Monthly gains and losses in number of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) attributable to each of five combinations of eligibility factors, 2004–2005 (population estimates)
Month Age Annual limit Student status Earnings status SSI eligibility
Losses Gains Losses Gains Losses Net change Gains Losses Net change Gains Losses Net change
2004
February 70 0 0 40 120 -80 1,040 810 230 290 130 160
March 80 0 0 30 30 0 960 660 300 180 90 90
April 90 0 0 60 80 -20 1,150 640 510 320 240 80
May 90 0 0 50 70 -20 930 940 -10 340 210 130
June 90 0 90 110 1,380 -1,270 1,880 1,020 860 160 170 -10
July 100 0 120 100 2,280 -2,180 2,120 1,660 460 210 270 -60
August 100 0 70 530 70 460 1,020 1,080 -60 180 100 80
September 60 0 110 490 50 440 1,750 2,140 -390 120 180 -60
October 100 0 170 150 100 50 1,840 1,460 380 190 280 -90
November 100 0 150 80 70 10 1,120 760 360 270 130 140
December 90 0 190 20 60 -40 1,010 540 470 190 230 -40
2005
January 110 680 0 240 110 130 1,500 1,300 200 380 110 270
February 50 0 0 50 120 -70 1,010 960 50 150 130 20
March 100 0 0 60 90 -30 990 680 310 190 120 70
April 120 0 0 120 50 70 1,470 720 750 250 300 -50
May 90 0 0 50 40 10 870 960 -90 340 190 150
June 120 0 50 130 1,190 -1,060 1,550 1,140 410 130 200 -70
July 100 0 60 130 1,710 -1,580 2,350 1,640 710 150 230 -80
August 70 0 60 550 50 500 890 1,140 -250 280 140 140
September 100 0 240 460 90 370 1,940 2,170 -230 130 260 -130
October 160 0 220 80 120 -40 1,780 1,340 440 200 180 20
November 110 0 140 70 50 20 1,320 760 560 240 200 40
December 70 0 250 10 30 -20 920 620 300 200 300 -100
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.

Summary

This article takes a preliminary descriptive look at SSI recipients with SEIE, attempting to answer the following questions: To what extent are SSI recipients using the SEIE? What are the characteristics of SEIE recipients? How intensively is the SEIE used by those who do use it? Which of the limitations on the SEIE—dollar maximums, age restrictions, and so on—are most often actually limiting? What seasonal patterns does SEIE receipt follow?

Regarding extent of SEIE use, there were about 26,000 SSI recipients with SEIE in each of the years 2004 and 2005; this represented about 3 percent of SSI recipients between the ages of 12 and 22 (Table 1). According to December counts (Table 7), the number of SEIE recipients exceeded the number of participants in PASS (Plan for Achieving Self Support), IRWE (Impairment Related Work Expenses), or BWE (Blind Work Expenses), even though none of the latter three provisions is age-limited (SSA 2005b, 2006). Working while attending school, at least among SSI recipients under age 22, is nearly tantamount to SEIE receipt; a person need not know about the SEIE to benefit from it, because the SEIE applies automatically when a student reports earned income—and income reporting is obligatory for SSI recipients. Nevertheless, even among SSI recipients who would presumably be high school students—those aged around 18 or 19 years—the SEIE use rate (and hence the proportion of working students on SSI) was under 8 percent each year (Table 1). A visual inspection of state-by-state SEIE use rates does suggest possible wide variation (Tables 3a and 3b), similar geographically to that in state-by-state rates of work and Section 1619 participation (SSA 2005b, 2006). Also, the estimated SEIE use rate appeared a bit higher for persons diagnosed with nervous system disorders or mental retardation and a bit lower for persons diagnosed with other mental disorders (Table 1); this could have derived in part from variations by age in the prevalence of different disability diagnoses. The SEIE could potentially help an SSI recipient stay in school by making tuition more affordable or by defraying other costs of continued school attendance. Indeed, about 4 percent of SSI recipients were still working students (and SEIE recipients) as they approached the age-22 SEIE cutoff (Table 1). The question of how much the SEIE affected such individuals' decision to work and continue attending school remains open.

What are the characteristics of SEIE recipients? SSI recipients with SEIE were, roughly like SSI recipients in the 12–22 age group overall, predominantly male (about 60 percent) and overwhelmingly diagnosed with mental disabilities (about 75 percent). They were mostly 16–21 years old, with the highest concentration near ages 18 and 19 (Table 1).

How intensively is the SEIE used by those SSI recipients who do use it? Many SEIE recipients had only a few hundred dollars of earned income per year subject to the SEIE (Tables 4a and 4b) and thus technically received SEIE even though other earned income exclusions were redundant. Almost one-third of SEIE recipients used less than 10 percent of the annual SEIE limit, and approximately half used less than 20 percent of the annual limit. Fewer and fewer SEIE recipients fell into each successive percentage-of-limit bracket, except for the highest bracket, which includes recipients with earnings equal to or greater than the SEIE limit; each year, about 4–5 percent of SSI recipients with SEIE reached the calendar-year SEIE limit (Table 5)—a few each month from May to December. The median annual SEIE amount was around $1,000, less than one-fifth of the limit (Tables 1, 3a, and 3b). About 70 percent of SSI recipients with SEIE received SEIE for 6 or fewer months; about 10 percent received SEIE continuously through the calendar year (Tables 4a and 4b).

