Characteristics of Noninstitutionalized DI and SSI Program Participants, 2013 Update

by
Research and Statistics Note No. 2015-02 (released September 2015)

Michelle Stegman Bailey and Jeffrey Hemmeter are with the Office of Program Development, Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, Social Security Administration.

Acknowledgments: The authors thank Paul Davies, Howard Iams, and Joyce Nicholas for their helpful comments on this note.

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

Introduction

Selected Abbreviations
DI Disability Insurance
SIPP Survey of Income and Program Participation
SNAP Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
SSA Social Security Administration
SSI Supplemental Security Income

The Social Security Administration (SSA) produces several statistical publications based on the data used to administer the Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. Although these data are extensive, they do not capture many of the economic and demographic characteristics of program participants. To better understand those beneficiary populations, SSA matches information from its administrative records with data collected by the Census Bureau in the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and presents the results in notes such as this. DeCesaro and Hemmeter (2008) contains tables describing the characteristics of SSI and DI participants based on 2002 data, Bailey and Hemmeter (2014) updates those tables with 2010 data, and this note updates the tables with 2013 data.

Data

The SIPP is a household survey of the noninstitutionalized resident population of the United States. The survey broadly measures the economic situations of households, paying particular attention to the role of government transfer and service programs. Within a given SIPP wave, each participating household is tracked for several years with interviews conducted at regular intervals. In addition to the core questions about income and program participation, each interview includes questions from a rotating module on a topic such as marital history or education.

The estimates in this note are based on samples of DI beneficiaries and SSI recipients from the public-use data file for the 2008 SIPP panel, the same file used in the 2014 note to produce the 2010 estimates. For ease of comparison, the chart and table numbers in this update correspond with those used in the previous edition.1 However, the definitions of some of the characteristics differ from those used in the earlier tables. Those changes were necessary to avoid disclosing information about individual sample members.

SIPP data are matched to Social Security administrative records based on the respondent's validated Social Security number. For individuals with valid numbers, we use the administrative records to determine whether they received DI benefits or SSI payments and, if so, the amounts received. For sample members without available matching administrative records, we use self-reported values from the SIPP. We identify individuals as DI beneficiaries and SSI recipients if they received a payment in the final month of the 4-month SIPP reference period.2 Consistent with the 2014 edition of this note, we define SSI receipt only in terms of federally administered payments; that is, we do not include SSI state supplements in our definition. In tabulations of SSI recipients' Medicaid coverage, we recode the SIPP Medicaid variable to reflect the automatic Medicaid coverage of SSI recipients in certain states under Section 1634 of the Social Security Act.

Our analysis is based on follow-up interviews of members of a sample initially chosen to be representative of the 2008 noninstitutionalized population. We use data collected from four rotation groups in wave 15 of the 2008 SIPP panel, covering January through July 2013. The first rotation group was interviewed in May and provided information for January through April. The second, third, and fourth groups were respectively interviewed in June, July, and August, and likewise provided information for the preceding 4 months.

We use the data for those 4-month reference periods to measure income, poverty, and SSI and DI benefit amounts. All other demographic characteristics are based on SIPP data for the fourth month of the reference period (that is, April, May, June, or July, depending on the rotation group).

The current sample includes 2,589 DI beneficiaries and 2,162 SSI recipients—a slight reduction from the sample size for our previous update (2,644 DI beneficiaries and 2,207 SSI recipients from waves 7 and 8 of the 2008 SIPP, covering September–December 2010). About three-quarters of our wave 15 sample members were included in the sample for that update. We did not fully assess the causes of this attrition, but some of it is presumably due to individuals aging out of DI eligibility and becoming retired-worker beneficiaries instead. Additionally, some individuals will have died over the course of the survey panel. Other individuals will have newly entered the study population after experiencing recent health or financial shocks. We cannot determine whether or to what extent these changes in our sample affect its representativeness of the full population of noninstitutionalized program participants.

We weight the SIPP results using Social Security administrative data on the total number of DI beneficiaries and SSI participants.3 Because SSA data include institutionalized beneficiaries and SIPP results include only the noninstitutionalized population, we adjust the SSA program totals by the estimated percentages of DI beneficiaries and SSI participants residing in institutions.4

Discussion of the Estimates

This section highlights selected estimates from the tables and charts and notes key changes from the 2010 estimates. Tables 1–7 present the estimates for DI beneficiaries; Tables 8–14 present the estimates for SSI recipients. Changes to the presentation since the last update, both affecting DI beneficiaries, consist of the addition of two personal-income categories in Table 1 and a new table showing a measure of income adequacy if disabled-worker benefits were to be reduced by 19 percent (Table 6B). A 19 percent reduction corresponds with the expected DI Trust Fund shortfall should no legislative change occur by late 2016.5

DI Beneficiaries

DI beneficiaries in this sample comprise disabled workers, disabled widow(er)s, and disabled adult children. Because 91 percent of the beneficiaries in this sample were disabled workers, the tables present information separately for that subgroup, although we do not discuss those results in the text below. For convenience and consistency with other publications, we refer to all these groups as DI beneficiaries regardless of whether their benefit is paid from the Disability Insurance or the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, as long as their eligibility is based on disability.6

Although DI beneficiaries are eligible for Medicare, coverage does not begin until 24 months after the first month of benefit receipt. In 2013, 64 percent of DI beneficiaries reported Medicare coverage (alone or in combination with other coverage), 45 percent reported Medicaid coverage, 31 percent reported private health insurance, and 7 percent reported having no health insurance (Chart 1). About 27 percent of beneficiaries held joint Medicare and Medicaid coverage and 20 percent had only Medicare coverage (Table 1). Many of those who reported Medicaid coverage were likely to be among the 21 percent of disabled beneficiaries who also received SSI payments. Other forms of income included earnings (received by 11 percent of DI beneficiaries), property income from all assets (received by 26 percent), and other public assistance (received by 32 percent). The percentage of DI beneficiaries receiving property income and income from unspecified other sources declined from 2010 levels by 4 and 6 percentage points, respectively.

