America's safety net catches more and more citizens

Participation in the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) keeps increasing, especially among people under 65.

While many assume that the Social Security Administration (SSA) only helps those over 65, it also administers the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. This chart shows 18- to 64-year-old recipients of SSI funds over the past eight years. The blue line represents the total number of SSI recipients, while the pink area shows the comparison of that number to the previous year.

Of the myriad of programs organized under the management of the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) provides one of the broadest federally funded stipends to low-income persons who are either aged (65 or older), blind, or disabled.

Typically recipients of SSI qualify for a multitude of assistance programs such as the Food Stamps, HUD Section 8 housing and Medicaid which taken together constitute a large part of the so-called “social safety net” implemented by the federal government.

It’s important to recognize that although SSI is administered by the SSA, it’s not funded from the Social Security Trust Fund allocated for the typical Social Security Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program but rather the U.S. Treasury general funds.

In this way, SSI like Food Stamps and other similar programs receives its funding either directly from current tax revenues or future tax revenues through the issuance of public dept.

Just as the participation in the Food Stamps program has surged over the last few years, SSI is experiencing acceleration in participation with a particularly notable increase coming from the 18-64 age range with disabilities.

For July, total participation increased 2.79% on a year-over-year basis to 7.831 million recipients, nearly double the rate of annual increase seen on average prior to the start of the Great Recession.

Further, the majority of the increase appears to be due to an acceleration of participation in the category of 18-64 year old blind or disabled recipients which increased 3.63% on a year-over-year basis to 4.568 million recipients, again over double the rate of annual increase seen on average prior to the start of the Great Recession.

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