Brief Encouraging Work in the Supplemental Security Income Program
Jack Smalligan, Chantel Boyens
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The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides an essential safety net for low-income people with disabilities and low-income seniors, assisting 8.1 million beneficiaries and significantly reducing poverty. Beneficiaries receiving SSI have very low incomes and few assets. Many have a desire and capacity to engage in some work that would modestly improve their financial stability. However, SSI rules around income and earnings are complicated and disincentivize work effort. In this paper, we examine the impact of increasing the earnings disregard to the level it would have been if it had been indexed to inflation since the start of the program. Increasing the monthly earned income disregard from $65 to $416 a month in 2022 would enable SSI beneficiaries to supplement their SSI benefit with earnings that could boost their total income above the federal poverty level.

Research Areas Aging and retirement Economic mobility and inequality Social safety net Disability equity policy
Tags Poverty Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Wages and economic mobility Welfare and safety net programs
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center
Research Methods Data analysis