This appendix defines the measures used in this report and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) variables used to create each measure. It also includes a description of our comparison groups and definitions for work that are used in the report.
Family Head Disability Measures
- Self-care limitations — Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – because of a physical, mental, or emotional problem, person needs the help of others with personal care needs such as eating, bathing, dressing, or getting around inside this home.
- Routine activities limitations — Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) – because of a physical mental or emotional problem, person needs the help of others in handling routine needs such as everyday household chores, doing necessary business, shopping, or getting around for other purposes.
- Movement — person says, because of a health problem, they can’t do at all or it is very difficult to do any one of the following by themselves without the use of special equipment: walk a quarter of a mile (about three city blocks); walk up 10 steps without resting; stand or be on your feet for about two hours; sit for about two hours; stoop, bend, or kneel; reach over your head; use your fingers to grasp or handle small objects; lift or carry something as heavy as 10 pounds such as a bag full of groceries; push or pull large objects like a living room chair. (Those reporting they do not do a specific activity are not counted as having a movement limitation.)
- Emotional/mental — A score of 13 or greater on the K6 serious psychological distress scale which measures psychological distress associated with unspecified but serious mental illness.(9)
- Sensory — person describes their hearing ability without a hearing aid as “a lot of trouble” or deaf OR person reports they are blind and unable to se at all.
- Cognitive — person is limited in any way because of difficulty in remembering or because they experience periods of confusion.
- Social limitations — person reports they can’t do at all or it is very difficult to do any one of the following: go out to things like shopping, movies, or sporting events; participate in social activities such as visiting friends, attending clubs and meetings, going to parties; do thing to relax at home or for leisure (reading, watching TV, sewing, listening to music). (Those reporting they do not do a specific activity are not counted as having a social limitation.)
- Work limitations — a physical, mental, or emotional problem now keeps the person from working at a job or businesses OR limits the kind or amount of work a person can do.
- Public Disability Benefit Recipient — the receipt of government sponsored disability benefits - Supplemental Security Income, Social Security, or Railroad Retirement income, for one’s own disability in the previous year.
- Private Disability Benefit Recipient — receipt of income from any disability pension other than Social Security or Railroad Retirement in the previous year.
- Excessive Alcohol Use — consumed greater than or equal to five drinks in one day at least 12 times during the past 12 months.(10)
- Disability1 — In any of the above categories 1 through 11
- Disability2 — In category #1 (self-care) or #2 (routine needs)
Disability among Family Members
- Other Adult Disability1 — other adult family member has self-care or routine activity limitations as defined above
- Other Adult Disability2 — other adult family member has work limitations as defined above
- Other Adult Disability3 — other adult family member receives government disability benefits (SSI/DI/RR) or private disability benefits
- Child Disability1 — child family member (age 3+) has self-care limitation OR child family member (age 0-4) is limited or unable to participate in age-appropriate play
- Child Disability2 — child receives public disability benefits (SSI)
- Family Disability — any family member in any of the above five family definitions
Combined Family Head and Member Disability
- Head and Family1 — Family head has disability (Disability1 above) and Family Disability
- Head and Family2 — Family head has disability (Disability2 above) and Family Disability
- Head or Familly1 — Family head has disability (Disability1 above) or Family Disability
- Head or Family2 — Family head has disability (Disability2 above) or Family Disability
One important consideration in using the NHIS to measure disability is that some questions are asked for all family members while others are asked only of sample adults or sample children. This means that adults or children are chosen at random from all those in the family to respond to certain sets of questions. Using appropriate weighting, these sample family member questions can be used to provide prevalence estimates for adults or children. However, this structure limits our ability to use these questions to create estimates of TANF recipients who have a family member with a disability or to create composite measures of disability. For example, since questions on physical movement limitations are asked only of sample adults, we cannot provide estimates of the percentage of TANF recipients who have a family member with these limitations. In the same way, a measure of adults who report any of the many disability measures we include is not symmetrically constructed if some adults are asked more disability questions than others. For this reason, we limit our sample to adults who are chosen as the sample respondent. This limits our sample size but allows us to use a broader array of disability measures.
Sample / Comparison Group Definition Measures
The three groups for comparison in the study are individuals ages 21 to 55 defined as follows.
- TANF Recipients - defined as individuals responding that someone in the family received cash assistance for at least one month in the prior year from a state or county welfare program.
- Food Stamp Recipients - defined as individuals that responded someone in the family received food stamps at any time in the last calendar year.
- Low-Income Single Mother Families – defined as single women with children whose family income was less than 200 percent of poverty in the prior year.
We start with age 21 because marital status in the NHIS is not defined for those under age 21. Because we are primarily concerned with work status, we do not include individuals beyond age 55.
Definitions of Work
The survey asks about work in the last week as well as work in the past year. We report on three definitions of work: current work which is measured at the same time as the disability measures, full-time current work, and a broader measure of worked last year.
- Employed – Those working for pay at a job or business or with a job or business but not at work in the past week
- Full-time Employed – Those employed (above) who usually work 35 hours or more a week.
- Employed Last Year – Those who worked for pay at any time in the last year.