Roundtable: SSI At 40: How Well Does It Support Disabled Children and Adults Caring for Them?

Thursday, November 8, 2012: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Washington (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizers:  Shawn Fremstad, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Speakers:  Dennis Hogan, Brown University, Pamela Loprest, Urban Institute, Susan Parish, Brandeis University and David Wittenburg, Mathematica Policy Research
Moderators:  Rebecca Vallas, Center for American Progress

This year is the 40th anniversary of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which was signed into law by President Nixon in 1972. SSI’s anniversary provides an opportunity to review the past and present of SSI and consider its future. This roundtable will focus on the role SSI plays in helping children with disabilities and the parents who care for them, a topic that is currently receiving considerable attention. Over the next several months, GAO will release a report examining children’s SSI, Russell Sage will publish a new book on the family impact of child disabilities, and the next issue of the Future of Children will focus on children with disabilities. SSI replaced a patchwork of state programs for the aged, blind and disabled. Children have been eligible for SSI since the program’s beginning. Research published in APPAM’s journal in 2007 found that SSI reduces child poverty among children with disabilities without operating as a work disincentive for parents. However, elements of the program have been controversial at times, including in the mid-1990s and again in recent years. In recent years, some critics have argued that SSI, particularly for children, has become the “new welfare.” Both the 2011 and 2012 House Budget Resolutions have included proposals to cut child SSI benefits, and the House Republican Study Committee has called for block granting it to the states. Questions considered during the roundtable will include: 1) Is the share of children with disabilities increasing? What factors explain increases in the number of children receiving SSI over the last decade? Are too few or too many children receiving SSI? 2) Have the changes to AFDC-TANF, such as TANF’s block grant financing structure, participation rates, and time rates, resulted in more children receiving SSI? 3) What is the extent of economic insecurity, including poverty, food insecurity, and other material hardships, among families with disabled children? What do we know about the well-being of disabled children in low- and moderate income families? 4) How do children’s disabilities and impairments affect parental well-being, including their health, employment, and earnings? 5) How could SSI, the Earned Income Tax Credit and related programs be improved to increase the economic security of families with disabled children? 6) What do we know about youth who receive SSI (or received it as children)? What do we know from the ongoing evaluation of the Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD) How could SSI, the EITC and related programs be improved to increase the economic security and well-being of youth with disabilities?

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