Academic journal article Social Security Bulletin

Message from the Associate Commissioner

Academic journal article Social Security Bulletin

Message from the Associate Commissioner

Article excerpt

Children, disability, and disabled children: these are the subjects of the articles in this issue of the Bulletin. The first article looks at how the OASDI and SSI programs are helping to meet the needs of low-income families with children. In the second article, we review administrative records to see if new disability beneficiaries (those awarded in 1986-93) have similar diagnoses as those who were receiving benefits before 1986. And in the last article, we explore how the social insurance programs of other industrialized countries provide for disabled children.

The first article concludes a two-part series examining the poverty status of families with children. Poverty rates for all categories of Americans declined significantly throughout the 1960's, and the proportion of children living in poverty was reduced by almost half. However, this trend began to change in the mid-1970's, and poverty among children has been increasing steadily ever since. The status of poor families has been made worse by changes in their make-up and, in recent years, by a decline in mean household income. Over half of the families with children headed by a female now have income below the poverty line. By contrast, the poverty rate for elderly persons has remained stable throughout this period.

OASDI and SSI benefits have played an important role in limiting the impact of social and economic changes on the financial well-being of children. Benefit payments have kept over 1.1 million children above the poverty line and have helped to minimize the effects of poverty on an additional 1.3 million children in families that remained below the poverty line. This article considers why benefits lift some families from poverty while others remain below the poverty line. For families with OASDI benefits, the ability to maintain family income above the poverty line was related to the composition of the family, the type of OASDI benefit received, the amount of the benefit, and the amount of income received from other sources. For families with SSI payments, family composition was the major factor: families headed by a single adult were twice as likely to be in poverty as those headed by a couple.

The second article adds to our research on the Disability Insurance program by reporting on changes in the relative size of diagnostic groups of disabled workers, disabled widows and widowers, and disabled adult children during the 1986-93 period. …

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