The Poverty Status of Different Types of Multirecipient Households: Is SSI Fair to Married Couples?

Melissa L. Koenig, U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA)
Kalman Rupp, U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA)

Research demonstrates that Supplemental Security Income provides less poverty protection for widows and other single-recipient individuals than for couple recipients, but ignores multirecipiency status in assessing the relationship between SSI participation, household structure, and poverty. We consider multirecipiency status and ask whether couple beneficiaries are treated fairly relative to others in multirecipient households. Specific concerns focus on the relatively favorable treatment of children and cohabitors. The goals include: (1) estimating the prevalence and characteristics of SSI recipients who share a household with other recipients and (2) analyzing the effect of SSI program rules on the poverty status of different types of multirecipient households. We simulate the poverty effects of alternative program rules incorporating different equivalency scales and countable income rules. The analysis data set is the Survey of Income and Program Participation, which provides accurate information on household and family relationships, matched to administrative data including accurate monthly SSI payments.

Presented in Session 22: Economic Demography Issues of Disability and Disability Policy