Chart 1.
DI beneficiaries, by type of health insurance coverage, 2013 (in percent)
Bar chart. Four bars. Medicaid = 45.1%. Medicare = 63.7%. Private = 31.2%. None = 7.4%.
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15.
NOTES: Individuals may have more than one type of coverage.
Data are for the month preceding the SIPP interview date. Interviews took place May–August 2013.
Table 1. Number and percentage distribution of DI beneficiaries, by selected demographic characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Number Percent
All disabled beneficiaries Disabled workers All disabled beneficiaries Disabled workers
All beneficiaries 9,598,885 8,715,938 100.0 100.0
Sex
Men 4,779,924 4,254,310 49.8 48.8
Women 4,818,960 4,461,628 50.2 51.2
Race
White 6,795,287 6,140,020 70.8 70.4
Black 2,274,234 2,085,064 23.7 23.9
Other 529,363 490,854 5.5 5.6
Ethnicity
Hispanic 1,173,708 1,067,237 12.2 12.2
Non-Hispanic 8,425,176 7,648,701 87.8 87.8
Marital status
Married 3,602,493 3,558,592 37.5 40.8
Widowed 876,822 775,100 9.1 8.9
Divorced or separated 2,466,140 2,365,288 25.7 27.1
Never married 2,653,430 2,016,958 27.6 23.1
Years of education
0–11 1,288,561 1,001,673 13.4 11.5
12 3,876,112 3,389,083 40.4 38.9
13–15 2,832,188 2,760,305 29.5 31.7
16 or more 1,602,024 1,564,877 16.7 18.0
Health insurance
Medicaid only 1,354,586 1,218,982 14.1 14.0
Medicare only 1,947,339 1,805,151 20.3 20.7
Private only 1,202,911 1,160,292 12.5 13.3
Medicaid and Medicare 2,580,971 2,136,450 26.9 24.5
Medicaid and private 210,030 194,983 2.2 2.2
Medicare and private 1,403,460 1,363,858 14.6 15.6
Medicaid, Medicare, and private 186,261 160,149 1.9 1.8
None 713,325 676,073 7.4 7.8
Source of income a
Public assistance
Supplemental Security Income 1,979,617 1,542,018 20.6 17.7
Other b 3,075,370 2,741,197 32.0 31.5
Earnings 1,098,938 922,627 11.4 10.6
Property income 2,531,605 2,403,754 26.4 27.6
Other income 2,187,715 2,096,757 22.8 24.1
Veteran status
Veteran 961,286 956,584 10.0 11.0
Nonveteran 8,637,598 7,759,353 90.0 89.0
Total 4-month personal income c ($)
Less than 1,500 79,486 71,192 0.8 0.8
1,500–1,999 84,079 44,382 0.9 0.5
2,000–2,499 112,402 103,092 1.2 1.2
2,500–2,999 1,095,296 904,437 11.4 10.4
3,000–3,499 880,511 757,795 9.2 8.7
3,500–3,999 1,248,727 1,136,336 13.0 13.0
4,000–4,499 782,871 743,597 8.2 8.5
4,500–4,999 765,040 660,764 8.0 7.6
5,000–7,499 2,282,291 2,088,268 23.8 24.0
7,500–9,999 887,684 861,728 9.2 9.9
10,000 or more 1,380,497 1,344,347 14.4 15.4
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: "DI beneficiaries" includes disabled workers, disabled widow(er)s, and disabled adult children but excludes nondisabled individuals receiving DI benefits as dependents of disabled workers.
Unless otherwise noted, data are for the month preceding the SIPP interview date. Interviews took place May–August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
a. Individuals may be counted in more than one category.
b. Other public assistance includes state SSI, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, General Assistance, Women Infant and Children benefits, food stamps, food assistance, clothing assistance, short-term assistance, transportation assistance, and other welfare.
c. Data are for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date.

About half of DI beneficiaries had 4-month personal income between $2,500 and $4,999, almost a quarter had income between $5,000 and $7,499, and nearly another quarter had income of $7,500 or more. DI benefits were an important income source, constituting at least 75 percent of personal income for 3 out of 5 DI beneficiaries (Table 2). A higher percentage of beneficiaries relied on DI benefits for 100 percent of their income in 2013 (36 percent) than did so in 2010 (31 percent).

Table 2. DI beneficiaries, by percentage of personal income attributable to Social Security benefits and selected demographic characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Number Percent Percentage distribution
Total Less than 50% of income 50–74% of income 75–99% of income 100% of income
  All disabled beneficiaries
Total 9,598,885 100.0 100.0 19.2 21.0 23.4 36.4
Sex
Men 4,779,924 49.8 100.0 23.0 17.4 23.3 36.3
Women 4,818,960 50.2 100.0 15.4 24.6 23.5 36.5
Age
Under 40 1,316,779 13.7 100.0 29.8 18.2 22.6 29.5
40–49 1,566,894 16.3 100.0 14.1 19.2 25.3 41.4
50–59 3,598,579 37.5 100.0 17.7 17.2 23.6 41.5
60 or older 3,116,633 32.5 100.0 18.9 27.6 22.5 30.9
Race
White 6,795,287 70.8 100.0 19.8 16.7 24.3 39.2
Black 2,274,234 23.7 100.0 16.6 33.1 20.3 30.0
Other 529,363 5.5 100.0 22.7 24.4 23.8 29.1
Ethnicity
Hispanic 1,173,708 12.2 100.0 20.1 15.6 23.4 40.9
Non-Hispanic 8,425,176 87.8 100.0 19.1 21.8 23.4 35.8
Marital status
Married 3,602,493 37.5 100.0 17.8 16.3 24.8 41.1
Widowed 876,822 9.1 100.0 13.8 54.0 10.7 21.4
Divorced or separated 2,466,140 25.7 100.0 18.6 19.7 25.1 36.7
Never married 2,653,430 27.6 100.0 23.4 17.8 24.0 34.8
Years of education
0–11 1,288,561 13.4 100.0 21.9 17.7 16.9 43.5
12 3,876,112 40.4 100.0 17.4 20.4 24.3 37.9
13–15 2,832,188 29.5 100.0 18.3 25.6 21.8 34.3
16 or more 1,602,024 16.7 100.0 23.0 17.1 29.1 30.7
Living arrangement
Lives alone 2,577,497 26.9 100.0 18.4 22.3 25.5 33.8
Lives with relatives 6,461,845 67.3 100.0 18.9 21.3 22.4 37.3
Lives only with nonrelatives 559,543 5.8 100.0 25.8 11.9 24.4 37.9
  Disabled workers
Total 8,715,938 90.8 100.0 18.3 20.9 23.4 37.4
Sex
Men 4,254,310 44.3 100.0 21.5 17.1 23.2 38.2
Women 4,461,628 46.5 100.0 15.3 24.6 23.6 36.5
Age
Under 40 986,652 10.3 100.0 29.7 18.9 21.1 30.3
40–49 1,457,750 15.2 100.0 14.5 18.4 24.9 42.2
50–59 3,451,230 36.0 100.0 16.9 17.3 24.0 41.8
60 or older 2,820,306 29.4 100.0 18.0 27.4 22.7 31.9
Race
White 6,140,020 64.0 100.0 19.0 16.7 24.0 40.3
Black 2,085,064 21.7 100.0 15.3 32.8 21.6 30.4
Other 490,854 5.1 100.0 22.2 24.0 23.2 30.6
Ethnicity
Hispanic 1,067,237 11.1 100.0 18.7 16.0 21.4 43.9
Non-Hispanic 7,648,701 79.7 100.0 18.3 21.6 23.7 36.4
Marital status
Married 3,558,592 37.1 100.0 17.7 16.3 24.7 41.3
Widowed 775,100 8.1 100.0 12.8 58.0 9.7 19.5
Divorced or separated 2,365,288 24.6 100.0 18.1 19.5 24.8 37.5
Never married 2,016,958 21.0 100.0 21.8 16.5 24.5 37.1
Years of education
0–11 1,001,673 10.4 100.0 19.1 13.8 18.0 49.1
12 3,389,083 35.3 100.0 16.6 20.6 23.6 39.2
13–15 2,760,305 28.8 100.0 17.7 26.1 21.6 34.6
16 or more 1,564,877 16.3 100.0 22.7 17.1 29.5 30.7
Living arrangement
Lives alone 2,237,701 23.3 100.0 17.0 21.3 26.1 35.7
Lives with relatives 5,992,117 62.4 100.0 18.2 21.6 22.3 37.9
Lives only with nonrelatives 486,120 5.1 100.0 26.2 11.4 24.3 38.0
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: "DI beneficiaries" includes disabled workers, disabled widow(er)s, and disabled adult children but excludes nondisabled individuals receiving DI benefits as dependents of disabled workers.
Personal income is calculated for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. All other data are for the month preceding the interview date. Interviews took place May-August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

Nearly half of DI beneficiaries had 4-month family income of less than $10,000 and more than half owned their own home (Table 3). About 34 percent of DI beneficiary households relied on food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). Table 4 shows that the two largest sources of family income for DI beneficiaries were their Social Security benefits (58 percent) and earnings (24 percent).

