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SSI for the Aged and the Problem of 'Take-Up'

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Listed:
  • Todd E. Elder

    (Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations)

  • Elizabeth T. Powers

    (Institute of Government and Public Affairs)

Abstract

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides an income and health care safety net for the elderly poor. The phenomenon of apparently eligible households that do not enroll in, or 'take up' SSI has been noted as a severe problem since the program's inception in 1974. This paper examines SSI eligibility, applications, and participation in the aged population from 1984 (the most recent year analyzed in the literature to date) through 1997. We are fortunate to have administrative data on SSI use that is linked to various panels of the SIPP. We use this information to estimate the SSI-aged application choice. The key findings from the earlier literature are sensitive with respect to exact sample specification, alternative approaches to imputing the expected SSI benefit, and more detailed information on application and receipt culled from administrative files. Our findings suggest that cash benefits may be less influential, and Medicaid access through SSI more influential, than previously estimated.

Suggested Citation

  • Todd E. Elder & Elizabeth T. Powers, 2004. "SSI for the Aged and the Problem of 'Take-Up'," Working Papers wp076, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp076
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    File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp076.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1023-1035, December.
    2. Hill, Daniel H, 1990. "An Endogenously-Switching Ordered-Response Model of Information, Eligibility and Participation in SSI," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 368-371, May.
    3. Rebecca M. Blank & Patricia Ruggles, 1996. "When Do Women Use Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Food Stamps? The Dynamics of Eligibility Versus Participation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(1), pages 57-89.
    4. Yelowitz, Aaron S, 2000. "Using the Medicare Buy-In Program to Estimate the Effect of Medicaid on SSI Participation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(3), pages 419-441, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Todd Elder & Elizabeth Powers, 2007. "A Longitudinal Analysis of Entries and Exits of the Low-Income Elderly to and from the Supplemental Security Income Program," Working Papers wp156, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    2. 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.
    3. 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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