WI22-06: The Power of Linked Administrative Data: Understanding Racial and Ethnic Differences in SSA and Means-Tested Benefit Receipt and Their Anti-Poverty Effects for Children in Multigenerational Families



A growing share of children reside in households with caregivers who do not include their biological parents, many of which are their grandparents, or in three-generation households that include one or both of their parents as well as one or more grandparents. Such arrangements are especially common among Black and Latinx households, and among low-income households in which one or more members receives Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI), and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Access to such benefits may have important implications for child wellbeing, yet little is known about the mix of benefits such families utilize or the ways in which Social Security Administration (SSA) benefit receipt among such families may differ by family structure and race/ethnicity. This study uses a unique, longitudinal, linked administrative data system to identify the extent to which SSA programs provide support to low-income households with children, the proportion of multi-generational households in these populations, the importance of SSA benefits for household income, common patterns of earnings and multiple-program participation (SSI, OASDI, SNAP, MA, TANF, child support enforcement, child care subsidies, etc.), the anti-poverty effect of SSI and OASDI (and the various components thereof) alone and in combination with other benefits, and whether such outcomes vary by race and ethnicity. The study lays the groundwork for future research using linked administrative data to inform benefit structure and eligibility rules to support family wellbeing and equity program goals.

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