Supplemental Security Income Recipients As a Share of the Total Population of the Same Age

Supplemental Security Income: An Overview

In fiscal year 2013, more than 8 million people will receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments at a federal cost of about $50 billion.

  • SSI provides cash assistance to people who are disabled, aged, or both and who have low income and few assets.
  • Over the last two decades, participation in SSI among disabled adults (ages 18 to 64) has increased substantially, partly because of the relaxing of eligibility rules. In contrast, the share of the aged (65 or over) who participate has declined steadily.

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Shares of Business Receipts by Form of Taxation

Taxing Businesses Through the Individual Income Tax

Business activity subject to individual rather than corporate income tax has grown, reducing federal revenues but probably promoting investment.

  • In 1980, 83 percent of firms were organized as pass-through entities—that is, businesses subject to the individual income tax—and they accounted for 14 percent of business receipts.
  • In 2007, those shares had increased to 94 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

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Unemployment Insurance in the Wake of the Recent Recession

Temporary unemployment insurance benefits are set to expire at the end of 2012. Between 2007 and 2010, unemployment benefits expanded nearly five-fold owing to:

  • High unemployment due to the weak economy, and
  • Decisions by policymakers to increase the number of weeks for which eligible unemployed workers could receive benefits.

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Combined Effects of Federal and State Income Taxes, Payroll Taxes, and SNAP Benefits

Effective Marginal Tax Rates for Low- and Moderate-Income Workers

Effective marginal tax rates among low- and moderate-income workers are about 30 percent, on average, with about one-third of that rate stemming from the federal income tax, more than a third from federal payroll taxes, and the remainder from state income taxes and the phaseout of SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps).

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Choices for Deficit Reduction

Putting the federal budget on a more sustainable path is likely to require a combination of policies, many of which may stand in stark contrast to policies now in place.

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Economic Effects of Policies Contributing to Fiscal Tightening in 2013

Significant tax increases and spending cuts are slated to take effect in January 2013, sharply reducing the federal budget deficit and causing, by CBO’s estimates, a decline in economic output and an increase in unemployment. What would be the economic effects of eliminating various components of that fiscal tightening—or what some term the fiscal cliff?

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