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Factors Determining Participation of the Elderly in Supplemental Security Income

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  • Kathleen McGarry

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kathleen McGarry, 1996. "Factors Determining Participation of the Elderly in Supplemental Security Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 331-358.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:31:y:1996:i:2:p:331-358
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Simon H. Kwan & Willard T. Carleton, 2010. "Financial Contracting and the Choice between Private Placement and Publicly Offered Bonds," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(5), pages 907-929, August.
    2. Susan E Mayer, 2000. "Why Welfare Caseloads Fluctuate: A Review of Research on AFDC, SSI, and the Food Stamps Program," Treasury Working Paper Series 00/07, New Zealand Treasury.
    3. A. S. Yelowitz, "undated". "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.
    4. Bargain, Olivier & Immervoll, Herwig & Viitamäki, Heikki, 2007. "How Tight Are Safety-Nets in Nordic Countries? Evidence from Finnish Register Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3004, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Kathleen McGarry & Robert F. Schoeni, 2015. "Understanding Participation in SSI," Working Papers wp319, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    6. Olivier Bargain & Herwig Immervoll & Heikki Viitamäki, 2012. "No claim, no pain. Measuring the non-take-up of social assistance using register data," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, pages 375-395.
    7. Momi Dahan & Udi Nisan, 2006. "Low Take-up Rates: The Role of Information," CESifo Working Paper Series 1829, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. 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;International Institute of Public Finance, pages 151-173.
    9. Marchand, J. & Smeeding, T., 2016. "Poverty and Aging," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, Elsevier.
      • Marchand, Joseph & Smeeding, Timothy, 2016. "Poverty and Aging," Working Papers 2016-11, University of Alberta, Department of Economics, revised 20 Nov 2016.
    10. Herber, Stefanie P. & Kalinowski, Michael, 2016. "Non-take-up of Student Financial Aid: A Microsimulation for Germany," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145727, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. Friedberg, Leora, 1999. "The effect of old age assistance on retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 213-232.
    14. Stefanie P. Herber & Michael Kalinowski, 2016. "Non-Take-Up of Student Financial Aid: A Microsimulation for Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 844, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    15. Sylvain Chareyron & Patrick Domingues, 2015. "Take-up of Social Assistance Benefits: The case of Homeless," TEPP Working Paper 2015-07, TEPP.
    16. GlennD. Rudebusch & Tao Wu, 2008. "A Macro-Finance Model of the Term Structure, Monetary Policy and the Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(530), pages 906-926, July.
    17. Mary Daly & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2003. "The Supplemental Security Income Program," NBER Chapters,in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 79-140 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Herber, Stefanie P. & Kalinowski, Michael, 2016. "Non-take-up of student financial aid: A microsimulation for Germany," BERG Working Paper Series 109, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    19. Wong, Sandy, 2016. "Geographies of medicalized welfare: Spatial analysis of supplemental security income in the U.S., 2000–2010," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 9-19.
    20. 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.
    21. Friedberg, Leora, 1999. "The effect of old age assistance on retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 213-232.

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