Young adults face enormous economic, social and psychological challenges when they transition into adulthood. This transition can be especially overwhelming and daunting for young adults with disabilities. Among the challenges young adults with disabilities are faced with are greater risk of low food security and barriers to healthcare. This study examines how the transition to adulthood may affect food security, health, and access to healthcare for youth with disabilities, and estimates the effects that SNAP has on this group in those turbulent years.
The study used five years of data (2011-2015) from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). We combined the public and restricted NHIS data with the state SNAP policy variables. The sample included low-income individuals ages 13-25 (and their families) to reflect the life stage from pre-transition, to transition, and then to post-transition. Analyses were conducted at the Census Research Data Center in Columbia, MO. A difference-in-difference (DID) approach in linear models was applied to compare individuals with and without disabilities regarding changes in food security status and their health-related outcomes in the transition to adulthood. State SNAP policy variables were used as exogenous instruments to estimate the effects of SNAP participation on food security and health/healthcare use for youth and young adults with disabilities in the models of instrumental variables.
The study’s limitations are closely examined with a focus on the constraints that we had in the DID analysis and the IV analysis. We also suggested directions for future research. Since food security likely has a profound impact on the long-term development, economic independence, and self-sufficiency, we discussed a few policy strategies that may help individuals with disabilities in their transition to adulthood. These include special outreach services to improve SNAP accessibility, an embedded alert system that serves to bring awareness of a SNAP participant’s upcoming transition to adulthood, incorporation of nutrition assistance in transition planning for youth, and better coordination of multiple public programs. (Author abstract)