Table 3. Number and percentage distribution of DI beneficiaries, by household and family characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Number Percent
All disabled beneficiaries Disabled workers All disabled beneficiaries Disabled workers
All beneficiaries 9,598,885 8,715,938 100.0 100.0
Household type
Family
Married couple 3,929,566 3,719,743 40.9 42.7
Male householder 598,133 551,074 6.2 6.3
Female householder 1,783,126 1,579,737 18.6 18.1
Nonfamily or group quarters 3,288,059 2,865,383 34.3 32.9
Homeownership status a
Owned 5,275,066 4,931,032 55.0 56.6
Not owned
Public housing 1,092,588 927,902 11.4 10.6
Other 3,231,231 2,857,004 33.6 32.8
Household receipt of assistance b
Energy 420,332 363,468 4.4 4.2
Housing 233,026 213,464 2.4 2.4
Food (SNAP) 3,284,550 2,941,639 34.2 33.8
Household size
1 2,577,497 2,237,701 26.9 25.7
2 3,436,428 3,246,834 35.8 37.3
3–4 2,774,058 2,521,183 28.9 28.9
5 or more 810,902 710,219 8.4 8.1
Family size
1 3,364,087 2,927,430 35.0 33.6
2 2,965,540 2,824,734 30.9 32.4
3–4 2,559,166 2,325,474 26.7 26.7
5 or more 710,092 638,300 7.4 7.3
Children younger than age 18 in family
None 7,694,194 6,939,672 80.2 79.6
1 1,058,490 989,507 11.0 11.4
2 556,407 522,673 5.8 6.0
3 192,392 173,466 2.0 2.0
4 or more 97,401 90,620 1.0 1.0
Social Security c beneficiaries in household
1 6,271,863 5,722,668 65.3 65.7
2 2,309,735 2,105,438 24.1 24.2
3 or more 1,017,286 887,831 10.6 10.2
Total 4-month household income d ($)
Less than 2,500 59,218 40,399 0.6 0.5
2,500–4,999 1,789,712 1,522,532 18.6 17.5
5,000–7,499 1,212,449 1,091,450 12.6 12.5
7,500–9,999 987,332 894,979 10.3 10.3
10,000–14,999 1,540,818 1,420,456 16.1 16.3
15,000–19,999 1,670,967 1,579,828 17.4 18.1
20,000 or more 2,338,389 2,166,294 24.4 24.9
Total 4-month family income d ($)
Less than 2,500 77,389 57,130 0.8 0.7
2,500–4,999 2,113,602 1,794,942 22.0 20.6
5,000–7,499 1,400,545 1,257,761 14.6 14.4
7,500–9,999 951,365 870,493 9.9 10.0
10,000–14,999 1,404,177 1,311,405 14.6 15.0
15,000–19,999 1,588,132 1,502,045 16.5 17.2
20,000 or more 2,063,675 1,922,162 21.5 22.1
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: "DI beneficiaries" includes disabled workers, disabled widow(er)s, and disabled adult children but excludes nondisabled individuals receiving DI benefits as dependents of disabled workers.
A "family" is two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together. A "household" includes related family members and any unrelated persons, such as lodgers, foster children, wards, or employees, who share the housing unit. A household may comprise a person living alone in a housing unit or a group of unrelated persons sharing a housing unit as partners.
Unless otherwise noted, data are for the month preceding the SIPP interview month. Interviews took place May–August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
a. Refers to ownership by any member of the household, not necessarily the beneficiary.
b. Individuals may be counted in more than one category.
c. Includes disability, old-age, and survivors benefits.
d. Data are for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date.
Table 4. Percentage distribution of family income of DI beneficiaries, by income source and selected demographic characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Total Social Security a Public assistance Earnings Property income Other
SSI Other
  All disabled beneficiaries
Total 100.0 58.3 4.9 1.3 24.3 0.4 10.8
Sex
Men 100.0 60.1 4.4 1.1 22.3 0.3 11.8
Women 100.0 56.4 5.4 1.5 26.3 0.6 9.8
Age
Younger than 40 100.0 52.5 8.4 1.7 27.6 0.1 9.7
40–49 100.0 59.8 6.3 1.6 24.5 0.2 7.6
50–59 100.0 60.6 3.5 1.2 23.3 0.5 10.9
60 or older 100.0 57.3 4.3 1.0 24.0 0.7 12.7
Race
White 100.0 58.4 3.9 1.1 24.4 0.6 11.6
Black 100.0 58.6 7.9 1.8 24.2 0.1 7.4
Other 100.0 55.3 4.0 1.1 24.0 0.6 15.0
Ethnicity
Hispanic 100.0 58.1 6.5 1.5 25.0 0.4 8.5
Non-Hispanic 100.0 58.3 4.7 1.2 24.2 0.5 11.1
Marital status
Married 100.0 45.4 2.1 0.5 37.6 0.7 13.7
Widowed 100.0 49.9 6.2 1.5 34.2 0.2 8.0
Divorced or separated 100.0 72.3 5.9 1.8 9.6 0.3 10.1
Never married 100.0 65.5 7.3 1.8 16.6 0.3 8.5
Years of education
0–11 100.0 63.1 9.8 1.7 19.9 0.1 5.4
12 100.0 58.5 4.7 1.4 25.0 0.4 10.0
13–15 100.0 57.4 4.9 1.2 24.5 0.4 11.6
16 or more 100.0 55.6 1.5 0.8 26.1 1.0 15.0
Living arrangement
Lives alone 100.0 77.9 6.1 1.9 4.5 0.3 9.3
Lives with relatives 100.0 48.9 4.2 1.0 33.6 0.5 11.8
Lives only with nonrelatives 100.0 76.2 7.0 1.5 8.4 0.4 6.5
  Disabled workers
Total 100.0 58.1 4.2 1.2 24.8 0.5 11.2
Sex
Men 100.0 60.7 3.4 1.0 22.2 0.3 12.4
Women 100.0 55.7 5.0 1.5 27.4 0.6 9.8
Age
Younger than 40 100.0 51.8 7.2 1.8 28.7 0.1 10.4
40–49 100.0 60.4 6.3 1.5 23.8 0.2 7.8
50–59 100.0 60.6 3.2 1.1 23.8 0.5 10.8
60 or older 100.0 56.1 3.2 1.0 25.3 0.7 13.7
Race
White 100.0 58.3 3.1 1.0 25.0 0.6 12.0
Black 100.0 58.3 7.4 1.9 24.6 0.1 7.7
Other 100.0 54.8 4.1 1.0 24.2 0.6 15.3
Ethnicity
Hispanic 100.0 58.8 5.6 1.4 24.9 0.4 8.9
Non-Hispanic 100.0 58.0 4.0 1.2 24.8 0.5 11.5
Marital status
Married 100.0 45.4 2.1 0.5 37.5 0.7 13.8
Widowed 100.0 46.8 6.0 1.5 38.2 0.1 7.4
Divorced or separated 100.0 72.6 4.9 1.8 10.0 0.3 10.4
Never married 100.0 67.9 6.3 1.9 14.7 0.3 8.9
Years of education
0–11 100.0 63.8 7.9 1.7 20.8 0.1 5.7
12 100.0 58.1 3.8 1.4 25.9 0.4 10.4
13–15 100.0 57.5 4.9 1.1 24.3 0.4 11.8
16 or more 100.0 55.7 1.5 0.8 25.9 0.9 15.2
Living arrangement
Lives alone 100.0 78.9 4.6 1.9 4.1 0.4 10.1
Lives with relatives 100.0 48.9 3.9 1.0 33.9 0.5 11.8
Lives only with nonrelatives 100.0 76.1 6.0 1.5 8.5 0.4 7.5
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: "DI beneficiaries" includes disabled workers, disabled widow(er)s, and disabled adult children but excludes nondisabled individuals receiving DI benefits as dependents of disabled workers.
A "family" is two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.
Family income is for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. All other data are for the month preceding the interview date. Interviews took place May–August 2013.
a. Includes disability, old-age, and survivor benefits.

