JSIT20-01: Direct and Indirect Effects of Receiving SSI Benefits During Childhood


  • Maliha M. Singh


In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court passed a decision in the Sullivan vs Zebley case which eased the criteria to be considered disabled for children with intellectual disabilities making it easier for them to qualify for SSI. Although research in this area has shown benefits of targeting health-issues in youth, there has been very limited research regarding how families make use of the additional income brought into the household by SSI. In order to look into the fuller picture and have a more complete evaluation of the benefits of SSI, it is necessary to look beyond the short-term impacts of child SSI benefits on the direct recipients themselves. My project uses the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 79 (NLSY79) linked to the Child and Young Adult Supplement to look into the long term effects of Zebley reform beyond the child recipients themselves. I look into the spillover effects of the Zebley reform on the siblings in the household who were not directly exposed to the reform but were affected through living in the same household as the child directly exposed to the Zebley reform due to his type of intellectual disability. Exploiting the Zebley reform, I employ a strategy inspired by difference-in-difference where I use variation in the number of years siblings spent together before turning eighteen as treatment intensity to look into the effects on various adult life outcomes such as college graduation, earnings and house-ownership.


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