Which of the limitations on the SEIE—dollar maximums, age restrictions, and so forth—are most often actually limiting? Most entries to the group of SEIE recipients occurred when an SSI recipient, already attending school, began working (Chart 7 and Table 8); most exits from the group of SEIE recipients occurred when an SEIE recipient ceased to attend school (almost always in June or July). The SEIE calendar-year limit did cause a smaller number of people to cycle out of the group of SEIE recipients and then back in the following January, and the proportion of SEIE recipients ceasing to qualify for SEIE because of the age constraint was similar to that affected by the annual limit—about 4–5 percent (Chart 7 and Table 8). This latter number excludes SSI recipients who did not actually receive SEIE in the month before reaching the age limit.

What seasonal patterns are evident? Apparently due to the large number of exits around what we might think of as the end of the spring school semester, the monthly number of SEIE recipients actually appeared to reach its annual trough in summer (Chart 3); aggregate SEIE amounts seemed to peak in the summer, however, as did average SEIE amounts, suggesting increased work activity during school vacations (Charts 4–6). Seasonal patterns observed in several charts in this article, particularly those involving exit and subsequent reentry caused by the SEIE annual limit (Chart 7), suggest that any future analyses of the SEIE should at least consider using full-year data rather than one monthly cross-section.

Appendix A: Effect of the SEIE on Total Income

How large is the financial effect of the SEIE? For SSI recipients with small amounts of earned income (up to $65 or even $85 per month, depending on unearned income), the SEIE is redundant with other income exclusions and thus has, arguably, no effect on its recipients' total income. For higher earners, it can have a great impact. For instance, in 2004, someone with no countable unearned income and monthly earned income equal to the monthly SEIE limit of $1,370 would typically receive no SSI payment if not eligible for the SEIE; with the SEIE, this person would receive the maximum monthly federal SSI payment of $564. A person with no countable unearned income and monthly earned income equal to one-twelfth of the annual SEIE limit, or $460, would receive an SSI payment of $376.50 without the SEIE or $564 with the SEIE, a difference of $187.50 per month. Depending on its type, unearned income in excess of $20 often reduces the federal SSI payment dollar for dollar, so typically the higher a person's unearned income, the more limited the potential impact of the SEIE.

Even people with the same total amounts of earned income, unearned income, and SEIE within a given calendar year theoretically could, simply due to the timing of the receipt of that income, receive substantially different SSI payments. This is a caveat for interpreting the amount of income excluded under SEIE as a measure of SEIE use, as it is not perfectly correlated with the monetary value of the SEIE to the recipient.

As an example, consider two SSI recipients who reach the annual limit near the middle of the year. Suppose one of them receives substantial unearned income in the months prior to reaching the annual limit and much less in subsequent months; this person will receive less total SSI during the year than the other, who has the same pattern of earnings and SEIE use but receives the bulk of the unearned income after reaching the annual limit rather than before. Table A-1 presents a hypothetical example, with values somewhat contrived so as to emphasize the disparity.

Table A-1. Hypothetical example of disparate effects of Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) on total SSI payments (in dollars)
Payment computation step Person A Person B
January through June July through December January through June July through December
Monthly unearned income 400 0 0 400
$20 general exclusion (20) (20)
Countable unearned income 380 0 0 380
Monthly earned income 945 945 945 945
SEIE (945) 0 (945) 0
Remaining general exclusion (20) 0
$65-plus-half-remainder exclusion (495) (505)
Countable earned income 0 430 0 440
Total countable income 380 430 0 820
Monthly SSI payment 199 149 579 0
Total annual SSI payments 2,088 3,474
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.

This example ignores certain technicalities related to deciding which month's countable income determines a given month's SSI payment amount, but if, for instance, we assume that neither person is due an SSI payment in December of the preceding year, then the scenario shown in the table is accurate except for a $100 understatement of the total calendar-year SSI amount for Person A.

Appendix B: Notes on Sample Selection and the Definition of "SEIE Recipients"

Several practical issues affected sample selection. The data selection necessarily excluded persons for whom explicit SEIE amounts were unavailable, most notably SEIE recipients who were ineligible for SSI (such as deemors and ineligible children—see note 5) and SEIE recipients who were members of eligible couples (that is, couples with both spouses eligible for SSI). Because of changes in the law that took effect in April 2005, eligible couples and deemors qualified for the SEIE only during the last 9 of the 24 months covered by the data; in this sense, their exclusion keeps the selection criteria for the data set more consistent over time. In some other cases, SEIE recipients may not have been identifiable as such from the available data, but such instances are probably rare. Of the 3,999 SEIE recipients originally selected, 9 were dropped because of difficulties parsing their records' data.

Even after everyone for whom complete SEIE data were available had been identified, definitional choices arose; the definition of "SEIE recipient" in this article is but one of several reasonable alternatives. Two principles guided its choice. The first principle was to focus on "cash SSI recipients"—disregarding, for example, SEIE amounts posted to the not-yet-terminated SSI record of someone who no longer met the SSI disability criteria. The second principle was to focus on people whose SSI eligibility or payment amount was actually affected by the SEIE.