Although 29 percent of DI beneficiaries had family income at or above 300 percent of the poverty threshold, nearly 20 percent were in poverty (Table 5). DI beneficiaries were more likely to have family income below the poverty threshold if they were women, younger than 40, black, divorced or separated, or never married. The proportions of DI beneficiaries with family income above 300 percent of the poverty threshold differed widely by educational attainment. Only 11 percent of those with fewer than 12 years of education had family income above 300 percent of the threshold, compared with 43 percent of those with 16 years or more of education (Chart 2).

Table 5. Percentage distribution of DI beneficiaries, by poverty status and selected demographic characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Total Family income relative to poverty threshold
Less than 100% 100–124% 125–149% 150–199% 200–299% 300% or more
  All disabled beneficiaries
Total 9,598,885 19.7 9.8 8.3 14.0 19.1 29.1
Sex
Men 4,779,924 16.6 10.5 9.2 15.0 19.0 29.7
Women 4,818,960 22.7 9.2 7.4 12.9 19.1 28.6
Age
Under 40 1,316,779 24.4 9.7 11.6 15.9 19.8 18.6
40–49 1,566,894 21.6 12.7 10.0 13.0 18.6 24.0
50–59 3,598,579 18.3 11.5 8.4 15.4 17.1 29.2
60 or older 3,116,633 18.3 6.5 6.0 11.9 21.1 36.1
Race
White 6,795,287 16.9 10.2 8.5 14.1 19.3 31.0
Black 2,274,234 28.3 8.7 7.7 13.7 18.4 23.3
Other 529,363 18.5 10.4 8.6 13.6 18.4 30.6
Ethnicity
Hispanic 1,173,708 21.9 5.8 9.9 21.6 19.7 21.1
Non-Hispanic 8,425,176 19.4 10.4 8.1 12.9 19.0 30.3
Marital status
Married 3,602,493 8.2 4.9 5.3 13.0 24.3 44.3
Widowed 876,822 14.0 8.7 8.1 9.1 25.4 34.8
Divorced or separated 2,466,140 32.0 11.7 9.9 16.5 12.4 17.6
Never married 2,653,430 25.7 15.2 11.0 14.6 16.0 17.5
Years of education
0–11 1,288,561 31.6 13.8 12.1 17.6 13.9 10.9
12 3,876,112 21.8 9.9 8.3 12.3 23.2 24.5
13–15 2,832,188 15.9 9.9 8.5 14.7 15.0 36.1
16 or more 1,602,024 11.7 6.3 5.0 13.9 20.4 42.7
  Disabled workers
Total 8,715,938 18.5 9.7 8.0 13.9 19.3 30.7
Sex
Men 4,254,310 15.4 10.5 8.8 14.8 19.2 31.3
Women 4,461,628 21.4 8.9 7.1 13.1 19.3 30.2
Age
Under 40 986,652 25.7 7.9 11.7 16.9 18.8 19.1
40–49 1,457,750 22.5 13.3 9.8 12.8 17.7 23.8
50–59 3,451,230 18.2 11.3 7.7 15.9 17.2 29.7
60 or older 2,820,306 14.3 6.4 6.0 11.0 22.7 39.6
Race
White 6,140,020 15.5 9.8 8.0 14.4 19.4 33.0
Black 2,085,064 27.3 9.0 7.8 12.4 19.6 24.0
Other 490,854 18.9 11.2 8.5 13.4 16.6 31.5
Ethnicity
Hispanic 1,067,237 19.8 6.4 10.0 22.0 19.5 22.4
Non-Hispanic 7,648,701 18.3 10.1 7.7 12.8 19.2 31.9
Marital status
Married 3,558,592 8.2 4.8 5.4 12.9 24.4 44.3
Widowed 775,100 8.9 8.5 6.7 9.0 27.4 39.3
Divorced or separated 2,365,288 30.0 12.0 9.7 17.0 12.9 18.3
Never married 2,016,958 26.8 15.8 10.9 13.9 14.6 18.1
Years of education
0–11 1,001,673 28.5 14.9 13.7 16.1 13.4 13.5
12 3,389,083 20.9 9.3 7.5 12.3 24.2 25.9
13–15 2,760,305 15.8 10.1 8.1 15.0 15.1 35.9
16 or more 1,564,877 11.7 6.3 5.1 14.2 19.7 43.0
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: "DI beneficiaries" includes disabled workers, disabled widow(er)s, and disabled adult children but excludes nondisabled individuals receiving DI benefits as dependents of disabled workers.
A "family" is two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.
Family income is for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. All other data are for the month preceding the interview date. Interviews took place May–August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
Chart 2.
DI beneficiaries with family incomes at selected percentages of the poverty threshold, by years of education, 2013 (in percent)
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15.
NOTES: A “family” is two or more persons residing together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption.
Data are for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. Interviews took place May–August 2013.

As part of the social safety net, DI benefits help keep some individuals out of poverty. If DI benefits were removed from their income, half of disabled beneficiaries would have been in poverty in 2013 based on their family income level (Table 6A). With benefits included in family income, only 19 percent of disabled workers had income below the poverty threshold. If the DI Trust Fund were depleted and disabled-worker benefits were reduced by 19 percent, the poverty rate for disabled workers would rise from 19 percent to 26 percent (Table 6B).7 Receiving DI benefits reduced the aggregate poverty gap, or the aggregate difference between family income and the poverty threshold for those below the threshold, by 85 percent (Table 7). Beneficiaries' economic behavior would likely change if they did not receive disability benefits or received reduced benefits; thus, hypothetical estimates that simply exclude or reduce DI benefits do not fully capture the economic situation beneficiaries and their families would experience in the absence of the program or in the face of reduced benefits. Rather, these estimates represent how the program contributes to the reduction in poverty under existing patterns of behavior.

