SSI and the Well-Being of the Elderly Poor
This chapter concentrates on the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which provides means-tested benefits for the elderly poor. It is noted that the majority of SSI recipients remain poor in spite of the possible benefits. The state supplemental programs play a large role in augmenting eligibility relative to the federal guidelines. A popular proposal for reforming Social Security is a move to a system of individual retirement accounts. The distributional influences of alternative Social Security reforms can depend heavily on the interactions with SSI, and the details of any reform proposals need to consider the potential spill-over effects. Guaranteeing all elderly an income equal to the poverty line is potentially costly, increasing the current benefit outlays to the elderly by 62 percent with an asset test in effect, and by over 90 percent with the concurrent elimination of the asset test.
Keywords: elderly poor, Supplemental Security Income, eligibility, retirement, Social Security reforms, poverty