Supplemental Security Income and Children

21 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2020

See all articles by David Weaver

David Weaver

Catholic University of America (CUA), Lecturer (Economics)

Date Written: January 10, 2020


In 2018, 1.1 million children under the age of 18 received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Children qualify for SSI if their families have limited income and assets and the children have medically-determinable conditions that result in marked and severe functional limitations. In this study, I use recent data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and the Disability Analysis File to measure the demographic, economic, educational, health, and social characteristics of children receiving SSI. Relative to other children, I find SSI children have high rates of poverty, near poverty, material hardship, hospitalization, mortality, and adverse schooling outcomes. Relative to other parents, parents of SSI children are more likely to have a disability of their own and less likely to be married, working, or with education beyond high school. Within the SSI child population, I find children in households where family members also receive SSI to have higher levels of material hardship. The study concludes with a comparison of findings to the research literature and a policy discussion.

Keywords: Supplemental Security Income, SSI, children, poverty, health, mortality

JEL Classification: I31, I32, I38, J13, H00

Suggested Citation

Weaver, David, Supplemental Security Income and Children (January 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

David Weaver (Contact Author)

Catholic University of America (CUA), Lecturer (Economics) ( email )

United States

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