As part of the Ticket to Work (TTW) and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, Congress directed the Social Security Administration (SSA) to test alternative Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) work rules designed to increase the incentive for SSDI beneficiaries to work and reduce the total amount of SSDI benefits paid to beneficiaries. In response, SSA has undertaken the Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND), a random assignment test of alternative SSDI program rules governing work and other supports. BOND tests a $1 for $2 benefit offset applied to annual earnings above the BOND Yearly Amount (BYA)—the annual equivalent of SSDI’s substantial gainful activity amount. As a result, beneficiaries in the treatment group are able to retain some of their monthly cash benefits while earning more than BYA. The benefit offset reduces yearly SSDI benefits by $1 in SSDI benefits for every $2 in annual earnings above BYA (in other words, reduces yearly SSDI benefits by half the amount that annual earnings exceed the BYA threshold).
BOND includes two stages. The purpose of Stage 1 is to learn how a national benefit offset would affect earnings and program outcomes for the entire SSDI population. To achieve this goal, Stage 1 uses two-way random assignment into an offset treatment group (with standard work incentives counseling) or to a current-law control group.
The purposes of Stage 2 are to (i) learn more about impacts on those beneficiaries thought most likely to use the offset (recruited and informed volunteers who are not also receiving Supplemental Security Income) and (ii) to determine the extent to which enhancements to counseling services (enhanced work incentives counseling, or EWIC) affect impacts compared to standard work incentives counseling (WIC). To achieve these goals, Stage 2 uses three-way random assignment into an offset-plus-WIC group, an offset-plus-EWIC group, and a current law control group.
This Final Evaluation Report presents findings about the implementation of BOND through the sixth year of implementation (2016), estimates of impacts on earnings and benefit outcomes from the first five years of implementation (through 2015), and the results of benefit-cost analyses.