These principles led to decisions to eliminate from the analysis any SEIE amounts posted during a long period of Section 1619(b) status or during a series of nonpayment months long enough that a new SSI application would be needed before SSI payments could resume. The decision to eliminate SEIE amounts posted during shorter periods of nonpayment months interspersed with months when SSI payment was due was more difficult: The two principles conflict here, as such SEIE amounts can interact with the calendar-year SEIE limit to affect subsequent SEIE receipt. However, elimination criteria involving nonpayment status or absence of SEIE "continuing through the end of the calendar year" would have serious drawbacks. Even though such criteria would perhaps be the most obvious way of keeping SEIE amounts that might affect subsequent ones while discarding others, they could bias the results by eliminating months occurring later in the calendar year more often than those occurring earlier. Consequently, all nonpayment months were eliminated, restricting the definition of "SEIE recipients" to those persons who were due an SSI payment in a month when the SEIE applied.

This definition yields a group that is mostly inclusive of, but somewhat larger than, the second principle's group of persons actually affected by the SEIE. In particular, SEIE amounts were counted for some months that would have been months of SSI eligibility even had the SEIE not applied; such SEIE amounts only sometimes increase the SSI payment amount as compared with the counterfactual situation involving no SEIE. Because of redundant exclusions (if earnings are $65 or less per month, then the "$65 plus half remainder" earned income exclusion will reduce a nonstudent's countable income as much as the SEIE would a student's), SEIE amounts associated with monthly earned income of $65 or less can never affect SSI eligibility or payment amount. Yet person-months with earned income under $65 were included in the analysis. Focusing on the group of "persons whose SSI eligibility or payment amount was affected by the SEIE" would have required hypothetical calculations of what SSI payment amounts would have been had the SEIE not been involved, and not all the data required for such calculations were obtained. Instead, the slightly more inclusive definition of the population of interest, given above, was chosen.

One final point deserves mention. Some states provide supplementary payments to SSI recipients, and it is possible for countable income to be too high for federal SSI payment in a particular month yet low enough for a state supplementary payment to be made. In this article, for states where SSA administers the supplementary payments, such months are counted as months of SSI receipt. This may make counts of SEIE recipients slightly higher than they would have been in the absence of federally-administered state supplementation; from another point of view, it creates some state-to-state variation in the maximum amount of income that a person can have and still be counted in this article as having received SSI and the SEIE.

Appendix C: Sampling Variability

The numbers presented in this article are subject to sampling variability; they are only estimates of numbers for the full population of SSI recipients with SEIE. Differences between the statistics for 2004 and those for 2005, if small relative to their standard errors, may have resulted from sampling variability rather than from actual differences in the full population of SEIE recipients. This also applies to differences between statistics (such as estimated mean SEIE amounts) across different groups of SEIE recipients.

The 10 percent sample file is the most complete source of longitudinal SEIE data readily available for statistical purposes. It is drawn from the Supplemental Security Record (SSR)—a database of all persons who have ever filed for SSI or were converted from state assistance payments to SSI in January 1974—based on the last two digits of SSI recipients' Social Security numbers (SSNs). Because any particular person's SSN is very nearly equally likely to end in any of the 100 possible pairs of digits 00 through 99, the 10 percent sample file can be regarded as a simple random sample.

Standard errors for median SEIE amounts were calculated by bootstrap. Standard errors for total numbers and percents of persons and for mean SEIE amounts were calculated according to the basic formulas for simple random samples or domains (subpopulations) thereof.16 Calculations were based on the original sample size of about 700,000 SSI recipients, not the much smaller intersection of that sample with the set of SEIE recipients. The sampling fraction for SSI recipients was assumed to be exactly 10 percent (which should be very close to true), and the formulas all involved a finite population correction. In cases where the SAS SURVEYMEANS procedure was used (for example, for standard errors of mean SEIE amounts), the Taylor series linearization formulas implemented by this procedure simplify to the basic simple random sample formulas. The statistics in Table 8 are differences between pairs of estimated population totals; the standard error estimates (see Table C-7) include an estimated covariance term.

Tables C-1a and C-1b provide standard errors for estimated total numbers of SSI recipients with SEIE. Tables C-1c and C-1d provide standard errors for estimated proportions of all SSI recipients with SEIE. This presentation format is possible because, given the sample size and sampling fraction (and for the proportions, also the total number of SSI recipients with SEIE in the sample), these standard errors depend only on the value of the statistic itself. Subsequent Appendix C tables correspond to specific tables found in the main article and give standard errors for quantities, such as estimated mean SEIE amounts, estimated proportions of subpopulations of SEIE recipients, and net changes in numbers of SSI recipients with SEIE, that are not amenable to the presentation format of Tables C-1a through C-1d. If a table from the main article does not have a corresponding Appendix C table, the reader may conclude that the standard errors in Tables C-1a through C-1d are applicable.

