Outcomes After Initial Receipt of Social Security Benefits Among Homeless Veterans With Mental Illness

University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, United States
Psychiatric Services (Impact Factor: 2.41). 01/2001; 51(12):1549-54. DOI: 10.1176/
Source: PubMed


This study examined the relationship between receiving disability payments and changes in health status, community adjustment, and subjective quality of life.
The study evaluated outcomes among homeless mentally ill veterans who applied for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income through a special outreach program. Veterans who were awarded benefits were compared with those who were denied benefits; their sociodemographic characteristics, clinical status, and social adjustment were evaluated just before receiving the initial award decision and again three months later.
Beneficiaries (N=50) did not differ from those were denied benefits (N=123) on any baseline sociodemographic or clinical characteristics. However, beneficiaries were more willing to delay gratification, as reflected in scores on a time preference measure. Three months after the initial decision, beneficiaries had significantly higher total incomes and reported a higher quality of life. They spent more on housing, food, clothing, transportation, and tobacco products but not on alcohol or illegal drugs. No differences were found between groups on standardized measures of psychiatric status or substance abuse.
Receipt of disability payments is associated with improved subjective quality of life and is not associated with increased alcohol or drug use.

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Available from: David J Dausey, Mar 12, 2014
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    • "The link between the transfer program payments and substance abuse – a phenomenon sometimes referred to as the 'full wallets' hypothesis – has been documented by Verhuel et al. (1997), Rosenheck et al. (2000), Maynard and Cox (2000), Halpern and Mechem (2001), Swartz et al. (2003), Riddell and Riddell (2006), and Li et al. (2007). In the most detailed study to date, Dobkin and Puller (2007) use administrative records from California to show a within-month "
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    • "The largest and most direct literature is that surrounding what is called the 'full wallets' hypothesis, which suggests that the receipt of income encourages drug and alcohol abuse in some populations. Papers by Verhuel et al. (1997), Rosenheck et al. 2000, Maynard and Cox (2000), Halpern and Mechem (2001), Riddell and Riddell (2006), and Li et al. (2007) have found such a relationship. In the most detailed study to date, Dobkin and Puller (2007) use administrative records from California to show that hospital admissions and within-hospital mortality increases among Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Income recipients immediately after they are paid. "
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    • "Other studies have specifically focused on the increased prevalence of substance abuse and related harm around the beginning of the month, the so-called ''check effect'' (Grossman et al. 1997; Phillips, Christenfeld, and Ryan 1999; Catalano et al. 2000; Halpern and Mechem 2001). However, no differences in drug use were observed in a comparison of homeless persons who received public support payments over a 3-month period and those who did not (Rosenheck, Lam, and Randolph 1997) and no increased substance use was found among homeless veterans awarded supplemental security income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) compared with veterans whose applications were denied (Rosenheck et al. 2000). A cross-sectional analysis of 2,474 veterans enrolled in an outreach program also found no greater substance use among those receiving disability payments than among those not receiving them (Frisman and Rosenheck 1997). "
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