Describes the basic Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability determination process and compares it to several procedures different Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) agencies use to identify TANF eligibility.

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, administered by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI)  program have “common goals of supporting vulnerable populations while encouraging their self-sufficiency and employment” (p.iii).  However, “the two agencies’ differing missions, definitions of disability, and rules and incentives related to work pose challenges to coordinating their efforts” (p.iii). 

“This brief [described] the basic SSI disability determination process and [compared] and [contrasted] it with several procedures different TANF agencies use to identify recipients who meet TANF work limitation criteria in states or localities. It [discussed] some of the different strategies TANF agencies use to gauge which individuals are most likely to qualify for SSI and thus should perhaps apply for it. It [included] some observations about the key decisions facing clients with disabilities in navigating the two programs. Lastly, it [reviewed] the employment support programs that both SSA and state TANF agencies provide to people with disabilities who can work” (p.iii). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

• “[TANF/SSI Disability Transition Project] TSDTP focus groups and interviews showed that some TANF recipients make SSI application decisions based on the fact that SSI provides a higher benefit. And the financial benefits of SSI are higher than TANF; in the sites profiled for the TSDTP, a family of one adult and two children would gain on average $625 more per month if the adult were receiving SSI instead of TANF” (p.8). • “TSDTP found new SSI applicants in Fiscal Year 2007 averaged 8.4 total months of processing time from the earliest application to the final decision on their last application. With this in mind, public assistance administrators may choose to identify opportunities to improve employment outcomes for people who have work limitations” (p.10). • “Specific programs and individually tailored, ability-focused supports may have a positive effect on employment outcomes for TANF recipients with work for limitations.” TANF administrators can consider approaches such as motivational interviewing, disability-specific services, and supported employment (p.10-11). • “TANF staff members reported that the training and technical assistance in SSI processes improved their understanding of the SSI program” (p.12). • “Based on TSDTP field research, current interactions among TANF, SSA, and [Disability Determination Services] DDS are generally limited and are often informal, locally based, and driven by personal relationships” (p.14). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)