Table C-1a. Estimated standard errors for numbers of SSI recipients with SEIE, 2004
Estimated number of SSI recipients with SEIE Estimated standard error
26 15
52 22
78 26
104 31
130 34
195 42
261 48
326 54
391 59
456 64
521 68
586 73
651 77
716 80
782 84
912 91
1,042 97
1,172 103
1,303 108
1,433 114
1,563 119
1,693 123
1,824 128
1,954 133
2,084 137
2,214 141
2,345 145
2,475 149
2,605 153
2,866 161
3,126 168
3,387 175
3,647 181
3,908 187
4,168 194
4,429 200
4,689 205
4,950 211
5,210 216
5,731 227
6,252 237
6,773 247
7,294 256
7,815 265
8,336 274
8,857 282
9,378 290
9,899 298
10,420 306
11,723 325
13,025 342
14,328 359
15,630 375
16,933 390
18,235 405
19,538 419
20,840 432
22,143 446
23,445 459
24,748 471
26,050 483
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Table C-1b. Estimated standard errors for numbers of SSI recipients with SEIE, 2005
Estimated number of SSI recipients with SEIE Estimated standard error
26 15
51 21
77 26
103 30
128 34
192 42
257 48
321 54
385 59
449 64
513 68
577 72
641 76
705 80
770 83
898 90
1,026 96
1,154 102
1,283 107
1,411 113
1,539 118
1,667 122
1,796 127
1,924 132
2,052 136
2,180 140
2,309 144
2,437 148
2,565 152
2,822 159
3,078 166
3,335 173
3,591 180
3,848 186
4,104 192
4,361 198
4,617 204
4,874 209
5,130 215
5,643 225
6,156 235
6,669 245
7,182 254
7,695 263
8,208 272
8,721 280
9,234 288
9,747 296
10,260 304
11,543 322
12,825 339
14,108 356
15,390 372
16,673 387
17,955 401
19,238 416
20,520 429
21,803 442
23,085 455
24,368 467
25,650 480
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Table C-1c. Estimated standard errors for percentages that have the total number of SEIE recipients (26,050 in 2004) as the denominator
Estimated percentage Estimated standard error
0.10 0.06
0.20 0.08
0.30 0.10
0.40 0.12
0.50 0.13
0.75 0.16
1.00 0.18
1.25 0.21
1.50 0.23
1.75 0.24
2.00 0.26
2.25 0.28
2.50 0.29
2.75 0.30
3.00 0.32
3.50 0.34
4.00 0.36
4.50 0.39
5.00 0.41
5.50 0.42
6.00 0.44
6.50 0.46
7.00 0.47
7.50 0.49
8.00 0.50
8.50 0.52
9.00 0.53
9.50 0.55
10.00 0.56
11.00 0.58
12.00 0.60
13.00 0.63
14.00 0.64
15.00 0.66
16.00 0.68
17.00 0.70
18.00 0.71
19.00 0.73
20.00 0.74
22.00 0.77
24.00 0.79
26.00 0.82
28.00 0.83
30.00 0.85
32.00 0.87
34.00 0.88
36.00 0.89
38.00 0.90
40.00 0.91
45.00 0.92
50.00 0.93
55.00 0.92
60.00 0.91
65.00 0.89
70.00 0.85
75.00 0.80
80.00 0.74
85.00 0.66
90.00 0.56
95.00 0.41
100.00 0.00
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Table C-1d. Estimated standard errors for percentages that have the total number of SEIE recipients (25,650 in 2005) as the denominator
Estimated percentage Estimated standard error
0.10 0.06
0.20 0.08
0.30 0.10
0.40 0.12
0.50 0.13
0.75 0.16
1.00 0.19
1.25 0.21
1.50 0.23
1.75 0.25
2.00 0.26
2.25 0.28
2.50 0.29
2.75 0.31
3.00 0.32
3.50 0.34
4.00 0.37
4.50 0.39
5.00 0.41
5.50 0.43
6.00 0.44
6.50 0.46
7.00 0.48
7.50 0.49
8.00 0.51
8.50 0.52
9.00 0.54
9.50 0.55
10.00 0.56
11.00 0.59
12.00 0.61
13.00 0.63
14.00 0.65
15.00 0.67
16.00 0.69
17.00 0.70
18.00 0.72
19.00 0.73
20.00 0.75
22.00 0.78
24.00 0.80
26.00 0.82
28.00 0.84
30.00 0.86
32.00 0.87
34.00 0.89
36.00 0.90
38.00 0.91
40.00 0.92
45.00 0.93
50.00 0.94
55.00 0.93
60.00 0.92
65.00 0.89
70.00 0.86
75.00 0.81
80.00 0.75
85.00 0.67
90.00 0.56
95.00 0.41
100.00 0.00
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Table C-2. Estimated standard errors for Table 1
Recipient characteristic Mean SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Median SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Number of SSI recipients aged 12–22 SEIE use rate (%)
2004
Overall 27.46 28.03 2,601 0.05
Age
12–15 82.05 78.17 1,679 0.02
16 60.04 70.11 829 0.18
17 75.95 86.11 795 0.24
18 57.78 55.44 854 0.27
19 61.37 69.93 856 0.24
20 77.58 96.25 812 0.25
21 84.34 110.42 817 0.21
