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Melvin Stephens

Filling holes in the safety net? Material hardship and subjective well-being among disability benefit applicants and recipients after the 1996 welfare reform

Publication Abstract

Schmidt, Lucie G., and Sheldon H. Danziger. 2012. "Filling holes in the safety net? Material hardship and subjective well-being among disability benefit applicants and recipients after the 1996 welfare reform." Social Science Research, 41(6): 1581-97.

Some of the rapid recent growth in disability income receipt in the United States is attributable to single mothers post-welfare reform. Yet, we know little about how disability benefit receipt affects the economic well-being of single mother families, or how unsuccessful disability applicants fare. We compare disability recipients to unsuccessful applicants and those who never applied among current and former welfare recipients, and examine how application and receipt affect material hardships and subjective measures of well-being. We then examine whether alternative ways of making ends meet mediate differences in well-being. After controlling for alternative sources of support, no significant differences in overall actual hardships or difficulty living on current income remained between the three groups. However, even after controlling for these strategies, unsuccessful applicants were significantly more likely to report that they expected hardships in the next two months. Our results suggest a pervasive level of economic insecurity among unsuccessful applicants.

DOI:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2012.06.001 (Full Text)

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