Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New paper: "The Effect of Expanding Medicaid Eligibility on Supplemental Security Income Program Participation"

"The Effect of Expanding Medicaid Eligibility on Supplemental Security Income Program Participation"

MARGUERITE BURNS, University of Wisconsin-Madison
LAURA DAGUE, Texas A&M University - George Bush School of Government and Public Service

Low-income adults without dependent children have historically had few paths to obtain public health insurance unless they qualified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash benefits because of a disability. However, in states that expand their Medicaid programs, childless adults may obtain Medicaid without undergoing an intensive SSI disability review process and with substantially higher income and assets than the SSI program allows. This expanded availability of Medicaid coverage, independent of SSI participation, creates an opportunity to increase earnings and savings without jeopardizing health insurance coverage. In this paper, we use the natural experiments created by state decisions to expand Medicaid to nondisabled, nonelderly adults without dependent children to study the effect of decoupling Medicaid eligibility and cash assistance using a difference-in-differences study design. We collected data on the income eligibility limits, enrollment caps, and coverage characteristics of state Medicaid expansions to childless adults from 2001-2013. We combine these data with the nationally representative American Community Survey to estimate the effects of state expansion on SSI participation. We find relative declines in SSI participation caused by Medicaid expansions of 0.17 percentage points, a 7% relative decrease; this finding suggests the potential for small but important efficiency gains from separating SSI and Medicaid eligibility.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

GAO: SSA Could Save More on Continuing Disability Reviews with Better Targeting

The Government Accountability Office has a new study analyzing the way that the Social Security Administration chooses disability cases to be reviewed.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) selects cases for continuing disability reviews (CDR) using several inputs, but it does not do so in a manner that maximizes potential savings. SSA first prioritizes CDRs required by law or agency policy such as those for children under 1 year old who are receiving benefits due in part to low birth weight. Then SSA uses statistical models to identify the remaining CDRs to be conducted each year. The models also determine which cases will receive an in-depth review of medical records by the Disability Determination Services—the state agencies that conduct CDRs—versus a lower-cost questionnaire sent directly to the beneficiary. As shown in the figure below, a growing number of cases have been set aside for future review (backlogged) over the last 10 years. Although SSA somewhat considers potential cost savings when selecting cases for in-depth reviews, its approach does not maximize potential savings for the government. For example, estimated average savings from conducting CDRs are higher for some groups of Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries than others, but SSA's selection process does not differentiate among these groups. As a result, it may be missing opportunities to efficiently and effectively use federal resources.

Check out the whole study here.

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Blahous: Telling It Like It Is On Social Security

The Mercatus Institute’s Chuck Blahous, one of Social Security’s Public Trustees, has a new article with some hard facts on Social Security’s future. Check it out here.

Social Security

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Upcoming event: "Does Social Security Continue to Favor Couples?"

National Economists Club, with Nadia Karamcheva, Congressional Budget Office Chinatown Garden Restaurant 618 H St NW
Date: 17 Mar 2016 12:00 PM

Nadia Karamcheva

Analyst – Microeconomic Studies Division

Congressional Budget Office

"Does Social Security Continue to Favor Couples?"

Dr. Karamcheva will discuss recent work that speaks to the adequacy and equity of the Social Security program.  Specifically, she examines how trends in women’s labor force activity and changing marriage patterns affect the returns from the Social Security system at the individual and household levels. The analysis uses data from the Health and Retirement Study, linked to Social Security administrative earnings, and data from the Modeling Income in the Near Term microsimulation model, to examine changes in several measures of redistribution across a broad range of cohorts. The paper then uses decomposition techniques to determine how much women’s increased earnings and the decline in marriage rates have contributed to the changes over time in replacement rates and lifetime benefit to tax ratios.

Nadia Karamcheva is an Analyst in the Microeconomics Studies Division at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Prior to joining CBO she conducted research as an economist at the Urban Institute.  Her research interests span a broad range of topics in labor economics and applied econometrics with a focus on retirement. Her current work explores policy relevant topics related to older workers’ employment and savings outcomes, and individuals’ decision making about claiming social security benefits, retirement timing, private pension plan participation and contributions. Dr. Karamcheva has a Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics from Boston College, and a B.A. from the American University in Bulgaria.

Reservations are open through Wednesday, 3-16-16

Press: Please email : with your attendance status and the date of attendance. It will be assumed that lunch is NOT requested.   If lunch is requested, please contact me in advance, prior to the date of the event, for registration and payment instructions at the member rate.

Credit Card payment is non refundable but you may substitute someone in your place for attendance.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Upcoming Event: Savings and Retirement Foundation with Peter Brady, March 10

Please join us for a meeting of the Savings and Retirement Foundation with guest speaker Peter Brady

He will be discussing his new book:
"How America Supports Retirement: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Who Benefits"
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Noon - 1pm
The Tax Foundation
1325 G Street, NW
Suite 950 
Washington, DC 20005
Lunch will be provided.
This is a widely attended event.
Assuring retirement security is a challenge for American workers, for their employers—and for the country’s policymakers. Government policy supports retirement preparedness primarily through two mechanisms: Social Security, which is a mandatory contributory pension for all workers, and tax deferral, which provides incentives for employers to offer and workers to participate in voluntary retirement plans.  Yet the combined effect of these two mechanisms is poorly understood—and subject to widespread myths.

In a new book, How America Supports Retirement: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Who Benefits, economist Peter Brady of the Investment Company Institute challenges the notion of an “upside-down” retirement system that only benefits the wealthy.
Brady’s innovative work is the first to use a consistent metric—a tax expenditure estimate—to measure the benefits of both tax deferral and Social Security. It illustrates that higher earners benefit more from tax deferral not because of their higher tax rates, but because the design of Social Security creates a strong incentive for them to defer more of their compensation.

In findings that bear directly upon today’s pressing policy debates, Brady demonstrates that the full system of government support for retirement is indeed progressive and warns that tax proposals to limit or fundamentally change tax deferral would actually make the code less fair.

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