How Did Suspending In-Person Services Affect DI and SSI Applications and Allowances?

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Michael Anderson, Monica Farid, and Gina Freeman, Mathematica and Chris Earles, U.S. Social Security Administration

This project will study the causal impacts of suspending in-person applications to DI and SSI during the COVID pandemic on the volume of applications, composition of applicants, and initial acceptance rates. We will first document the characteristics of 2019-2021 DI and SSI applicants by mode of application and the association between application mode and likelihood of initial acceptance. Then we will use difference-in-differences methods to compare areas with high field office coverage to those with low field office coverage (which are less affected by office service suspensions) pre- and post-March 2020. This approach will allow us to isolate the impacts of suspending in-person services at SSA field offices from other aspects of the pandemic. Our results will inform SSA’s understanding of the effects of in-person service suspensions and whether certain populations’ access to services was impacted more than others.