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Supplemental Security Income - Ssi Growth And The Economy

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The SSI program has grown over its more than twenty years. Total SSI federal benefit payments in 1999 were more than seven times the amount of payments in the first year of the program—$3.8 billion in 1974 ($1.7 billion for the aged, and $2.1 billion for the blind and disabled) and $28.6 billion in 1999 ($3.6 billion for the aged, and $25 billion for the blind and disabled). However, it is important not to misinterpret the numbers. Putting SSI spending in the context of the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) provides a more accurate picture than looking at spending growth alone. When considering SSI as a proportion of GDP, a two-part question must be considered: Is the economy growing rapidly enough to absorb the rising cost of the SSI program? Or is SSI growing faster than overall economic output, thereby increasing the real burden of the program?

In 1974 SSI represented 0.26 percent of GDP. By 1999 that portion had increased to 0.32 percent. Thus, SSI represented a larger portion of the economy in 1999 than it did in 1974. However, the 1999 SSI annual report projects that by 2023 SSI costs as a percent of GDP will have dropped back to the original level of 0.26 percent.

LAUREL BEEDON

See also CONSUMER PRICE INDEX AND COLAS; ECONOMIC WELL-BEING; MEDICAID; POVERTY; SOCIAL SECURITY, ADMINISTRATION.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BEEDON, L. E. Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Data Digest no. 43. Washington, D.C.: AARP Public Policy Institute, 2000.

FARRELL, W., et al. Administration and Service Delivery in the Supplemental Security Income Program, 1974–83. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, 1984.

Social Security Administration. Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin. SSA. Publication no. 13-11700. Washington, D.C.: Social Security Administration, 1999. Pages 285–308.

Social Security Administration. State Assistance Programs for SSI Recipients. SSA Publication no. 13-11975. Baltimore: Social Security Administration, 1999.

U.S. Congress, House Committee on Ways and Means. Social Security Amendments of 1971, Report of the House Committee on Ways and Means on H.R 1. H. Rpt. 92-231, 92nd Cong., 1st sess. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1971. P. 147.

U.S. Congress, House Committee on Ways and Means. Green Book—Background Material and Data on Programs within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1998. Pages 262–326.

U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Finance. Social Security Amendments of 1971, Report of the Committee on Finance to Accompany H.R.1. S. Rpt. 92-1230, 92nd Cong., 2nd sess. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972. Page 384.

U.S. General Accounting Office. Supplemental Security Income Growth and Changes in Recipient Population: Call for Reexamining Program. GAO/ HEHS-95-137. Washington, D.C.: GAO, 1995.

WU, K.B. Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States in 1999. Fact Sheet no 79. Washington, D.C.: AARP Public Policy Institute, 2000.

INTERNET RESOURCES

DYER, J. ‘‘Social Security Administration Communications to Congress, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources on the SSI Fraud Prevention Act of 1999.’’ Available on the World Wide Web at www.ssa.gov/policy

Social Security Administration. ‘‘Highlights of Supplemental Security Income Data, May 2000.’’ Available on the World Wide Web at www.ssa.gov/policy

Social Security Administration. ‘‘SSI Annual Report [of the] Social Security Advisory Board.’’ Available on the World Wide Web at www.ssa.gov

U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau. ‘‘Poverty in the United States: 1998.’’ P60–297. Available on the World Wide Web at www.census.gov

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