Research and Analysis by Kathleen Romig

Understanding the Social Security Family Maximum
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 75, No. 3 (released August 2015)
by Kathleen Romig and Dave Shoffner

Social Security's family maximum rules limit the total benefits payable to a beneficiary's family. Different family maximum rules apply to retirement and survivor benefits than to disability benefits. The rules for calculating family maximum benefits are complicated. In some particularly complex cases, it is difficult to properly implement the family maximum, which can result in over- or underpayments. This article explains how the family maximum rules work and describes their evolution. The authors use Modeling Income in the Near Term, Version 6 data to analyze who is affected by the family maximum and to what extent their benefits are changed.

Modeling Behavioral Responses to Eliminating the Retirement Earnings Test
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 73, No. 1 (released February 2013)
by Anya Olsen and Kathleen Romig

The retirement earnings test (RET) is an often-misunderstood aspect of the Social Security program. Policymakers have proposed reforming the RET as a way to encourage working at older ages. However, this could also cause earlier benefit claiming. We use Modeling Income in the Near Term data to analyze the complete repeal of the earnings test for beneficiaries aged 60 or older, first assuming no behavioral responses to repeal and secondly assuming changes to benefit claiming and workforce participation behaviors. Our lifetime results show that the assumed behavioral response—particularly the benefit claiming change—has a bigger effect than the RET policy change itself.

A Profile of Children with Disabilities Receiving SSI: Highlights from the National Survey of SSI Children and Families
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 66, No. 2 (released May 2006)
by Kalman Rupp, Paul S. Davies, Chad Newcomb, Howard M. Iams, Carrie Becker, Shanti Mulpuru, Stephen Ressler, Kathleen Romig, and Baylor Miller

This article, based on interviews from the National Survey of SSI Children and Families conducted between July 2001 and June 2002, presents a profile of children under the age of 18 who were receiving support from the Supplemental Security Income program. The topics highlighted provide information of SSI children with disabilities and their families not available from administrative records, including demographic characteristics, income and assets, perceived health and disabilities, and health care utilization. While virtually every child in the SSI program is covered by some form of health insurance, primarily Medicaid, the data indicate substantial heterogeneity on other variables. This is true on many different dimensions, such as the perceived severity of the child's disabling conditions, health care utilization and service needs, the presence of other family members with disabilities, family demographics, and access to non-SSI sources of incomes.