EMF22-01: Assessing Administrative Burden Among SSI Recipients



Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients often manage multiple benefit programs to manage their health and disability and make ends meet. The administrative burden of accessing and maintaining SSI and additional benefits can be very onerous to recipients, who are particularly vulnerable to its impacts as a population navigating both poverty and disability. This qualitative-focused mixed methods study used administrative data from California to describe the population of SSI recipients who simultaneously receive CalFresh, the state’s SNAP benefit, after a 2019 policy change newly permitted dual enrollment. In the qualitative portion, 17 working-age SSI recipients participated in in-depth interviews and follow-up feedback groups in English and Hmong to explore how administrative burden impacted them and what strategies they used to address it. A team coding approach to thematic analysis was used to analyze transcript data using the analysis software Dedoose. Quantitative findings show widespread though inequitable CalFresh take-up among SSI recipients, indicating a need for increased outreach efforts to communities with limited English proficiency. Qualitative findings suggest that the psychological costs of administrative burden that participants encounter, such as disability- and welfare-related stigma and chronic stress, amplify their experiences of compliance and learning costs. In this context, SSI benefit–related burden was primary for participants, who in turn assessed the administrative burden they encountered in additional benefit programs relatively—in comparison to SSI—rather than additively. Low levels of trust in SSI reported by participants seemed to increase the psychological costs and learning costs of administrative burden they experienced. Strategies such as the introduction of eligibility screeners for non-SSI benefits during continuing reviews and the reduction of the frequency of income and asset reporting could decrease the costs of administrative burden.


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EMF22-01: Assessing Administrative Burden Among Supplemental Security Income Recipients

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