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Factors Determining Participation of the Elderly in Supplemental Security Income

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  • Kathleen McGarry
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    Abstract

    The same low participation rates which plague many welfare programs have been observed among the elderly eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). A number of hypotheses have been offered to explain the low enrollment, but none has attracted universal acceptance. In this paper I use the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to examine the participation of the elderly in SSI. Because of the high quality of the data, I am able to determine eligibility more accurately than in most previous studies. In this sample, only 56 percent of those whom I determine to be eligible for SSI are presently receiving benefits. I model the decision to participate as a probit equation, but modify the likelihood function to account for measurement error in the expected benefit. The results indicate that participation is primarily determined by the financial situation of the eligible individuals. Although all those eligible for SSI are poor, those with little in the way of other resources are significantly more likely to participate. This finding differs from widespread beliefs that eligible individuals are discouraged by the difficulty of the application process, or that many are uninformed about the program.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

    Volume (Year): 31 (1996)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 331-358

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    Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:31:y:1996:i:2:p:331-358

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    Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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    Cited by:
    1. Momi Dahan & Udi Nisan, 2010. "The effect of benefits level on take-up rates: evidence from a natural experiment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 151-173, April.
    2. Olivier Bargain & Herwig Immervoll & Heikki Viitamäki, 2009. "No Claim, No Pain - Measuring the Non-Take-up of Social Assistance using Register Data," Working Papers 200931, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
    3. Susan E. Mayer, 2000. "Why Welfare Caseloads Fluctuate: A Review of Research on AFDC, SSI, and the Food Stamps Program," JCPR Working Papers 166, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    4. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "The Effect of Old Age Assistance on Retirement," NBER Working Papers 6548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. A. S. Yelowitz, . "Public Policy and Health Care Choices of the Elderly: Evidence from the Medicare Buy-In Program," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1136-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    6. Helen Levy & David R. Weir, 2010. "Take-up of Medicare Part D: Results From the Health and Retirement Study," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 65(4), pages 492-501.
    7. Olivier Bargain & Herwig Immervoll & Heikki Viitamäki, 2007. "How Tight are Safety-Nets in Nordic Countries? Evidence from Finnish Register Data," Working Papers 200712, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
    8. Dahlia K. Remler & Jason E. Rachlin & Sherry A. Glied, 2001. "What can the take-up of other programs teach us about how to improve take-up of health insurance programs?," NBER Working Papers 8185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Momi Dahan & Udi Nisan, 2006. "Low Take-up Rates: The Role of Information," CESifo Working Paper Series 1829, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Helen Levy & David Weir, 2007. "Take-Up of Medicare Part D and the SSA Subsidy: Early Results from the Health and Retirement Study," Working Papers wp163, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.

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