Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 81, No. 2

(released May 2021)
by Joyce Nicholas and Thomas W. Hale

This article examines the geographic, demographic, socioeconomic, and program-participation characteristics of initial Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) applicants who faced homelessness during 2007–2017. Using Social Security Administration data, the authors chart the distribution of homeless SSI/DI applicants and beneficiaries across county-equivalent areas in the contiguous United States. They also use a text-mining method to identify 162,536 potentially homeless disability-program applicants, in addition to the 647,790 applicants identified using the standard homeless-status indicators in the administrative data. They find that homelessness among disability-program applicants was largely an urban phenomenon, with almost half (42.1 percent) of applicants living in one of 25 urban areas. Relative to their domiciled counterparts, homeless disability-program applicants were far more likely to be male, aged 18–64, and without a high school or general equivalency diploma.

by Jeffrey Hemmeter, Michael Levere, Pragya Singh, and David C. Wittenburg

This article provides new evidence of the changing role of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program for low-income children since 1997. The authors use administrative records from the Social Security Administration to identify new SSI awardees and track their histories in SSI and in the Social Security Disability Insurance program. SSI participation lasted much longer for 2007 and 2012 awardees than for their 1997 counterparts. However, the authors also find that the volume of continuing disability reviews, which determine continuation or cessation of SSI eligibility and were conducted more frequently for 1997 awardees than for subsequent cohorts, strongly affects length of program participation. The trend toward longer periods of program participation therefore might not continue, given that the number of continuing disability reviews has risen substantially since 2015.