Table 6A. Percentage distribution of DI beneficiaries, by poverty status with and without DI benefits, 2013
Family income minus DI benefits as a percentage of poverty threshold Total Actual family income (including DI benefits) as a percentage of poverty threshold
Number Percent Total Less than 100% 100–149% 150% or more
All disabled beneficiaries 9,598,885 100.0 100.0 19.7 18.1 62.2
Less than 100% 4,843,395 50.5 100.0 39.0 34.2 26.8
100–149% 877,336 9.1 100.0 . . . 9.7 90.3
150% or more 3,878,153 40.4 100.0 . . . . . . 100.0
Disabled workers 8,715,938 100.0 100.0 18.5 17.6 63.9
Less than 100% 4,278,042 49.1 100.0 37.7 34.2 28.2
100–149% 811,426 9.3 100.0 . . . 9.1 90.9
150% or more 3,626,470 41.6 100.0 . . . . . . 100.0
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: "DI beneficiaries" includes disabled workers, disabled widow(er)s, and disabled adult children but excludes nondisabled individuals receiving DI benefits as dependents of disabled workers.
A "family" is two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.
Family income is calculated for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. Interviews took place May-August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
. . . = not applicable.
Table 6B. Percentage distribution of disabled-worker beneficiaries, by family income relative to the poverty threshold with full DI benefits and with a 19 percent reduction in disabled-worker benefits, 2013
Percentage of poverty threshold Family income minus 19% of disabled-worker benefits a Actual family income (including full DI benefits)
Disabled workers 100.0 100.0
Less than 100% 25.5 18.5
100–149% 16.9 17.6
150–199% 11.6 13.9
200–249% 8.6 9.4
250% or more 37.4 40.6
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: A 19 percent reduction simulates the effect of DI Trust Fund depletion, which is projected for 2016 in the absence of prior Congressional action.
A "family" is two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.
Family income is calculated for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. Interviews took place May-August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
a. All disabled-worker benefits in the family are reduced by 19 percent.
Table 7. Poverty gap with and without DI benefits for families with DI beneficiaries, by selected demographic characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Aggregate poverty gap (thousands of dollars) Reduction in poverty gap (%)
If DI benefits were excluded With DI benefits
Total 16,418,211 2,418,115 85.3
Sex
Male 8,208,011 1,055,341 87.1
Female 8,210,199 1,362,775 83.4
Age
Under 40 2,287,327 561,097 75.5
40–49 2,910,684 519,205 82.2
50–59 6,621,265 794,582 88.0
60 or older 4,598,936 543,232 88.2
Race
White 11,269,626 1,437,493 87.2
Black 4,308,843 840,864 80.5
Other 839,741 139,759 83.4
Ethnicity
Hispanic 2,085,143 466,762 77.6
Non-Hispanic 14,333,067 1,951,353 86.4
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: "DI beneficiaries" includes disabled workers, disabled widow(er)s, and disabled adult children but excludes nondisabled individuals receiving DI benefits as dependents of disabled workers.
"Poverty gap" refers to the difference between family income and the poverty threshold for a family in poverty. Aggregate poverty gap is the sum of individual poverty gaps for all families with DI beneficiaries.
A "family" is two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.
Family income and poverty threshold data are calculated for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. All other data are for the month preceding the interview date. Interviews took place May-August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

SSI Recipients

SSI recipients in this sample include aged, blind, and disabled individuals. The tables show results for three subgroups: children (younger than age 18), working-age adults (18–64), and the aged (65 or older).8 The maximum monthly SSI payment amount, called the federal benefit rate, can be reduced for individuals with countable earnings and unearned income. In 2013, the federal benefit rate was $710 for an individual and $1,066 for a couple in which both members were eligible.

Chart 3 summarizes educational attainment patterns. For both working-age and aged recipients, greater shares had at least 12 years of education in 2013 (72 percent and 60 percent, respectively) than did in 2010 (68 percent and 47 percent). Although education levels are lower for aged recipients than for working-age recipients, the gap has narrowed substantially, from 21 to 12 percentage points, since 2010. In 2013, about 29 percent of aged recipients had less than 9 years of education, compared with 10 percent of working-age recipients (Table 8). In 2010, the corresponding estimates were 37 and 12 percent.

Chart 3.
SSI recipients, by educational attainment and age group, 2013 (in percent)
Bar chart. Two categories with two bars each. In the 18 to 64 age group, 27.8% had fewer than 12 years of education and 72.2% had 12 or more years. In the 65 or older age group, 40.1% had fewer than 12 years of education and 59.9% had 12 or more years.
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15.
NOTE: Data are for the month preceding the SIPP interview date. Interviews took place May–August 2013.
Table 8. Number and percentage distribution of SSI recipients, by age group and selected demographic characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Number Percent
Total Under 18 18–64 65 or older Total Under 18 18–64 65 or older
All recipients 7,899,163 1,288,324 4,624,296 1,986,543 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Sex
Male 3,578,887 887,605 2,101,559 589,723 45.3 68.9 45.4 29.7
Female 4,320,276 400,719 2,522,738 1,396,819 54.7 31.1 54.6 70.3
Race
White 4,214,798 609,061 2,756,771 848,967 53.4 47.3 59.6 42.7
Black 2,771,401 546,561 1,383,019 841,821 35.1 42.4 29.9 42.4
Other 912,964 132,702 484,507 295,755 11.6 10.3 10.5 14.9
Ethnicity
Hispanic 1,543,338 342,544 764,539 436,254 19.5 26.6 16.5 22.0
Non-Hispanic 6,355,826 945,780 3,859,757 1,550,289 80.5 73.4 83.5 78.0
Marital status
Married 1,230,734 . . . 757,976 472,758 15.6 . . . 16.4 23.8
Widowed 894,525 . . . 168,237 726,288 11.3 . . . 3.6 36.6
Divorced or separated 1,641,137 . . . 1,127,007 514,130 20.8 . . . 24.4 25.9
Never married 2,844,443 . . . 2,571,077 273,366 36.0 . . . 55.6 13.8
Suppressed 1,288,324 1,288,324     16.3      
Years of education a
0–8 1,057,527 . . . 473,646 583,881 13.4 . . . 10.2 29.4
9–11 1,024,038 . . . 812,030 212,008 13.0 . . . 17.6 10.7
12 2,879,226 . . . 2,196,117 683,109 36.4 . . . 47.5 34.4
13–15 1,159,839 . . . 811,425 348,414 14.7 . . . 17.5 17.5
16 or more 490,209 . . . 331,078 159,131 6.2 . . . 7.2 8.0
Health insurance b
Medicaid 7,614,450 1,240,920 4,439,085 1,934,445 96.4 96.3 96.0 97.4
Medicare 3,111,171 . . . 1,140,088 1,971,082 39.4 . . . 24.7 99.2
Medicaid and Medicare only 2,862,715 . . . 1,028,209 1,834,506 36.2 . . . 22.2 92.3
Private 685,215 161,010 426,493 97,711 8.7 12.5 9.2 4.9
Source of income b
Social Security c 3,084,127 104,485 1,472,229 1,507,413 39.0 8.1 31.8 75.9
Public assistance other than SSI d 3,927,986 . . . 2,794,983 1,133,004 49.9 . . . 60.4 57.0
Earnings 464,316 . . . 374,670 89,646 5.9 . . . 8.1 4.5
Property income 947,082 . . . 555,604 391,478 12.0 . . . 12.0 19.7
Other income 444,979 . . . 324,539 120,440 5.6 . . . 7.0 6.1
Veteran status a
Veteran 132,375 . . . 93,726 38,649 1.8 . . . 2.1 2.0
Nonveteran 6,171,267 . . . 4,274,208 1,897,059 82.3 . . . 97.9 98.0
Total 4-month personal income e ($)
Less than 2,000 658,057 230,087 335,047 92,922 8.3 17.9 7.2 4.7
2,000–2,499 411,031 140,259 179,653 91,119 5.2 10.9 3.9 4.6
2,500–2,999 3,546,285 778,508 1,898,666 869,110 44.9 60.4 41.1 43.7
3,000 or more 3,283,791 139,469 2,210,930 933,392 41.6 10.8 47.8 47.0
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: Unless otherwise noted, data are for the month preceding the SIPP interview month. Interviews took place May–August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
. . . = not applicable.
a. Adult population only.
b. Individuals may be counted in more than one category.
c. Includes disability, old-age, and survivor benefits.
d. Other public assistance includes state SSI, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, General Assistance, Women Infant and Children benefits, food stamps, food assistance, clothing assistance, short-term assistance, transportation assistance, and other welfare.
e. Data are for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date.

