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Factors Determining Participation of the Elderly in SSI

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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, 1995. "Factors Determining Participation of the Elderly in SSI," NBER Working Papers 5250, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5250
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    Cited by:

    1. Wei-Yin Hu, 1996. "Elderly Immigrants on Welfare," UCLA Economics Working Papers 750, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Janice A. Hauge & Mark A. Jamison & R. Todd Jewell, 2007. "Participation in Social Programs by Consumers and Companies," Public Finance Review, , vol. 35(5), pages 606-625, September.
    3. 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.
    4. Janice Hauge & Mark Jamison, 2010. "Effects of using specific versus general data in social program research," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(13), pages 1627-1639.
    5. Hauge, Janice A. & Jamison, Mark A. & Todd Jewell, R., 2008. "Discounting telephone service: An examination of participation in the Lifeline Assistance Program using panel data," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 135-149, June.

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    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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