From 2009 to 2016, SSI caseloads increased by 9%, with 4.8 million prime-aged recipients in 2016. Over the same time period, TANF caseloads declined by 11%, reaching 1.5 million in 2016. Both programs provide cash-assistance to non-working or low-income households, although SSI targets only disabled households. This project will broadly look for evidence of “caseload-shifting”—or households switching from TANF to SSI. This transition requires that an individual is diagnosed as disabled, so households must weigh the relative benefits of welfare and disability when deciding which assistance to choose. This project will explore a policy that is likely to affect caseload-shifting from TANF to SSI: housing assistance. Those who diagnosed as disabled may have a greater likelihood of qualifying for housing assistance compared to other low-income households. Since receiving housing assistance is worth thousands of dollars each year to recipients, access to housing assistance may give individuals an incentive to shift from TANF and SSI. The ultimate goal of this project is to understand how housing assistance interacts factors into SSI takeup when compared with other public benefits programs such as TANF, SNAP, and EITC.
WI19-07: Housing Assistance and SSI Caseload Shifting