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New Working Paper Released on Return-to-Work Outcomes Among SSDI Beneficiaries

by User Not Found | Jan 06, 2014

Return-to-Work Outcomes Among Social Security Disability Insurance Program 

By Yonatan Ben-Shalom and Arif A. Mamun (Mathematica Policy Research)


We follow a sample of working-age Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program 
beneficiaries for five years after their first benefit award to learn how certain factors help or 
hinder achievement of four return-to-work milestones: (1) enrollment for employment services 
provided by a state vocational rehabilitation agency or employment network, (2) start of trial 
work period (TWP), (3) completion of TWP, and (4) suspension or termination of benefits 
because of work. We find that younger beneficiaries are more likely than older beneficiaries to 
achieve the milestones and that substantial variation exists across impairment types. In addition, 
black beneficiaries and beneficiaries with higher levels of education have a greater probability of 
achieving the milestones, everything else equal. Also, such achievement is more probable if state 
unemployment is low at the time of the award. The probability of achieving the milestones is 
reduced by having a higher DI benefit amount at award, an award decision made at a higher 
adjudicative level, and by receiving Supplemental Security Income or Medicare benefits at the 
time of DI award. Finally, we find large variation in the relationships between state of residence 
and return-to-work outcomes and between award month and return-to-work outcomes. We 
attribute these variations to unobserved factors at the state level, policy changes over time, and 
trends in unobserved beneficiary characteristics. 

This research was supported by the Employment Policy & Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center with funding by the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133B100030). The contents of this report do not necessarily represent the views of NIDRR or the U.S. Department of Education.

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