Disability Projects

In addition to our demonstrations, we conduct other projects examining ways to change and improve the disability process and programs.

Benefit Offset—Ancillary Research

We are conducting ancillary research that uses the Benefit Offset National Demonstration data and data from other sources to provide policymakers with additional information on the potential effects of a change in the SSDI program rules that would allow beneficiaries to work and keep a portion of their benefits. The ancillary research falls within two themes. The first is research that will allow us to produce better estimates on the potential for induced entry into the SSDI program resulting from a change in the SSDI program rules. The second is research that will allow us to produce better estimates on the effect of changes in the structure of a benefit offset on costs and benefits of a new SSDI benefit offset policy.

A paper that describes the strengths and limitations of various research designs to estimate induced entry is available at Approaches to Evaluating Induced Entry.

A report that develops specific research designs to estimate induced entry is available at Research Designs for Estimating Induced Entry.

Occupational Information System Project

In our disability adjudication process, we need information about work that exists nationally to determine whether claimants’ impairments prevent them from doing not only their past work, but other work in the U.S. economy.  We currently use the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) and its companion volume, the Selected Characteristics of Occupations, as our primary sources of information about jobs and job requirements.  However, the Department of Labor (DOL) last updated the DOT in 1991 and has no plans to conduct further updates.  As a result, we have signed an interagency agreement with the DOL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics to test the feasibility of using the National Compensation Survey platform to collect updated occupational information that will meet our program needs.  For more information about the project, please visit our OIS project page.

Promoting Readiness of Minors in SSI (PROMISE)

We are working with the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services to improve outcomes for youths who receive Supplemental Security Income and their families by facilitating positive changes in: health status; physical and emotional development; completion of education and training; and, eventually, employment opportunities. The Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services awarded grants to the following five States: Arkansas, California, Maryland, New York, and Wisconsin; and one consortium of States made up of Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, and Arizona.  The States designed and will provide the program services, and we awarded a contract to Mathematica Policy Research (MPR) to evaluate the programs.

For more information about the PROMISE evaluation, visit our PROMISE project page.  For more information on the PROMISE projects, see the Department of Education’s PROMISE web site.

Quick Disability Determinations (QDD) Predictive Model and the Fast-Track Processes

The Predictive Model is a computer-based screening tool that we use to identify potential electronic cases for the QDD process.

We originally implemented the QDD process in the six States in our Boston Region (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) in August 2006. We then implemented the QDD process nationally between October 2007 and February 2008.

For additional information on the QDD Predictive Model, see the Quick Disability Determinations (QDD) homepage. For additional information on the Fast-Track Processes, see the Fast-Track Processes homepage. For the Fast-Track Processes public use files, see the Public Use Files homepage.

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

RETAIN is a joint project with the Department of Labor (DOL) testing 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 are to reduce long-term disability – including the need for SSDI or SSI benefits – and to increase employment retention and labor force participation among those individuals. DOL awarded grants to eight states (California, Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, Vermont, and Washington) to conduct initial planning and pilot activities. States will begin enrolling participants for small pilot tests in summer 2019, and selected states will continue to full implementation lasting through September 2023. The state projects will test a variety of ways to improve the early coordination of health care and employment-related supports and services for participating workers, including training health care providers in occupational health best practices and facilitating communication and return-to-work efforts between workers, their employers, and their health care providers. We awarded a contract to Mathematica Policy Research (MPR) to evaluate the state projects.

For more information about our RETAIN evaluation, visit our RETAIN project page. For more information on the RETAIN State projects, see the Department of Labor’s RETAIN web site.

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.  ICAP projects will address the following topics:

  • Promoting attachment to the labor force or increasing the employment of people receiving, applying for, or at risk of receiving DI or SSI benefits; 
  • Reducing or preventing dependency on DI or SSI benefits, including by children and youth;
  • Coordinating planning between private and public welfare agencies to improve the administration and effectiveness the DI, SSI, and related programs;
  • Assisting claimants in vulnerable populations apply for or appeal decisions on claims for DI and SSI benefits; and
  • Conducting outreach to children with disabilities who are potentially eligible to receive SSI.

    Please see the ICAP project page for more information, including awarded projects and additional information about when SSA will accept applications for this funding opportunity.

Beyond Benefits Study (formerly Exits from Disability Study)

Beyond Benefits Study Description

This is a one-page overview of the Beyond Benefits Study. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is conducting the Beyond Benefits Study to collect information about the service, medical, and employment needs of working-age adults exiting Social Security disability programs due to medical improvement. This overview describes the data collection activities planned and the goals of the study.

Motivational Interviewing Literature Review Memo

Recently, there has been an increasing emphasis on the use of “Motivational Interviewing” (MI) to identify and address the employment challenges among people with disabilities. This memo provides a literature review on the effectiveness of MI in various populations and discusses its utilization to foster employment and job advancement among people with disabilities. 

SSA-FMG Office Visitor Focus Groups

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a contract with Fors Marsh Group (FMG) to conduct office visitor focus groups. We are conducting focus groups to learn more about: (1) the quality and timing of the services received from SSA; (2) feedback on how SSA’s services met, or did not meet, your expectations; (3) the use of the different contact methods (e.g., in-person services, online services, telephone services, video services); and (4) ideas on how SSA may improve services in the future. We will use this information to identify ways that SSA may improve its services.

Please visit the customer focus group participant website for more information.