Despite Some Gains, Social Security Administration Data Show a Low Level of Workforce Participation Among SSI Recipients

DATA NOTE No. 58, 2017

By Daria Domin and Jaimie Timmons

Data Source: Social Security Administration, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics: SSI Annual Statistical Report, 2015

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According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a total of 4,961,659 blind and disabled recipients1 between the ages of 18 and 64 received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in 2015. Out of the almost 5 million individuals receiving SSI benefits, only 6.3% worked (n=311,922).

Adults with disabilities between the ages of 40 and 64 were a significant demographic of people who receive SSI, constituting almost two thirds of recipients in 2015 (64%; n=3,167,307). However, only 3.5% (n=111,762) of SSI recipients with disabilities in this age group worked.

In comparison, younger SSI recipients (ages 18–39) constituted 36% (n=1,794,352) of the total SSI recipients. However, their workforce participation was over 3 times higher compared to the 40–64 age group, at 11.2%.

Despite the low level of workforce participation among SSI recipients, especially among the 40–64 age group, there was a slight increase in workforce participation among recipients between the ages of 18 and 39 in 2014, and this trend continued into 2015. The same trend was not evident in SSI recipients between ages 40 and 64.

Although there are observed age differences in workforce participation going back to 2010 (see Table 1), the overall low level of workforce participation among SSI recipients as a whole (6.3%), especially those between 40 and 64 (3.5%), is discouraging.

However, it is promising that younger SSI recipients joined the workforce in 2015 at slightly higher rates compared to their older counterparts, and that there were slight gains across all age groups from the prior year.

Table 1: Percentage of SSI Recipients Who Work (by Age Group)
Age Groups 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
18–21 8.3% 8.2% 8.0% 8.2% 8.6% 9.0%
22–25 13.6% 13.1% 13.1% 13.2% 13.6% 14.3%
26–29 12.8% 12.5% 12.4% 12.3% 12.8% 13.5%
30–39 9.4% 9.0% 8.8% 8.7% 8.9% 9.4%
40–49 5.7% 5.3% 5.2% 5.0% 4.9% 5.1%
50–59 3.6% 3.4% 3.3% 3.2% 3.1% 3.1%
60–64 2.7% 2.6% 2.5% 2.4% 2.3% 2.4%
18–64 6.4% 6.2% 6.1% 5.9% 6.0% 6.0%

Suggested Citation

Domin, D., & Timmons, J. (2017). Despite Some Gains, Social Security Administration Data Show a Low Level of Workforce Participation Among SSI Recipients. DataNote Series, Data Note 58. Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts Boston, Institute for Community Inclusion.

Acknowledgments

This is a publication of StateData.info, funded in part by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (#90DN0295).


1 and disabled recipients is the terminology used in the Social Security Administration dataset/codebook.