Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 74 No. 3

(released August 2014)
by L. Scott Muller, Nancy Early, and Justin Ronca

This article examines the experiences of veterans with service-connected disabilities who encounter the disability compensation program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration's Disability Insurance (DI) program. The authors use matched administrative records from both agencies to track the characteristics and experiences of veterans who received VA ratings of “totally disabled” during fiscal years 2000–2006, focusing on the timing and outcomes of their applications for DI benefits and the prevalence of the primary diagnoses identified by both programs. The authors pay special attention to diagnoses of posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

by Joyce Nicholas

This article examines the in-kind support and maintenance (ISM) received by Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program applicants and recipients. Social Security defines ISM as unearned income received by SSI applicants and recipients in the form of food and/or shelter from anyone living within or outside their households. About 9 percent of SSI recipients have their benefit rates reduced because of ISM during any given year. Using data from the Modernized SSI Claims System, the author quantifies the source, form, and amount of ISM received by SSI recipients. The article reveals that SSI recipients are more likely to receive ISM from outside than inside their homes, receive assistance in the form of shelter rather than food, and allege assistance that is equal to or less than the current ISM caps.

by Alan L. Gustman, Thomas L. Steinmeier, and Nahid Tabatabai

This article examines the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset. These provisions reduce the Social Security benefits of workers (and the resulting benefits of their spouses) if the prime beneficiary worked in “noncovered” employment (in which Social Security payroll taxes were not paid) and the noncovered job provided a pension, or if the spouse or survivor earned a pension from noncovered work. Using Health and Retirement Study data uniquely suited to the analysis, the authors calculate the household-level average lifetime benefit reductions resulting from these provisions and examine them in the context of lifetime Social Security income, pension income, and total wealth. The analysis also isolates the effects of pensions from noncovered employment on benefit adjustments and wealth.