Unlike Medicare coverage under DI, which begins only after 24 months in the program, Medicaid coverage begins immediately for SSI recipients in most states. In 2013, 96 percent of all SSI recipients reported Medicaid coverage and 39 percent reported Medicare coverage. The percentage of aged SSI recipients with Medicare coverage is undoubtedly high, although perhaps not quite the 99 percent reported in the SIPP.9 We note that a substantial proportion of aged SSI recipients reported Social Security benefits in the SIPP (76 percent); however, according to SSA records, only 56 percent of SSI recipients aged 65 or older had Social Security benefits (SSA 2015, Table 7.D2). Private health insurance covered about 9 percent of SSI recipients. Table 8 also shows that 50 percent of recipients reported receiving public assistance other than SSI (such as General Assistance) and 6 percent reported earnings. About 39 percent of SSI recipients reported receiving Social Security benefits and 6 percent reported other sources of income.

The majority of adult SSI recipients (52–53 percent, depending on the age group) had 4-month total personal income below $3,000 and most of those individuals had income between $2,500 and $2,999. We note that SSI payments for a recipient who qualified for the federal benefit rate of $710 in 2013 would amount to $2,840 over a 4-month period, which would fall within that range.

Majorities of SSI adult recipients were nonhomeowners and received SNAP food assistance (Table 9). Homeownership rates declined almost 20 percent from the 2010 levels for aged recipients (from 40 percent to 32 percent) and families with a child SSI recipient (from 30 percent to 25 percent). About three-quarters of working-age recipients resided in households where they were the sole SSI adult recipient. Similarly, for aged recipients, 67 percent resided in households where there was only one adult recipient.

Table 9. Number and percentage distribution of SSI recipients, by age group and household and family characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Number Percent
Total Under 18 18–64 65 or older Total Under 18 18–64 65 or older
All recipients 7,899,163 1,288,324 4,624,296 1,986,543 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Household type a
Family
Married couple 1,780,106 . . . 1,270,775 509,331 26.9 . . . 27.5 25.6
Male householder 489,922 . . . 403,144 86,778 7.4 . . . 8.7 4.4
Female householder 1,937,690 . . . 1,397,397 540,293 29.3 . . . 30.2 27.2
Nonfamily or group quarters 2,403,122 . . . 1,552,981 850,141 36.4 . . . 33.6 42.8
Homeownership status b
Owned 2,522,834 318,947 1,562,268 641,620 31.9 24.8 33.8 32.3
Not owned
Public housing 1,841,586 283,079 1,034,031 524,476 23.3 22.0 22.4 26.4
Other 3,534,743 686,298 2,027,997 820,447 44.8 53.2 43.8 41.3
Household receipt of assistance c
Energy 552,269 139,258 315,368 97,642 7.0 10.8 6.8 4.9
Housing 364,325 91,037 212,671 60,617 4.6 7.1 4.6 3.1
Food (SNAP) 4,958,240 836,126 2,985,516 1,136,598 62.8 64.9 64.6 57.2
Household size
1 1,850,849 . 1,056,068 794,781 23.4 . 22.8 40.0
2 2,011,657 117,054 1,262,598 632,004 25.5 9.1 27.3 31.8
3–4 2,454,716 602,981 1,499,214 352,522 31.1 46.8 32.4 17.7
5 or more 1,581,941 568,289 806,417 207,236 20.0 44.1 17.4 10.4
Family size
1–2 4,270,538 138,962 2,665,856 1,465,721 54.1 10.8 57.6 73.8
3–4 2,235,826 604,519 1,311,854 319,454 28.3 46.9 28.4 16.1
5 or more 1,392,799 544,843 646,587 201,369 17.6 42.3 14.0 10.1
Children in family
None 5,043,361 . . . 3,275,184 1,768,177 63.8 . . . 70.8 89.0
1 1,069,477 307,714 667,946 93,817 13.5 23.9 14.4 4.7
2 979,493 442,384 447,139 89,969 12.4 34.3 9.7 4.5
3 or more 806,832 538,225 234,027 34,580 10.2 41.8 5.1 1.7
Child SSI recipients in household
None 4,383,604 . . . 4,383,604 . . . 55.5 . . . 94.8 . . .
1 or more 1,529,017 1,288,324 240,693 . . . 19.4 100.0 5.2 . . .
Suppressed 1,986,543 . . . . . . 1,986,543 25.1 . . . . . . 100.0
Adult SSI recipients in household
None 1,014,667 1,014,667 . . . . . . 12.8 78.8 . . . . . .
1 5,093,142 236,561 3,518,566 1,338,016 64.5 18.4 76.1 67.4
2 or more 1,791,354 37,096 1,105,731 648,527 22.7 2.9 23.9 32.6
Total 4-month household income d ($)
Less than 5,000 2,563,678 203,343 1,520,789 839,545 32.5 15.8 32.9 42.3
5,000–7,499 1,058,336 124,453 635,014 298,869 13.4 9.7 13.7 15.0
7,500–9,999 1,055,175 231,874 678,767 144,535 13.4 18.0 14.7 7.3
10,000–14,999 985,587 316,792 549,638 119,157 12.5 24.6 11.9 6.0
15,000–19,999 979,066 183,841 360,945 434,281 12.4 14.3 7.8 21.9
20,000 or more 1,257,321 228,022 879,144 150,156 15.9 17.7 19.0 7.6
Total 4-month family income d ($)
Less than 5,000 3,138,082 251,388 1,990,503 896,190 39.7 19.5 43.0 45.1
5,000–7,499 1,055,669 129,471 640,465 285,733 13.4 10.0 13.8 14.4
7,500–9,999 947,148 238,238 586,008 122,902 12.0 18.5 12.7 6.2
10,000–14,999 863,293 299,517 458,187 105,589 10.9 23.2 9.9 5.3
15,000–19,999 889,384 163,034 292,069 434,281 11.3 12.7 6.3 21.9
20,000 or more 1,005,588 206,675 657,065 141,848 12.7 16.0 14.2 7.1
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: A "family" is two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together. A "household" includes related family members and any unrelated persons, such as lodgers, foster children, wards, or employees, who share the housing unit. A household may comprise a person living alone in a housing unit or a group of unrelated persons sharing a housing unit as partners.
Unless otherwise noted, data are for the month preceding the SIPP interview month. Interviews took place May–August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
. . . = not applicable.
a. Adult recipients only.
b. Refers to ownership by any member of the household, not necessarily the recipient.
c. Individuals may be counted in more than one category.
d. Data are for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date.

Although family income (shown in Table 9) was generally higher than personal income (shown in Table 8) for SSI recipients, total 4-month family income was still less than $7,500 ($1,875 a month) for 57–60 percent of adult SSI recipients. Family income for families with a child SSI recipient was higher, with only about 30 percent falling below $7,500 across 4 months. Although the percentage of aged recipients relying on SSI for 100 percent of personal income (17 percent, Table 10) fell slightly from its 2010 level (19 percent), that share among working-age recipients rose by more than 9 percentage points, from nearly 34 percent in 2010 to 43 percent in 2013. Family income for SSI recipients primarily comprised SSI payments, Social Security benefits, and earnings (Table 11). SSI payments accounted for 43 percent of family income, followed by earnings, which accounted for 25 percent, and Social Security benefits, which accounted for another 23 percent. The share of family income contributed by earnings was higher for families with child SSI recipients than for working-age recipients (35 percent versus 21 percent). The majority of family income for SSI recipients aged 65 or older was provided by the combination of Social Security benefits (37 percent) and SSI payments (32 percent), although earnings also accounted for 26 percent.

