Social Security conducts numerous research and demonstration projects to study ways to improve services to our current and future beneficiaries. We support a number of demonstrations and projects intended to address the broad needs of beneficiaries with disabilities. These projects can lead to ways to better serve individuals with disabilities including potentially changing program rules to allow for better coordination among other Federal and State programs. We also receive funding for projects through specific congressional mandates. These projects support specific program changes or outreach activities targeted to populations in particular need.

Interventional Cooperative Agreement Program (ICAP)

ICAP allows SSA to enter into cooperative agreements to collaborate with States, private foundations, and other non-federal groups and organizations who have the interest and ability to identify, operate, and partially fund interventional research related to the Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs.

Promoting Work Through Early Intervention Project (PWEIP)

This is a 5-year joint project between SSA and the Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Children and Families. Seeking to evaluate early intervention programs and employment support models designed to produce favorable economic outcomes among low-income individuals who have little work experience and ties to public assistance programs. Primary interests include evaluations of programs that support individuals with disabilities who may apply for SSI as well as people facing opioid and other substance abuse issues.

Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN)

RETAIN, a joint project with the Department of Labor (DOL), tests early interventions to help workers stay at work or return to work quickly after experiencing the onset of a work-threatening injury, illness, or disability. The policy goals involve reducing long-term disability, including reliance on SSDI or SSI benefits, while increasing employment retention and labor force participation among those individuals. DOL awarded cooperative agreements to states to implement RETAIN projects, and SSA will evaluate the project.

Accelerated Benefits

In this demonstration, we tested whether providing medical benefits sooner to SSDI beneficiaries would improve health outcomes and result in less long-term dependency on cash benefits.

Benefit Offset - Four-State Pilot

The Benefit Offset Four-State Pilot Demonstration involved Connecticut, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.  We tested a $1 reduction in SSDI benefits for every $2 in earnings in combination with employment supports, with the goal of helping beneficiaries with disabilities return to work.

Benefit Offset - National Demonstration (BOND)

The purpose of the Benefit Offset project was to determine the effect of various interventions, in combination with a benefit offset, on employment outcomes including wages, benefits, hours worked, and job retention. We tested a $1 reduction in benefits for every $2 in earnings over substantial gainful activity levels, in combination with benefits counseling, with the goal of helping beneficiaries with disabilities return to work.

Disability Program Navigator (DPN)

The goal of this project was to facilitate services for people with disabilities; improve access to programs and services; facilitate links with the employer community; develop strategies to meet employers’ recruitment and retention needs; increase employment and self-sufficiency for people with disabilities; and develop ongoing partnerships to take full advantage of all resources.

Homeless Outreach Projects & Evaluation (HOPE)

The HOPE initiative focused on assisting eligible, chronically homeless individuals in applying for SSI and SSDI benefits. We developed the project to test the effectiveness of using skilled medical and social service providers to identify and engage homeless individuals with disabling conditions and assist them in filing for benefits within current policy.

Mental Health Treatment Study (MHTS)

MHTS evaluated the impact that better access to treatment and employment support services would have on outcomes such as medical recovery, functioning, employment, and benefit receipt for Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries with a primary impairment of schizophrenia or affective disorder.

Promoting Opportunity Demonstration (POD)

POD tested simplified work incentives and a benefit offset in the Social Security Disability Insurance program to determine its effects on outcomes such as earnings, employment, and benefit payments. Section 823 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 directed the agency to carry out POD.

Promoting Readiness of Minors in SSI (PROMISE)

PROMISE was a joint project with the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services to promote positive outcomes for children who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and their families. The goal of PROMISE was to improve the provision and coordination of services to promote education and employment outcomes resulting in long-term reductions in the child’s reliance on SSI.

State Partnership Initiative (SPI)

SSA partnered with the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to fund eighteen State demonstrations to develop innovative projects to assist individuals with disabilities in their efforts to reenter the workforce. These awards helped States develop State-wide programs of services and support for their residents with disabilities that increased job opportunities for them and decreased the dependence on benefits, including SSDI and SSI.

Supported Employment Demonstration (SED)

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 (Pub. L. 113-235) appropriated funds to design, develop, and implement an early intervention demonstration to test innovative strategies aimed at helping people with disabilities remain in the workforce.

Technical Expert Panels (TEPS)

TEPs provided a forum for stakeholders and other experts to provide interactive feedback on a proposed demonstration.

Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD)

YTD assisted youths, aged 14 to 25, with disabilities to successfully transition from school to economic self-sufficiency. The beneficiaries who participated in this demonstration were youths who were receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments based on their own disability, or who were at risk of receiving SSI or SSDI benefits.

Lessons Learned
We held a virtual state of the science meeting in June 2021 to discuss the lessons learned from our past demonstrations. To find out more about the event, including accessing the slides and learning about the planned release of a published volume of the papers in the fall, please see our Lessons Learned project page.

Reports to Congress
Each year, we send a demonstration project report to Congress. The most recent report is the 2022 Annual Report on Section 234 Demonstration Projects.