Panel: Disability Benefits, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment

Friday, November 9, 2012: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Washington (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizers:  Sophie Mitra, Fordham University
Moderators:  Norma Coe, Boston College and Sophie Mitra, Fordham University
Chairs:  David Stapleton, Mathematica Policy Research

This session is on the employment consequences of disability benefits and vocational rehabilitation programs. The first paper by French and Song provides new estimates of the effect of Social Security Disability Insurance receipt on labor supply. Exploiting the effectively random assignment of judges to disability insurance cases, French and Song use instrumental variables to address the fact that those allowed benefits are a selected sample. They find that benefit receipt reduces labor force participation by 26 percentage points three years after a disability determination decision, although the reduction is smaller for those over age 55, college graduates, and those with mental illness. The second paper by Mamun et al presents results of the Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD). It is a large-scale demonstration and evaluation sponsored by the Social Security Administration to test promising approaches for helping young people with disabilities become more self-sufficient and less reliant on disability benefits. This paper will present the one-year impact findings for YTD evaluation sites in Florida, Maryland, and West Virginia. While it will take several more years before we fully observe the transitions that the participants in this study make to adult life, early data from the evaluation provide rich information on the differences that the demonstration projects made in key outcomes for youth. The study examines the impacts of YTD on outcomes in five domains: (1) employment-promoting services, (2) paid employment, (3) education, (4) youth income, and (5) attitudes and expectations. The third paper by Honeycutt and Stapleton assesses the effect of long wait times on the employment and benefit outcomes for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries who apply for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services. They track their outcomes for four years on several measures: the start or completion of a trial work period; the number of months of earnings at or above the substantial gainful activity level; any suspension or termination of SSDI benefits due to work; and the number of months in non-pay status after suspension or termination of benefits due to work. Longer usual wait times resulted in a lower likelihood of a beneficiary experiencing all but one of the outcome measures at the 48-month point. The fourth paper Martin et al examines occupational outcomes for successfully closed state-federal VR consumers in the 2008 fiscal year using the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. The study replicates previous research by Walls and Fullmer (1997) that investigated the top 50 job titles and the top five occupations by disability categories after vocational rehabilitation. Median hourly wages for VR participants are reported and compared with those of the general labor force. Findings and implications are discussed, and suggestions are offered to rehabilitation counselors about how to expand consumers’ job and career options.

The Effect of Disability Insurance Receipt On Labor Supply
Eric French, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Jae Song, Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration's Youth Transition Demonstration: One-Year Impacts In Three Sites
Arif Mamun1, Thomas Fraker2 and Deborah Reed2, (1)Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., (2)Mathematica Policy Research

Waiting Time for Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Post-Closure Outcomes for SSDI Beneficiaries
Todd Honeycutt, Mathematica Policy Research and David Stapleton, Cornell University

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