Table 10. SSI adult recipients, by percentage of personal income attributable to SSI payments and selected demographic characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Number Percent Percentage distribution
Total Less than 25% of income 25–49% of income 50–74% of income 75–99% of income 100% of income
All recipients 6,610,839 100.0 100.0 22.5 19.8 13.3 9.0 35.4
Sex
Male 2,691,282 40.7 100.0 25.0 14.3 13.6 7.1 40.0
Female 3,919,557 59.3 100.0 20.8 23.6 13.0 10.3 32.3
Age
18–64 4,624,296 70.0 100.0 19.0 12.8 14.3 10.7 43.2
65 or older 1,986,543 30.0 100.0 30.6 36.3 10.7 5.2 17.2
Race
White 3,605,737 54.5 100.0 22.6 14.9 15.5 10.2 36.9
Black 2,224,840 33.7 100.0 24.1 29.8 9.7 6.8 29.6
Other 780,262 11.8 100.0 17.2 14.3 13.0 10.0 45.5
Ethnicity
Hispanic 1,200,793 18.2 100.0 28.0 15.0 14.1 9.5 33.6
Non-Hispanic 5,410,046 81.8 100.0 21.3 20.9 13.1 8.9 35.8
Marital status
Married 1,230,734 18.6 100.0 20.3 19.5 12.4 6.5 41.4
Widowed 894,525 13.5 100.0 22.6 50.6 6.4 5.2 15.2
Divorced or separated 1,641,137 24.8 100.0 29.3 14.9 19.0 9.3 27.5
Never married 2,844,443 43.0 100.0 19.5 13.2 12.4 11.2 43.8
Years of education
0–8 1,057,527 16.0 100.0 26.2 22.5 17.7 8.1 25.4
9–11 1,024,038 15.5 100.0 15.6 15.9 13.8 8.5 46.3
12 2,879,226 43.6 100.0 23.2 16.7 12.2 9.9 38.0
13–15 1,159,839 17.5 100.0 21.7 33.0 10.9 7.0 27.4
16 or more 490,209 7.4 100.0 26.4 9.4 14.1 12.0 38.1
Living arrangement
Lives alone 1,850,849 28.0 100.0 35.6 16.6 12.2 7.8 27.8
Lives with relatives 4,210,374 63.7 100.0 16.7 22.5 14.0 9.9 36.9
Lives only with nonrelatives 549,616 8.3 100.0 22.8 9.8 11.2 6.2 50.0
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: Personal income data and poverty thresholds are for a 4-month period between January and July 2013 based on rotation group.
Personal income is calculated for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. All other data are for the month preceding the interview date. Interviews took place May-August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
Table 11. Percentage distribution of family income for SSI recipients, by income source and selected demographic characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Total Social Security a Public assistance Earnings Other
SSI Other
All recipients 100.0 22.6 43.0 4.9 24.5 5.0
Sex
Male 100.0 21.3 42.7 4.8 26.2 5.0
Female 100.0 23.7 43.3 5.1 23.0 4.9
Age
Under 18 100.0 8.7 45.3 3.8 34.9 7.3
18–64 100.0 20.4 47.3 6.0 20.9 5.4
65 or older 100.0 36.6 31.7 3.1 25.9 2.7
Race
White 100.0 22.2 44.2 4.8 23.6 5.2
Black 100.0 24.7 40.7 5.3 24.6 4.7
Other 100.0 18.0 44.8 4.6 27.8 4.8
Ethnicity
Hispanic 100.0 22.2 39.7 4.8 28.2 5.1
Non-Hispanic 100.0 22.7 43.9 5.0 23.6 4.8
Marital status
Married 100.0 22.0 39.8 6.2 28.0 4.0
Widowed 100.0 30.6 27.3 2.2 35.7 4.2
Divorced or separated 100.0 32.2 48.8 6.0 7.7 5.3
Never married 100.0 17.2 45.1 4.7 27.6 5.4
Years of education
0–8 100.0 30.3 37.9 6.5 20.9 4.4
9–11 100.0 22.7 51.9 6.0 14.5 4.9
12 100.0 23.7 40.9 4.7 26.3 4.4
13–15 100.0 26.6 42.2 4.8 21.5 4.9
16 or more 100.0 25.8 44.4 4.0 21.6 4.2
Unknown 100.0 8.7 45.3 3.8 34.9 7.3
Living arrangement
Lives alone 100.0 38.2 52.3 4.6 2.2 2.7
Lives with relatives 100.0 17.7 37.1 5.0 34.1 6.1
Lives only with nonrelatives 100.0 18.1 69.5 5.3 4.6 2.5
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTE: A "family" is two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.
Family income is for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. All other data are for the month preceding the interview date. Interviews took place May–August 2013.
a. Includes disability, old-age, and survivor benefits.

A substantial minority (43–44 percent) of adult SSI recipients and 34 percent of families with a child SSI recipient had family income below the poverty level in 2013 (Table 12). Among those most likely to fall under the poverty threshold were recipients who were divorced or separated and recipients with 9–11 years of education. SSI payments helped some families move out of poverty, but most families remained within 150 percent of the poverty threshold. Without counting SSI payments in family income, the poverty rate would be 63 percent, compared with the actual rate (42 percent) when SSI payments are included (Table 13). The percentage of child SSI recipients with family income below the poverty line falls from 58 percent to 34 percent when SSI is counted. Thus, of children whose family income without SSI would be below the poverty line, about 41 percent are not in poverty when SSI payments are included in family income. The impact of SSI payments on the family income of working-age recipients is somewhat smaller, helping 36 percent move above the poverty threshold. SSI payments reduced the aggregate poverty gap by about 68 percent (Table 14).

