Academic journal article Social Security Bulletin

Transitions from AFDC to SSI before Welfare Reform

Academic journal article Social Security Bulletin

Transitions from AFDC to SSI before Welfare Reform

Article excerpt

This article examines the interaction between the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) programs in the period before

welfare reform (1990 to 1996). It also discusses the potential impact of welfare reform on the interaction between SSI and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which replaced AFDC

Summary

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) programs serve populations with similar characteristics. SSI serves adults and children with disabilities who are in low-income families, and AFDC serves low-income families with children. Because of that overlap, policy changes in one program can affect the other.

In 1996, Congress enacted the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which transformed AFDC into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Many people have expected that implementing that welfare reform legislation would eventually increase SSI participation, for two reasons. First, TANF includes new work requirements and time limits that induce more AFDC/ TANF recipients with disabilities to obtain SSI benefits. Second, the change in the funding mechanism-from openended funding on a matching basis for AFDC to cash assistance block grants for TANF-gives states a stronger incentive to shift welfare recipients to SSI.

This article examines the interaction between the SSI and AFDC programs in the prereform period (1990 to 1996) and discusses the potential implications of welfare reform on that interaction. Using matched data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and Social Security Administration (SSA) records, our analysis focuses on how the interaction of those programs affects young women (aged 18 to 40) and children (aged 0 to 17).

We find a very strong link between AFDC and SSI for young women and children. Significant portions of young female and child SSI beneficiaries in the 1990-1993 period were in AFDC families or had received AFDC in the past. In addition, a substantial share of young women and children who received AFDC during that period eventually entered SSI. Because the SSI program is now serving a much larger population of families with young women and children than in the past, SSA might need to develop policies to better serve that group. The findings also suggest that the prereform period is a poor baseline against which to measure the impact of TANF, primarily because of the instability in programs and policies.

Introduction

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) programs serve overlapping target groups. SSI serves adults and children with disabilities from low-income families, and AFDC serves low-income families with children. Consequently, policy changes in one program can affect the other.

Many people have anticipated that the implementation of welfare reform legislation in August 1996, which transformed AFDC into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, would eventually increase SSI participation, for two reasons. First, the new TANF work requirements and time limits could induce more AFDC/TANF recipients with disabilities to obtain SSI benefits. Second, the change from open-ended funding on a matching basis for AFDC to cash assistance block grants for TANF creates a stronger incentive for states to shift welfare recipients to SSI. Furthermore, legislative initiatives in 1996 and 1997 that tightened SSI eligibility for children and eliminated benefits for adults whose drug abuse or alcoholism was material to disability could induce some potential SSI applicants to participate in TANF.

Although it has long been known that the SSI and AFDC programs interact, an analysis of the interactions is rare, and little data has been available on persons targeted by both programs. Previous studies provide evidence of substantial transitions of children from AFDC to SSI during the 1990-1996 period because of expanded eligibility for children, but the studies are limited by data constraints (Garrett and Glied 2000; Kubik 1998). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.