The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWORA) , passed in August 1996, made sweeping changes in both of the major means-tested cash programs for low income Americans, Aid with Families to Dependent Children (AFDC) and the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI). Because the magnitude of change was more sweeping within the AFDC program, most of the focus and research has been centered on that program. Little, if any, attention has been paid to the changes in the SSI program. Yet, under PRWORA, the SSI eligibility guidelines for childhood disability were tightened. As a result of these changes, up to 100,000 children had lost benefits by 1998, and estimates are that roughly one quarter of a million children could eventually lose their SSI benefits (Rogowaski et al. 1998). The PRWORA legislation is up for reauthorization during the summer of 2002, so determining its effects on children's well-being is useful for policymakers.
This paper is structured in three parts: 1) a background section citing potential effects of the legislation, 2) a data issues a section which discusses the limitations of this data source, and 3) an analysis and conclusion section which considers what the SPD can tell us about SSI receipt for children.