From a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO):
In May 2013, an estimated 15 percent of the 7.2 million households with blind, aged, and disabled individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash benefits included more than one SSI recipient, according to GAO’s data analysis. Of the estimated 1.1 million households with multiple SSI recipients, most included two recipients (953, 000) and at least one adult recipient between ages 18 and 64 (695,000). Most households with multiple recipients did not have any child recipients, though an estimated 190,000 had one child recipient, 111,000 had two, and 3 0,000 had three or more. Few households reported having married couple recipients (an estimated 90,000). Most multiple recipient households reported that members of one family — those related by birth, marriage, or adoption —lived in the household (an estimated 941,000). GAO was unable to determine the specific relationships of recipients in these households.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provided households with multiple SSI recipients almost 30 percent, or an estimated $1.2 billion , of the total $4.3 billion paid in SSI benefits in May 2013, according to GAO’s data analysis. In that month, multiple recipient households received an estimated average of $1,131 in SSI benefits, compared to $507 for single recipient households. Further, consistent with federal law that applies a lower maximum benefit rate to married couple recipients, GAO’s analysis found that households with nonmarried multiple recipients received a higher estimated average monthly benefit payment than married recipient households. ...
[A]ccording to SSA staff, SSA’s claims management system lacks the ability to automatically connect and adjust claim records of those living in households with other SSI recipients, as it is structured around providing benefits to individuals. For example, if a mother lives with two of her children who are both SSI recipients, and the mother reports changes to her income, SSA’s system does not automatically adjust both children’s benefit amounts to account for this change in income. In addition, the system is unable to automatically process claims when two SSI recipients marry or separate, so staff must manually complete forms and calculate benefits outside the claims management system, which is time consuming and error prone, according to staff GAO spoke with in three of five selected field offices . SSA officials said the agency has not assessed the risks associated with the system’s limited ability to automatically process claims for multiple recipient households, and has no plans to improve the claims management system to address related issues. ...To be sure, there are some issues with households with multiple SSI recipients but the Republican interest in the subject seems to harken back to Ronald Reagan's fables (and they were fables with little basis is fact) about "welfare queens." Households with more than one SSI recipient are hardly living large on $1,131 per month. There's almost never a sinister explanation for why there is more than one SSI recipient in a household. Usually, it has to do with factors such as people who are mentally ill associating with each other (because that's who will associate with them) and families with more than one child suffering from the same congenital abnormality.