Homelessness, Hunger and Material Hardships Among Those Who Lost SSI

The nine-city SSI Study followed 1764 randomly sampled recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for Drug Addiction and Alcoholism (DA&A) for two years after program termination in January 1997. About one-third of respondents requalified for SSI benefits, and about half of those who lost benefits replaced 50% or more of their baseline income with public assistance, wages, or help from family or friends. We examined the effects of loss of benefits and income replacement on six hardship indicators. Material hardship rates were high even at baseline. Over the follow-up period, hardships were 60% to 70% more likely among those who lost SSI benefits and were unable to replace half of baseline income. Alcohol, drug, social, and legal problems also increased the odds of housing and food-related hardships. Physical and mental health problems increased hunger but not housing problems. Those who did not replace half their income were 10 times more likely than those who retained SSI to double-up in housing during the follow-up.