22 120.12 165.71 767 0.18
Sex
Female 43.12 48.30 1,665 0.09
Male 35.55 32.98 2,106 0.07
Diagnosis group
Nervous system disorders 83.13 133.16 886 0.18
Mental retardation 39.47 35.33 1,637 0.10
Other mental disorders 48.11 40.70 1,713 0.07
Other 83.07 88.90 1,003 0.15
2005
Overall 29.72 29.71 2,638 0.05
Age
12–15 105.25 105.90 1,688 0.02
16 72.89 75.72 862 0.17
17 67.70 69.35 831 0.24
18 64.65 80.22 880 0.23
19 65.82 50.18 858 0.24
20 87.53 117.94 836 0.21
21 99.80 135.21 829 0.21
22 121.17 109.16 769 0.18
Sex
Female 46.16 45.72 1,684 0.08
Male 38.70 40.09 2,144 0.06
Diagnosis group
Nervous system disorders 92.90 99.40 886 0.18
Mental retardation 42.80 39.20 1,618 0.10
Other mental disorders 50.64 54.59 1,792 0.07
Other 91.63 110.27 1,012 0.14
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Table C-3. Estimated standard errors for Table 2
Year and diagnosis group Age
12–15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
2004
Nervous system disorders 2.76 1.23 1.17 1.17 1.44 1.70 2.17 3.30
Mental retardation 5.01 2.91 2.46 1.94 2.15 2.38 2.75 3.66
Other mental disorders 5.27 3.07 2.41 1.88 1.98 2.03 2.17 2.72
Other 3.15 1.97 1.82 1.22 1.39 1.82 2.13 2.35
2005
Nervous system disorders 4.56 1.54 0.98 1.27 1.39 1.91 1.92 3.01
Mental retardation 5.18 2.80 2.20 2.09 2.11 2.58 2.66 3.57
Other mental disorders 6.11 3.07 2.27 1.97 1.96 2.25 2.31 2.77
Other 4.16 2.01 1.47 1.30 1.35 1.91 1.98 2.69
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Table C-4a. Estimated standard errors for Table 3a
State Mean SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Median SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Number of SSI recipients aged 12–22 SEIE use rate (%)
Alabama 334.20 371.99 442 0.21
Alaska a a 99 0.88
Arizona 229.92 203.07 343 0.42
Arkansas 361.06 432.65 334 0.26
California 106.46 60.68 877 0.13
Colorado 340.08 333.84 240 0.67
Connecticut 298.10 338.83 241 0.80
Delaware 181.99 147.05 163 1.26
District of Columbia 266.98 a 176 0.54
Florida 176.79 250.94 746 0.14
Georgia 317.66 408.22 482 0.15
Hawaii 770.41 a 118 1.35
Idaho 221.04 339.88 186 0.73
Illinois 100.55 145.68 603 0.30
Indiana 163.98 124.02 379 0.45
Iowa 159.65 107.28 247 1.06
Kansas 299.97 396.16 237 0.82
Kentucky 269.37 355.65 433 0.22
Louisiana 279.48 264.45 468 0.19
Maine 305.32 364.97 183 0.83
Maryland 255.81 476.02 351 0.47
Massachusetts 159.42 250.42 390 0.52
Michigan 129.61 169.91 542 0.28
Minnesota 129.88 127.13 311 0.90
Mississippi 616.36 1,099.65 392 0.16
Missouri 159.91 179.87 394 0.44
Montana 244.13 199.56 126 2.07
Nebraska 275.29 325.47 178 1.17
Nevada 302.38 748.43 208 0.62
New Hampshire 212.98 234.99 144 1.95
New Jersey 139.44 161.63 395 0.46
New Mexico 355.71 408.09 242 0.69
New York 83.40 95.80 706 0.24
North Carolina 166.82 222.70 506 0.26
North Dakota 398.68 397.63 103 2.74
Ohio 89.50 111.53 573 0.37
Oklahoma 161.54 232.80 311 0.59
Oregon 286.32 190.06 258 0.55
Pennsylvania 95.50 98.91 654 0.26
Rhode Island a a 181 0.26
South Carolina 366.94 507.01 365 0.29
South Dakota 199.14 278.91 130 2.54
Tennessee 344.78 695.44 412 0.26
Texas 147.72 151.50 705 0.17
Utah 455.47 561.49 186 0.81
Vermont 183.79 365.04 132 2.04
Virginia 192.31 455.05 414 0.40
Washington 246.01 266.80 351 0.41
West Virginia 311.03 473.26 262 0.45
Wisconsin 125.65 98.95 362 0.62
Wyoming 233.94 427.82 90 2.50
Other/unknown . . . . . . 40 . . .
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
NOTE: . . . = not applicable.
a. Not applicable for suppressed value.
Table C-4b. Estimated standard errors for Table 3b
State Mean SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Median SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Number of SSI recipients aged 12–22 SEIE use rate (%)
Alabama 390.72 737.09 440 0.22
Alaska 478.58 a 108 1.26
