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Abstract

Understanding Participation in SSI
Kathleen McGarry and Robert F. Schoeni
WP 2015-319

The Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) provides a guaranteed income for the elderly. As such it can serve to mitigate any deleterious effects of reductions in Social Security benefits that might result from any Social Security reform. However, participation in SSI among qualified individuals has proven to be low. We show that this low participation rate, just over 50%, observed at the program’s inception has continued to today with little if any change. We also find that transfers from children are far larger among eligible non-participants suggesting that family assistance may offset the need for public assistance.

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