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New Mathematica Policy Article on Long-Term Work Activity and Use of Employment Supports for Supplemental Security Income Recipients

March 30, 2015

Professional staff from the Mathematica Policy Research’s Center for Studying Disability Policy has published a new article in the Social Security Bulletin exploring long-term cumulative statistics on work and employment supports used by Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries from 1996 to 2006. The study aimed to assess the effectiveness of SSI work incentives, such as the Ticket to Work program for people with disabilities, in removing people from the rolls by returning them to work. SSI work incentives seek to minimize reliance on benefits by providing and funding supports for seeking employment, while also allowing beneficiaries to continue receiving payments after unsuccessful attempts to join the workforce.

The researchers followed all working-age beneficiaries who began receiving SSI payments from 1996 to 2006 through the year 2007. The study tracked data on length of time between when SSI payments began and achievement of certain work outcomes, as well as the extent to which SSI beneficiaries were able to forego payments due to earned wages. The study tracked which beneficiaries achieved 1619(b) status, which allows beneficiaries to keep SSI eligibility and Medicaid coverage indefinitely, as earnings increase to a certain threshold.

The report found significant differences between point-in-time monthly statistics and the long-term cumulative statistics. The authors suggest that more favorable outcomes for some later recipients may be tied to higher interest in higher earnings. The report also notes that younger SSI recipients were more likely than older SSI recipients to forego payments due to one or more months of paid work. The authors found that only a small number of beneficiaries gave up payments while receiving employment services, and that the majority of those who achieved 1619(b) status had not enrolled in employment services.