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The TANF-SSI Disability Transition Project

Image of a woman looking at a graphics chart that shows measurement in bars.A recent OPRE report examines two income support programs that are important for many low-income people with disabilities.

The TANF-SSI Disability Transition Project (TSDTP)explores how ACF's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) interacts with Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program of the Social Security Administration (SSA).  SSI is a program that provides income support specifically for low-income people with disabilities. TANF and SSI differ in many ways, and maintain separate data systems. While interest has built around the relationship between the two programs, a clear picture remained elusive.

A recent report from this project sheds new light on the topic by merging and analyzing data from the two programs. Key findings include the following:

  • Less than 10 percent of TANF recipients had an open SSI application, and just 6 percent of adults applying for SSI received TANF benefits within a year of the application.
  • Most TANF recipients who apply for SSI do so long before nearing their federal benefit time limit.
  • TANF recipients who applied for SSI were slightly less likely to be found disabled than other SSI applicants. Much of this difference is explained by differences in demographic characteristics like age.

Naomi Goldstein is director of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the Department of Health and Human Services. She is responsible for advising the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families on increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of ACF programs.

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