SSI eligibility and participation among the aged: A hazard model approach

TitleSSI eligibility and participation among the aged: A hazard model approach
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsKim, JH
AdvisorMeyer, D
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
UniversityThe University of Wisconsin - Madison
CityMadison, WI
Thesis TypeDissertation
Call Numbernewpubs20110418_Kim2.pdf
KeywordsDemographics, Expectations, Methodology, Other, Social Security

This dissertation revisits the historic policy concern over nonparticipation in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, and more specifically, the question of why take- up of SSI program benefits among the aged is perpetually lower than what theory proposes. The most contemporary research model suggests that from a static or cross-sectional perspective, the aged take-up decision is primarily determined by the financial situation of the eligible individuals (McGarry, 1995). Yet, extant studies have yet to establish a dynamic model of SSI participation that explicitly takes into account the changing circumstances of the elderly. For many elders, the period after age 65 is a time of rapid and considerable changes in the areas of income, health and functioning, as well as living situations. As such, this study extends the current literature by exploring the longitudinal processes leading to both SSI eligibility and eventual take-up of benefits among the aged. Methodologically, the research relies on event history analysis of data from the Health and Retirement Study spanning the years 1996-2006 to explain both the timing of transition to eligibility and participation status, as well as the role of life events on the aforementioned outcomes of interest. Life table analysis yields a cumulative, twelve-year take-up rate of ∼36% among those eligible, and a cumulative, twelve-year eligibility rate of ∼25% among those at risk. Meanwhile, hazard models reveal that changes in health and functioning over time in addition to changes in the expected benefit significantly influence the participation decision.

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