Table 12. Percentage distribution of SSI recipients, by poverty status and selected demographic characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Total Family income relative to poverty threshold
Less than 100% 100–124% 125–149% 150–199% 200–299% 300% or more
All recipients 7,899,163 41.9 12.3 10.0 11.9 11.8 12.1
Sex
Male 3,578,887 38.2 13.9 11.7 13.8 10.7 11.8
Female 4,320,276 45.0 11.0 8.6 10.4 12.7 12.3
Age
Under 18 1,288,324 33.9 12.1 15.3 16.5 12.0 10.1
18–64 4,624,296 43.4 13.9 9.9 10.9 11.0 10.9
65 or older 1,986,543 43.6 8.6 7.0 11.4 13.5 15.9
Race
White 4,214,798 41.8 13.0 10.0 12.1 12.0 11.1
Black 2,771,401 45.2 8.3 9.3 11.5 12.2 13.5
Other 912,964 32.2 21.1 12.3 12.5 9.7 12.1
Ethnicity
Hispanic 1,543,338 37.3 13.2 12.8 16.5 10.6 9.6
Non-Hispanic 6,355,826 43.0 12.1 9.4 10.8 12.1 12.7
Marital status
Married 1,230,734 32.3 16.9 16.2 14.5 9.6 10.6
Widowed 894,525 31.1 4.4 8.6 5.2 22.4 28.3
Divorced or separated 1,644,212 63.1 10.9 7.0 8.6 5.0 5.4
Never married 4,129,692 38.6 13.2 9.7 14.0 12.9 11.7
Years of education a
0–8 1,057,527 42.3 13.7 10.6 16.1 10.6 6.8
9–11 1,024,038 51.8 10.9 11.7 10.9 8.7 6.2
12 2,879,226 41.7 13.2 7.5 10.5 16.7 10.4
13–15 1,159,839 41.4 9.9 9.7 7.8 4.9 26.4
16 or more 490,209 43.5 13.1 7.4 11.5 7.7 16.8
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: A "family" is two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.
Family income is for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. All other data are for the month preceding the interview date. Interviews took place May–August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
a. Adult population only
Table 13. Percentage distribution of SSI recipients, by poverty status with and without SSI payments and age group, 2013
Family income minus SSI payments as a percentage of poverty threshold Total Actual family income as a percentage of poverty threshold
Number Percent Total Less than 100% 100–149% 150% or more
All recipients 7,899,163 100.0 100.0 41.9 22.3 35.8
Less than 100% 5,011,909 63.4 100.0 66.0 28.3 5.7
100–149% 882,260 11.2 100.0 . . . 38.9 61.1
150% or more 2,004,995 25.4 100.0 . . . . . . 100.0
Under age 18 1,288,324 100.0 100.0 33.9 27.5 38.6
Less than 100% 741,097 57.5 100.0 58.9 33.4 7.6
100–149% 240,914 18.7 100.0 . . . 44.1 55.9
150% or more 306,312 23.8 100.0 . . . . . . 100.0
Aged 18–64 4,624,296 100.0 100.0 43.4 23.8 32.9
Less than 100% 3,122,134 67.5 100.0 64.2 29.4 6.3
100–149% 427,787 9.3 100.0 . . . 42.2 57.8
150% or more 1,074,375 23.2 100.0 . . . . . . 100.0
Aged 65 or older 1,986,543 100.0 100.0 43.6 15.6 40.8
Less than 100% 1,148,678 57.8 100.0 75.5 22.0 2.6
100–149% 213,558 10.8 100.0 . . . 26.6 73.4
150% or more 624,307 31.4 100.0 . . . . . . 100.0
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: A "family" is two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.
Family income is calculated for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. Interviews took place May-August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.
. . . = not applicable.
Table 14. Poverty gap with and without SSI payments for families with SSI recipients, by selected demographic characteristics, 2013
Characteristic Aggregate poverty gap (thousands of dollars) Reduction in poverty gap (%)
If SSI payments were excluded With SSI payments
Total 16,987,220 5,456,108 67.9
Sex
Male 7,664,124 2,364,230 69.2
Female 9,323,095 3,091,878 66.8
Age
Under 18 3,698,607 1,265,450 65.8
18–64 10,624,888 3,375,394 68.2
65 or older 2,663,725 815,264 69.4
Race
White 8,938,350 2,794,843 68.7
Black 6,195,340 2,291,820 63.0
Other 1,853,530 369,446 80.1
Ethnicity
Hispanic 3,224,432 1,008,805 68.7
Non-Hispanic 13,762,787 4,447,303 67.7
SOURCE: Social Security administrative records matched to 2008 SIPP wave 15 (2013).
NOTES: A "family" is two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.
"Poverty gap" refers to the difference between family income and the poverty threshold for a family in poverty. Aggregate poverty gap is the sum of individual poverty gaps for all families with SSI recipients.
Family income and poverty threshold data are calculated for the 4-month period ending with the month preceding the SIPP interview date. All other data are for the month preceding the interview date. Interviews took place May-August 2013.
Totals do not necessarily equal the sum of rounded components.

In closing, we note that the Census Bureau substantially changed the SIPP beginning in 2014. SIPP interviews are now conducted yearly rather than every 4 months, and include somewhat different questions. The SIPP was redesigned to improve accuracy, reduce the burden to respondents and survey administration costs, and ensure that the data collected are relevant and timely (Census Bureau 2015). In 2014, SSA funded a supplemental interview fielded by the Census Bureau about 6 months after the first interview of the redesigned SIPP. Although SSA will explore the possibility of updating these tables using the redesigned SIPP, comparable estimates may not be forthcoming.

Notes

1 There is one exception: The previous edition's Table 6 is numbered 6A in this update, and a new Table 6B presents the estimated poverty-rate effects of a 19 percent reduction in disabled-worker benefits to simulate the impact of the DI Trust Fund depletion, which the Social Security Board of Trustees projects for 2016 in the absence of prior Congressional action.

2 As in the previous editions of this note, we identify SSI payment amounts as actual payments received (as opposed to payments due) and DI benefits as the monthly amount due before Medicare premium deductions.

3 We use the average of two years' administrative totals to adjust for the reference months used in the analysis (January through July 2013). In previous updates, we used only 1 year of administrative data because the reference months (September through December) aligned with SSA's December administrative totals.

4 We estimate that the institutionalized share of program participants ranges from 1.1–24.2 percent, depending on the program and the participant's age. These figures are based on internal estimates and are the same percentages used in prior editions of this note. Although they are dated, these estimates remain the best currently available.

5 For more information, see http://www.ssab.gov/FactsAndFigures/DidYouKnowCharts/DisabilityTrustFundSolvency.aspx.

6 Nondisabled dependents of disabled workers may also receive auxiliary DI benefits, but we exclude those individuals from this analysis. Therefore, these tables (and the accompanying discussion) cover only individuals who are entitled to DI benefits based on their own disability. In 2013, nondisabled dependents accounted for less than 16 percent of DI beneficiaries (SSA 2014, Table 1).

7 This change would be greater if we also removed auxiliary benefits paid from the DI Trust Fund to children of disabled workers. In 2013, 12.6 percent of disabled-worker beneficiaries had a dependent child younger than 18, and the average monthly family benefit was roughly $540 higher than the worker's primary insurance amount. (SSA 2014, Tables 29 & 30).  

8 SSI recipients who are both disabled and aged 65 or older are counted in the aged category.

9 Many respondents who reported Medicare coverage likely fell within the 76 percent of aged SSI recipients in our sample who had any Social Security income, many of whom would thus be eligible for Medicare coverage. A few others may have received Medicare coverage through Railroad Retirement or other programs. However, we suspect that the self-reported 99 percent Medicare coverage rate is partially due to confusion between Medicare and Medicaid among SSI recipients.

References

Bailey, Michelle Stegman, and Jeffrey Hemmeter. 2014. “Characteristics of Noninstitutionalized DI and SSI Program Participants, 2010 Update.” Research and Statistics Note No. 2014-02. http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/rsnotes/rsn2014-02.html.

Census Bureau. 2015. “Survey of Income and Program Participation: SIPP Introduction and History.” http://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/sipp/about/sipp-introduction-history.html.

DeCesaro, Anne, and Jeffrey Hemmeter. 2008. “Characteristics of Noninstitutionalized DI and SSI Program Participants.” Research and Statistics Note No. 2008-02. http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/rsnotes/rsn2008-02.html.

[SSA] Social Security Administration. 2014. Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2013. SSA Publication No. 13-11826. Washington, DC: SSA. http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2013/index.html.

———. 2015. Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, 2014. SSA Publication No. 13-11700. Washington, DC: SSA. http://www.socialsecurity.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2014/index.html.