Research & Analysis by Greg P. Hannsgen

Deeming Rules and the Increase in the Number of Children With Disabilities Receiving SSI: Evaluating the Effects of a Regulatory Change
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 59, No. 1 (released January 1996)
by Greg P. Hannsgen and Steven H. Sandell

This article examines a source of the growth in the SSI children's program: a relatively minor and little-noticed change in the financial eligibility rules. The way parental earnings were counted as income, or "deemed" to children (to use SSA language) was changed. The new, more generous financial eligibility rules added a small but significant number of recipients to the rolls after 1992 and also increased the benefit amounts for many of those already receiving SSI. Using SSA administrative data and a simulation technique, this article estimates how much the deeming policy change contributed to the expansion of the rolls and the cost of the program. We estimate that program costs of the deeming rule change were approximately $63 million annually in 1993 dollars. The change led to a 2-percent increase in the number of children on the rolls.