A Longitudinal Analysis of Entries and Exits of the Low-Income Elderly to and from the Supplemental Security Income Program

Published: 2007



This paper is the first to analyze eligibility and participation spells and estimate dynamic models of SSI participation by the aged. We first describe eligibility and participation spells and estimate  competing-risk models of the determinants of transitions. Next, we present evidence of extensive measurement error in the expected SSI benefit and the associated imputed eligibility status of sample members. We compare and contrast two approaches to ameliorating this error. A cross-section approach exploits self-reports of participants’ benefits, and a longitudinal approach makes inferences from time variation in the computed benefit. We find that the hazard model estimates vary little with regard to whether or which particular measurement error correction is employed. Finally, the longitudinal patterns of eligibility and participation suggest that take-up rates among the persistently eligible are nearly 80 percent.


Key Findings

    • The SSI (Supplemental Security Income) participation rate in the aged is strongly positively associated with eligibility length.
    • The take-up rate among those who have been eligible for SSI for 3 years or more is 80 percent, suggesting that those who are persistently poor are being helped by the program.