Describes findings from a process and impact evaluation of a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pilot project in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Social Security Disability Insurance Employment Pilot (SSDI-EP) has been one of four small state based projects authorized by the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) to begin testing a proposed benefit offset feature for the SSDI program. The main purpose of the pilots was to inform the design of a national demonstration of the benefit offset feature by providing SSA with information about implementation and preliminary findings about whether a SSDI benefit offset would result in desired increases in employment related outcomes. Results from both process and implementation evaluations of the Wisconsin pilot are contained within this report. (p. ix). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full Publication Title: Testing a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefit Offset: An Evaluation of the Wisconsin SSDI Employment Pilot


Major Findings & Recommendations

• The SSDI-EP was able to mobilize a network of partners to implement a benefit offset pilot on a statewide basis. The SSDI-EP provided the training, technical assistance, and program monitoring capacity that allowed a highly decentralized program to operate much as planned. • The SSDI-EP was able to use its technical assistance structure to meet unanticipated needs or to perform anticipated tasks at much higher levels of demand than originally expected. In particular, central office staff members were able to meet major challenges involved in ensuring successful completion of a large number of work reviews and responding to problems, such as delayed or inaccurate checks and/or resolving large overpayments. • In both surveys and focus groups, virtually all participants characterized benefits counseling as an important, even critical service.... • Only 21% of those in the treatment group had used the offset provision through mid-year 2009. • There were no statistically significant differences between the employment outcomes trends for those in the treatment group compared to those for control group members during the primary post-entry analysis period of Q0-Q8. • Participants achieved much larger percentage gains in employment outcomes in the year prior to entering the pilot than in the two years following entry. • The interactions between benefits counseling, attitudinal change, and achieving better employment outcomes appear complex and, for those in the treatment group, counterintuitive. Those in the treatment group with higher levels of fear entering the pilot or who had increased fear over time had better outcome trajectories than those with the lowest levels of fear or who appeared to have become less fearful over time. These findings suggest the possibility that benefits counseling may not always need to reduce fears in order to be effective in supporting better employment outcomes. • The Mixed Model Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) results were congruent with findings from previous studies that those who work and have relatively high employment outcomes after entering a disability program are likely to continue doing so. Covariates such as Unemployment Insurance (UI) earnings in the year prior to entering the SSDI-EP explained far more of the variance in the models (sometimes as much as half) then the statistically significant indicators of benefits counseling, fear of benefit loss, or self-efficacy. (p. 312-318) (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)