Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 60, No. 4

(released October 1997)
by David A. Weaver

There are numerous types of benefits paid under the Social Security programs of the United States, with each type of benefit having its own set of eligibility rules and benefit formula. It is likely that there is an association between the type of benefit a person receives and the economic circumstances of the beneficiary. This article explores that association using records from the Current Population Survey exactly matched to administrative records from the Social Security Administration. Divorced beneficiaries are a particular focus of this article.

Type of benefit is found to be a strong predictor of economic well-being. Two large groups of beneficiaries, retired-worker and aged married spouse beneficiaries, are fairly well-off. Other types of beneficiaries tend to resemble the overall U.S. population or are decidedly worse off. Divorced spouse beneficiaries have an unusually high incidence of poverty and an unusually high incidence of serious health problems. A proposal to increase benefits for these beneficiaries is evaluated. Results of the analyses indicate that much of the additional Government expenditures would be received by those with low income.

by Rita L. DiSimone

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), enacted on August 21, 1996 (Public Law 104-19), provides for improved access and renewability with respect to employment-related group health plans, to health insurance coverage sold in connection with group plans, and to the individual market (by amending the Public Health Service Act). The Act's provisions include improvements in portability and continuity of health insurance coverage; combating waste, fraud, and abuse in health insurance and health care delivery; promoting the use of medical savings accounts; improving access to long-term care services and insurance coverage; administrative simplification; and addressing duplication and coordination of Medicare benefits.