NBER Disability Research Center

NB13-02, Exploring the Growth of the Child SSI Caseload in the Context of the Broader Policy and Demographic Landscape

Anna Aizer, Brown University and NBER
Nora Gordon, Georgetown University and NBER
Melissa Kearne, University of Maryland and NBER

The child Supplemental Security Income (SSI) caseload more than tripled between 1989 and 2010, and it continues to grow. The research we propose has two main objectives. First, we aim to investigate the extent to which the SSI caseload growth reflects broader trends in disability diagnoses among children in the U.S. as compared to how much is due to the incentives implicit in the provisions of the SSI program. Second, we aim to explore the extent to which the SSI caseload is driven by parameters of other social programs serving overlapping populations, such as special education programs. We will do this by relating state-level SSI caseloads to program parameters that affect eligibility for these other programs. Our conceptual emphasis will be on inter-program relationships and issues of budget considerations. We will investigate whether patterns of growth and relationships across programs vary according to SSI eligibility criteria by comparing, for example, the post-Zebley period of 1990-1996 and post-PRWORA period of 1996-2010.