Arizona 272.98 408.15 348 0.36
Arkansas 279.42 223.31 340 0.26
California 121.99 78.54 892 0.13
Colorado 399.22 667.67 244 0.60
Connecticut 267.62 129.19 243 0.73
Delaware 276.12 419.94 165 1.10
District of Columbia 611.03 975.74 185 0.65
Florida 167.45 264.20 758 0.14
Georgia 419.43 722.04 488 0.13
Hawaii 606.29 a 117 1.23
Idaho 579.25 860.80 188 0.75
Illinois 120.82 137.06 603 0.29
Indiana 184.05 219.37 386 0.44
Iowa 233.46 93.89 251 0.95
Kansas 200.63 264.77 233 0.92
Kentucky 272.16 528.32 440 0.23
Louisiana 372.67 456.44 479 0.18
Maine 596.43 763.59 188 0.68
Maryland 232.14 410.99 359 0.46
Massachusetts 179.13 235.94 400 0.47
Michigan 132.36 153.62 553 0.26
Minnesota 168.00 137.78 315 0.80
Mississippi 407.07 433.70 389 0.20
Missouri 184.08 250.11 395 0.42
Montana 332.57 138.09 130 1.87
Nebraska 329.88 312.33 175 1.14
Nevada 404.29 680.57 209 0.58
New Hampshire 328.53 455.44 149 1.39
New Jersey 131.56 159.13 403 0.45
New Mexico 372.13 311.30 248 0.59
New York 89.27 57.65 717 0.24
North Carolina 152.20 195.70 516 0.27
North Dakota 518.15 763.43 104 2.60
Ohio 107.18 126.20 578 0.36
Oklahoma 225.28 125.82 315 0.56
Oregon 275.83 172.55 262 0.52
Pennsylvania 90.20 143.23 674 0.26
Rhode Island 931.27 a 186 0.42
South Carolina 492.92 861.68 369 0.24
South Dakota 223.08 246.14 128 2.37
Tennessee 363.75 476.11 410 0.26
Texas 137.74 248.21 731 0.16
Utah 441.17 425.40 191 0.83
Vermont 251.72 588.34 138 1.99
Virginia 181.28 206.08 426 0.35
Washington 327.56 440.13 360 0.38
West Virginia 416.32 550.43 267 0.35
Wisconsin 133.63 150.37 367 0.58
Wyoming 316.55 a 85 2.00
Other/unknown . . . . . . 41 . . .
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
NOTE: . . . = not applicable.
a. Not applicable for suppressed value.
Table C-5. Estimated standard errors for Table 6
Number of months Age
12–15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
2004
1–3 4.97 3.00 2.46 1.93 2.04 2.13 2.22 3.45
4–6 4.20 2.66 2.26 1.81 2.06 2.16 2.73 3.66
7–9 1.99 1.77 1.72 1.38 1.37 1.78 1.77 2.76
10–12 3.15 1.39 1.82 1.25 1.73 2.15 2.43 1.75
2005
1–3 5.84 3.05 2.25 2.06 2.01 2.26 2.10 3.48
4–6 4.90 2.70 2.00 1.91 2.04 2.29 2.49 3.51
7–9 3.06 1.85 1.63 1.60 1.29 1.92 2.03 2.83
10–12 3.39 1.67 1.70 1.35 1.67 2.43 2.51 1.60
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Table C-6. Estimated standard errors for Table 7
Month Mean SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Median SEIE among SEIE recipients ($) Aggregate SEIE (thousands of dollars)
2004 2005 2004 2005 2004 2005
January 7.37 6.84 9.17 9.84 125 119
February 6.55 6.49 7.84 7.50 116 116
March 6.81 7.21 8.68 6.51 123 130
April 7.32 7.09 7.46 6.78 138 135
May 6.28 6.38 7.19 7.02 124 125
June 7.26 7.91 10.40 9.85 133 140
July 9.38 9.70 9.95 11.44 154 164
August 8.47 8.48 10.72 11.19 143 149
September 7.27 7.78 7.89 10.21 114 126
October 6.59 6.88 7.48 6.67 108 114
November 6.23 6.58 6.15 5.46 104 114
December 6.52 7.26 7.59 7.04 109 121
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
Table C-7. Estimated standard errors for Table 8
Month Net change in—
Student status Earnings status SSI eligibility
2004
February 38 102 129
March 23 94 121
April 35 105 127
May 33 95 130
June 116 171 162
July 146 199 184
August 73 99 137
September 70 127 187
October 47 132 172
November 37 103 130
December 27 98 118
2005
January 56 120 159
February 39 101 133
March 37 99 123
April 39 117 140
May 28 90 128
June 109 157 156
July 129 191 189
August 73 92 135
September 70 135 192
October 42 131 168
November 33 111 137
December 19 92 118
SOURCE: Author's calculations based on Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Record (custom extract), 10 percent data.
NOTE: Standard errors for the other statistics presented in Table 8 are available in Tables C-1a and C-1b.

