NB19-09: The Impact of Benefit Receipt on Financial Security Among Low-Income and Aged Households: New Evidence from Private Data and Linked Administrative Records in Rhode Island
Using Rhode Island data, this project analyzes whether having a utility bill due at the end of the month (instead of the start of the month) makes it more likely that low-income recipients of SSI, OASDI, or SNAP pay their bills late, have service terminated, suffer decreased credit scores, or experience negative health and crime outcomes. If so, then aligning the receipt of monthly benefits with bill due dates could help lower-income beneficiaries of OASDI and other income support programs. About 10% of the Rhode Island customer base qualifies for “income-eligible” tariffs, and of those customers, roughly 50% are more than 30 days past due on a bill. In 2016, 27,069 customers fell far enough behind on bills that their electricity or gas service was terminated. The threat of utility shut-off may lead to harmful consequences for families, especially aged households with medical needs and low-income households with limited resources to replace spoiled supplies or pay back arrearages.
• We will use a unique database of linked, comprehensive administrative records in Rhode Island.
• We will analyze whether having a bill due at the end of the month makes a household who receives their income at the start of the month more likely to be in arrears on a bill or have service terminated.
• We will use data on credit scores, emergency department admissions, arrests, and other measures of emergency service use to examine the impact of missed bill payments and electricity shut-off on economic and physical wellbeing.
Supported by the Social Security Administration grant #1 RDR18000003-01-00
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