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SSI for Disabled Immigrants: Why Do Ethnic Networks Matter?

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Publication Date: February 2013

Publisher(s): Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Author(s): Delia Furtado; Nikolaos Theodoropoulos


Special Collection:

Topic: Economics (Property and wealth)
Labor (Labor conditions, wages, salaries, and benefits)
Population and demographics (Older people)

Keywords: Social Security Disability Insurance

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Immigrants residing among many people who share their ethnic background are especially likely to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for a disability when they belong to high SSI take-up immigrant groups. After showing that this relationship cannot be fully explained by differences in health, we consider the likely sources of these network effects by separately examining their role in the decision to apply for SSI and, conditional on applying, their role in determining who ultimately receives benefits. Our results suggest that networks may increase the probability of applying for SSI despite minor disabilities, but it is unlikely that network effects are driven by egregious lies on applications.