How Do Continuing Disability Reviews Affect Child SSI Recipients?

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Michael Levere and David Wittenburg, Mathematica and Jeffrey Hemmeter, U.S. Social Security Administration

This project will assess the ways that recent increases in continuing disability reviews (CDRs) affect benefit receipt and earnings outcomes of child SSI recipients. It will use benefits data from the Supplemental Security Record together with earnings data from the Master Earnings File. The results will provide insight into how SSA’s recent program integrity efforts have influenced program dynamics and children’s well-being.

From 2015-2018, the annual number of CDRs for child SSI recipients more than quadrupled relative to the annual average from 2011-2014. This project will explore how changes in CDRs since 2003 (when a backlog of reviews started to build) influenced the total SSI caseload. We will summarize the characteristics of those with benefits ceased over time and identify the share that returned to benefits within five years. Of particular interest is how these patterns have changed for recent “cessation” cohorts that did not face timely CDRs due to budget limitations. Using these patterns, we will simulate how the caseload would have evolved if CDRs had remained stable. The results could inform discussion on the special program integrity funding SSA receives, as well as how CDRs contributed to recent caseload declines.