Appendix D: Notes on Chart 7 and Table 8 Categories

Chart 7 and Table 8 break down the monthly changes in the count of SSI recipients with SEIE according to the factors causing gain or loss of SEIE status. The analysis classifies persons gaining SEIE status only according to the last criteria to be met and persons losing SEIE only according to the first criteria they cease to meet. In other words, it classifies persons according to the factors that most proximately bring about the gain or loss of SEIE.

Although a gain or loss of SSI-with-SEIE status can result from a change in any 1 of 15 or more eligibility factor combinations, this analysis lumps these combinations of factors into just five categories both to ease visual interpretation and to keep standard errors in check.17 The following principles guided the creation of the categories:

  1. Materiality. Combinations of factors that account for only a small number of gains or losses should be lumped together to the greatest extent reasonable. Losses of SEIE involving attainment of age 22 are all lumped together, no matter what other criteria concurrently cease to be met, partly for this reason. Similar reasoning applies to gains and losses involving the annual limit, since relatively few people reach the annual limit each month. Except when attainment of age 22 is involved, losses of SEIE due to any combination of factors involving the annual limit are all lumped together.
  2. Permanence. If a change in one eligibility factor is more "permanent" than a change in others, then any combinations involving this relatively permanent factor should be lumped together. For example, attainment of age 22 causes permanent loss of SEIE, affording yet another reason for lumping into a single category all losses of SEIE involving attainment of age 22. The annual limit has a secondary degree of permanence, in that once someone reaches the annual limit, SEIE cannot resume until the next calendar year. This provides a second reason for lumping together all SEIE gains and losses that involve the annual limit but not attainment of age 22.
  3. Seasonality. If seasonal patterns in one eligibility factor seem to drive seasonal patterns in the gains and losses of SEIE resulting from several combinations of factors, then these combinations should be isolated in their own category, separate from other combinations of factors that do not exhibit the same seasonal behavior. For example, concurrent changes in student status and earnings were put into the "student status" category because a visual inspection suggested that the seasonal pattern of the concurrent changes is more similar to that of student status than to that of earnings. The same reasoning was applied to concurrent changes in SSI eligibility and earnings or student status, which appeared to follow the latter two factors' seasonal patterns.
  4. Causality. If a change in one eligibility factor causes a change in some combination of factors, then this combination can't be categorized separately from the causative factor. According to the SSI definition, student status is lost upon attainment of age 22; thus among persons turning 22, those who cease to attend school are, from the data used for this article, indistinguishable from those who continue to attend. This makes the lumping of concurrent age and student status changes into the "age" category the only viable option.

Five nonoverlapping categories result: (1) SSI eligibility alone; (2) earnings, alone or concurrently with SSI eligibility; (3) student status, alone or concurrently with earnings or SSI eligibility; (4) annual limit status, alone or concurrently with student status, earnings, or SSI eligibility; and (5) age status, alone or concurrently with any other factors.

A change in category (1), the "SSI eligibility" category, represents either a first month with SSI payment due on a newly filed SSI claim or a subsequent suspension or reinstatement of SSI payments. Persons who were already working and attending school and gained SEIE upon becoming newly eligible for SSI should fall into this category. An SEIE amount can be posted to an SSI record regardless of whether SSI payment is due for the month in question; however, this article focuses on just those person-months with SSI payment due as well as SEIE posted. Consequently, Chart 7 registers a loss in category (1) for each person whose SSI payments are suspended and a gain in category (1) for each person whose SSI payments are reinstated, provided they meet the earnings, student status, annual limit status, and age criteria for receipt of SEIE both before and after the suspension or reinstatement.

Changes in category (5), the "age" category, by definition involve attainment of age 22 and as such always result in loss of SEIE status. Changes in category (4), the "annual limit" category, between June and December necessarily result in loss of SEIE, while those in January necessarily result in gain of SEIE. Changes in category (4) cannot occur between February and May because the monthly limit makes reaching the annual limit prior to May impossible. Changes in category (2), the "earnings" category, refer to a gain of SEIE status due to commencement of positive earnings or a loss of SEIE due to cessation of earnings. Changes in categories (1), (2), or (3) (the "SSI eligibility," "earnings," and "student status" categories) can be gains or losses; for each of these categories, the chart shows the net change, that is, gains attributable to that category minus losses attributable. Gains in category (3), the "student status" category, could involve persons entering grade 7 (the lowest grade that confers student status for SSI purposes) or persons returning to school after a gap in attendance (other than a regular school vacation). If, prior to April 2005, someone lost or gained SEIE recipiency because of child status (that is, head of household or marital status), then the change would appear in category (3), the "student status" category. (The portion of student status changes attributable to child status, however, is negligible.)

Notes

1 The concept of a floor on "total income" can only roughly describe the role of the SSI program, however. The SSI payment calculation takes into account food and shelter received "in kind" as well as certain family members' incomes; these items complicate the concept of SSI recipients' "total income." Also, individuals may receive assistance from other programs—such as food stamps—without their SSI payments being affected.

2 An SSI recipient is considered "under age 22" through the month when age 22 is attained. Under Social Security Administration (SSA) rules, age 22 is attained on the day preceding the 22nd birthday.

3 For purposes of the SSI program, "aged" means 65 or older. Because of SEIE's age-22 cutoff, those who qualify necessarily fall in the "disabled" and "blind" categories. The SSI program defines "disabled" as having a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that is expected either to last at least 12 consecutive months from the date of onset or to result in death and that (1) for persons under age 18, results in marked and severe functional limitations or (2) for persons age 18 or older, prevents any substantial gainful activity (SGA). (For a discussion of SGA, see note 7.) The SSI program defines "blind" as having central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens, or tunnel vision of 20 degrees or less. These are the basic definitions; several additional complexities arise in their application.

