Feb 13, 2016

When Will They Ever Learn?

     From a "Policy Futures" paper by Kathleen Romig for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP):
The October 2015 budget agreement extended the solvency of the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund into 2022 and renewed the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) authority to conduct demonstration projects, allowing the agency to test ideas to encourage work among DI beneficiaries and applicants.  This creates an opportunity to build further evidence on the efficacy of various ideas to encourage work among this population. 
New demonstrations will likely produce only limited results, however.  SSA has conducted many work-incentive experiments over the past 25 years, and none has led to a significant number of beneficiaries earning enough to support themselves and leave DI.  This result should not come as a surprise.  DI’s eligibility criteria are strict.  Few DI beneficiaries are able to work.  Still fewer are likely to be able to return to self-supporting work on a sustained basis. ...
SSA Work-Incentive Experiments Have Shown Only Limited Results
Demonstration Years Description Effects
Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) 2009-2017 Testing a $1-for-$2 benefit offset for earnings above SGA level, with additional work supports for “Phase 2” beneficiaries
  • Small effects on earnings (Phase 2 only)
  • Increased benefit payments
Accelerated Benefits Demonstration 2004-2011 Provided health care to DI beneficiaries during 24-month waiting period for Medicare, with additional medical and work supports for “AB Plus” beneficiaries
  • Improved health outcomes
  • Negligible effect on employment
  • For AB Plus, greater use of return-to-work services, but some evidence employment effects are temporary
Mental Health Treatment Study 2003-2011 Provided medical and employment supports to beneficiaries with schizophrenia or affective disorders
  • Improved employment and earnings
  • Improved mental health status
  • No impact on earnings above SGA
  • No impact on benefits
Benefit Offset: Four-State Pilot 2003-2009 Replaced “cash cliff” with a $1-for-$2 offset for earnings above SGA level, with additional work supports
  • Small increase in earnings above SGA
  • No effect on mean earnings
  • No effect on employment
  • Effects varied by participant subgroup
Youth Transition Demonstration 2001-2014 Waived SSI income and asset rules, provided state-designed employment and education supports for young DI and SSI beneficiaries
  • Little to no effect on employment and earnings
  • SSA periodically revisiting outcomes
Ticket to Work 1999-present Provides vocational rehabilitation and work support from employment networks (Ticket to Work is a change in law, not a demonstration)
  • Increased use of return-to-work services
  • Little effect on employment
  • Little effect on benefits
State Partnership Initiative 1998-2006 Tested variety of state-designed interventions, including Medicaid waivers and employment services for DI and SSI beneficiaries
  • Small and mixed effects on employment
  • No effect — or negative effect — on earnings
Project NetWork 1991-1999 Offered intensive outreach, work-incentive waivers, and case management services to DI and SSI applicants and recipients
  • Small short-term effect on earnings
  • No effect on benefits


Anonymous said...

Agreed! I've been saying it for decades. "If I'm sick or hurt enough to get approved, then I'm too sick/hurt to work." Hell, 70% of those they DENY can't work full time, long term, real world. But hey, let's give some more bureaucrats and contractors jobs. In fairness I think most folks at SSA recognize this. It's our Legislators, in their infinite wisdom, who continue to thrash away at the dead horse.

Anonymous said...

If everyone on social security is too sick to EVER work again, then why not just make it permanent and forget about work incentives that don't work and save money on disbanding medical reviews?

Make the system for adults only, nothing for children since they aren't working anyway. 18 and older, permanently disabled, lifetime benefits...I'm sure that would help right?

Anonymous said...

It is not the Claimant that needs a program but the employer. Many employers will not hire the disabled in fear that they will have increased liability and increased healthcare premiums. Ask anybody in a wheelchair what the expression is on the face of HR when they come to get them for a interview from the lobby. They all know the face and know it will be the shortest possible interview.