Academic journal article Social Security Bulletin

How Postsecondary Education Improves Adult Outcomes for Supplemental Security Income Children with Severe Hearing Impairments

Academic journal article Social Security Bulletin

How Postsecondary Education Improves Adult Outcomes for Supplemental Security Income Children with Severe Hearing Impairments

Article excerpt

Summary

The rapid growth in the number of children participating in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program before the age of 18 has led policymakers to consider new methods of assisting children with disabilities in their transition from school to work. Postsecondary education represents one path that SSI children may take to acquire the skills necessary to enter employment and reduce dependency on the SSI disability program as adults. Yet little is known about SSI children's experience with postsecondary education, let alone their ability to increase their labor market earnings and reduce their time on SSI as adults in the long term. This lack of information on long-term outcomes is due in part to a lack of longitudinal data.

This article uses a unique longitudinal data set to conduct a case study of SSI children who applied for postsecondary education at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) within the Rochester Institute of Technology. The data set was created by merging NTID administrative data on the characteristics and experiences of its applicants to Social Security Administration (SSA) longitudinal data on earnings and program participation. We used this data file to estimate the likelihood that an SSI child will graduate from NTID relative to other hearing-impaired NTID applicants, and we estimated the influence of graduation from NTID on participation in the SSI adult program and later success in the labor market.

The results of our analysis show that the percentage of NTID applicants who were SSI children increased over time, from a low of 10 percent in 1982 to more than 41 percent in 2000. However, the differences in the probability of graduation from NTID between deaf SSI children and deaf applicants who were not SSI children did not change accordingly. The probability of graduation for SSI children who applied to NTID was 13.5 percentage points lower than for those who were not SSI children. The estimated disparity indicates that targeting college retention programs toward SSI children may be an effective way to improve overall graduation rates.

Our results also show that SSI children who graduated from NTID spent less time in the SSI adult program and had higher earnings than SSI children who did not graduate. Compared with SSI children who were accepted to NTID but chose not to attend, SSI children who graduated from NTID left the SSI program 19 months earlier, were less likely to reenter the program, and at age 30 had increased their earnings by an estimated 49 percent. Our findings demonstrate that SSI children need not be relegated to a lifetime of SSI participation as adults, despite the poor overall labor market experience of this population since the creation of the SSI program in 1974.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is the largest federal means-tested cash assistance program in the United States. It is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and provides assistance to children with disabilities, working-age adults with disabilities, and the aged, as long as they meet the income and resource requirements necessary for eligibility.1 In 2005, approximately 1 million children under the age of 18 received disability payments through the SSI program. The number of children receiving SSI has tripled over the past 15 years, far outpacing the growth of working-age adults and the aged receiving it (Social Security Administration 2006). Many of these children are likely to participate in the SSI disability program for a majority of their lifetime (Rupp and Scott 1995) because they are unlikely to reach the income or resource levels, either through work or through other means, to make a long-term exit from the SSI program. The rapid growth in the number of children receiving disability payments and the evidence that suggests that many of them will depend on these benefits for most of their lives has prompted policymakers to consider new methods to assist children in the transition from school to work. …

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