4 The SSI payment computation summarized here is relevant for most (if not all) of the SEIE participants for whom data were collected for this article but omits some complexities (for instance state supplementation rules, which vary from state to state). For more information on SSI, see SSA (2007, 1–11). For detailed information on the SEIE, including examples of SEIE computations, see SSA (2009b).

5 Potential SEIE recipients include not only persons who are eligible for SSI but also deemors and ineligible children of deemors. For a discussion of deeming, see SSA (2007, 5–6) or, for more detail, see SSA (2009c). For a discussion of ineligible children and the SEIE, see SSA (2002).

6 For specifics on the definition of "regular school attendance," see SSA (2009a).

7 SGA is integral to the initial disability determination for SSI. Inability to engage in SGA is an important part of the definition of disability for adult claimants, and a child claimant is found not disabled if actually engaging in SGA. Once initial eligibility for SSI has been established, performance of SGA does not, by itself, cause SSI to terminate. SSI can be terminated on the basis of "medical improvement," however, and performance of SGA can trigger a continuing disability review (a review of the medical evidence to determine whether medical improvement has occurred). The dollar amount of earnings serves as a rough indicator of whether certain work activity qualifies as SGA, although for persons claiming SSI on the basis of blindness, there is no SGA limit.

8 Under the definition of "age in a given calendar year" chosen for this article, a person is 22 years old in the year containing the first month in which he or she is, due to attainment of age 22, no longer eligible for the SEIE. Consequently, in tables and charts that show measures of SEIE use broken down by age, any declines in SEIE use among persons classified as 21 cannot be attributed to the age-22 cutoff.

9 See Table 25 in SSA (2005a) and Table 23 in SSA (2007).

10 See Chart 2 and Table 2 in SSA (2005b, 2006).

11 See Chart 6 and Table 9 in SSA (2005b, 2006).

12 In reality, SEIE amounts applied during months when someone is ineligible for SSI do count toward the SEIE annual limit. However, Table 5, like most of this article, counts only those SEIE amounts that applied to income earned in a month when an SSI payment was due. Consequently, the number of persons counted as having reached the annual limit between May and November in Table 5 is somewhat smaller than the actual number of persons who were ineligible for SEIE in December because of the annual limit.

13 See Table 15 in SSA (2005b, 2006) for December statistics on PASS, IRWE, and BWE participation.

14 The administrative data do not indicate the type of school attended (for example, high school, college, or vocational school) or the type of work done (for example, competitive labor market, school-related employment program, or sheltered workshop) by the SEIE recipient.

15 Reaching the calendar-year SEIE limit in May in Table 5 corresponds to losing the SEIE in June in Chart 7 and Table 8. Reaching the calendar-year SEIE limit in December in Table 5 does not itself result in loss of SEIE because eligibility resumes the following month with the start of a new calendar year.

In some months, the number of losses of SEIE in the "annual limit" category in Chart 7 and Table 8 is slightly smaller than the corresponding number of persons shown reaching the annual limit in Table 5. In other months, it is slightly larger.The first type of discrepancy arises because, in Chart 7 and Table 8, a person who ceased to receive SEIE upon attaining age 22 and reaching the annual limit in the same month is assigned to the "age" category rather than the "annual limit" category.

The second type of discrepancy arises because for Chart 7 and Table 8, an SEIE amount counts toward the annual limit even if it applied to income earned in a month when no SSI payment was due. This departure from the approach taken in Table 5 (see note 12) and elsewhere in this article was necessary to make overall net month-to-month changes in the number of SSI recipients with SEIE come out the same whether calculated from the numbers in Table 7 or Table 8. Table 7 shows the monthly number of persons having SEIE posted and SSI payment due. Even though it does not reflect SEIE amounts posted in months with no SSI due, Table 7 does reflect nonreceipt of SEIE by persons who, counting such months' SEIE amounts, have reached the annual limit.

16 See, for example, Cochran (1963).

17 Splitting up categories that don't account for many gains or losses of SSI-with-SEIE status could cause the sampling variability to obscure the true seasonal patterns. This is a statistical point; splitting up an estimated total into many subtotals—rather than just a few—tends to make the standard errors of the subtotals larger relative to the subtotals themselves.

References

Cochran, William G. 1963. Sampling Techniques, 2nd edition. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

[SSA] Social Security Administration. 2002. Program Operations Manual System (POMS) Section SI 01320.185: Deeming—earned income of an ineligible child who is a student. Available at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0501320185!opendocument.

———. 2005a. SSI Annual Statistical Report, 2004. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Available at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/ssi_asr/2004/index.html.

———. 2005b. SSI Disabled Recipients Who Work, 2004. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Available at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/ssi_workers/2004/index.html.

———. 2006. SSI Disabled Recipients Who Work, 2005. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Available at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/ssi_workers/2005/index.html.

———. 2007. SSI Annual Statistical Report, 2005. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Available at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/ssi_asr/2005/index.html.

———. 2009a. Program Operations Manual System (POMS) Section SI 00501.020.D: Student—SSI. Available at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0500501020!opendocument.

———. 2009b. Program Operations Manual System (POMS) Section SI 00820.510: Student Earned Income Exclusion. Available at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0500820510!opendocument.

———. 2009c. Program Operations Manual System (POMS) Section SI 01310.000: Deeming, general. Available at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0501310000!opendocument.