Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 58, No. 3

(released July 1995)
by John R. Kearney, Herman F. Grundmann, and Salvatore J. Gallicchio

This is the second of two articles on the effects of Old-Age Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments on the poverty status of children. Based primarily on a data file from the 1990 SIPP matched with Social Security Administration (SSA) administrative records, the principal findings in the article are that: (1) the families of children who were entitled to survivors benefits, and in particular those families in which the surviving parent was remarried, were much less likely to have income below the poverty threshold than other families with children who received OASDI benefits; (2) families with a child eligible for SSI payments, and headed by a single adult, received considerably less income from earnings, and had less income overall, than other families with children that received SSI payments; and (3) the primary reason that some families who received OASDI and SSI benefits remained in poverty was the absence of any employed family member.

by Donald T. Ferron

Growth in the number of applications and subsequent awards for Social Security disabled-worker benefits marked the period from 1986 through 1993. These increases resulted in the 37 percent rise in the number of disabled-worker beneficiaries, 6 out of 10 of whom had disabilities within three diagnostic groups: circulatory disorders; mental disorders (other than mental retardation); and musculoskeletal diseases. The percentage of disabled workers with a circulatory condition decreased from 21 to 14 percent, while the percentage with a mental disorder increased from 20 to 25 percent, and the percentage with musculoskeletal conditions increased from 18 to 21 percent. Musculoskeletal conditions (22 percent) were the leading diagnosis among disabled widows and widowers in 1993, while the disabled adult child population was dominated by the mental retardation diagnostic group (63 percent). Variations in diagnostic conditions of disabled workers by sex, age, and region were often substantial.

by Ilene R. Zeitzer

In the United States, low-income families who have a child or children with a disability may be eligible for cash benefits payable under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. In the last few years, the number of these children on the SSI rolls has increased dramatically due, in large part, to new standards developed in response to a 1990 Supreme Court decision and the subsequent retroactive activity as a result of that decision. The rise in the number of child beneficiaries has led to increased concerns as to whether cash benefits are the best way to help these children and their families deal with the additional needs and expenses caused by disabilities. This article begins with a summary of recent American developments regarding the childhood disability issue as background to an exploration of comparative practices.

In light of the current interest in the United States concerning children with disabilities, it seems timely to explore the approaches used by other countries' social insurance programs. This study details the practices and provisions of 14 European countries and 4 other developed countries (Australia, Israel, Japan, and New Zealand). In addition to examining the variables involved in making cash benefits available and awarding them to families on behalf of disabled children, the article also provides information of in-kind benefits to which such families would be entitled and gives some insight as to the philosophy and policy goals of selected foreign programs.

by Lenna D. Kennedy, Charles G. Scott, and Alfreda M. Brooks

This note addresses concerns about the amounts of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments made to households where two or more recipients live together. Under current law these payments are not generally reduced. One of the concerns is that the SSI program may be providing income to households whose income exceeds an equitable standard, defined in terms of the poverty guidelines. This study measures the incidence of this happening by comparing unit incomes to the 1994 poverty guidelines.

by Corrinne B. Lennox

As the size of the overall centenarian population in the United States increases, the number of centenarians participating in Social Security Administration programs grows as well. This note offers some statistical information about centenarians receiving Social Security—Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI)—benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, highlighting data on their sex, type of benefit, and the State in which they reside.