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BOND: Benefit Offset National Demonstration


Highlights

  • Can changes to disability benefit rules encourage Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries to work?
  • Two-stage, multi-arm random assignment study examined effects of alternative work rules on earnings and benefit receipt.
  • The study produced evidence that a national policy that pays partial disability benefits when earnings exceed SSA’s threshold would increase rather than decrease disability benefits.
The Challenge

Would national policy that pays partial disability benefits when earnings exceed the substantial gainful activity level encourage beneficiaries to work? Abt Associates answered this question for the Social Security Administration (SSA) through our implementation and evaluation of the Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND).

The Approach

The nine-year policy experiment involved two stages and a sample of nearly one million disability beneficiaries.  Stage 1 measured how a national benefit offset—a reduction in benefits rather than elimination of benefits—would affect earnings and benefits for the entire SSDI population.  Stage 2 examined effects of the benefit offset on beneficiaries thought to be most likely to take advantage of the offset (recruited and informed volunteers). Stage 2 also examined the effects of enhancements to work incentives counseling.

The Results

The study found no evidence that the offset changed earnings, in either the nationally representative Stage 1 or in the Stage 2 sample of volunteers.  The study found that the benefit offset increased the average amount of SSDI benefits due to beneficiaries. In Stage 1, the benefit offset increased SSDI benefits by $143 per year over five years, slightly more than a one percent increase.  In Stage 2, the benefit offset increased SSDI benefits by about four percent.  The study found no evidence that enhanced work incentives counseling helped beneficiaries return to work more than standard counseling.

Reports:

BOND Process Study

BOND Stage 1 Early Assessment Report

BOND Stage 2 Early Assessment Report

BOND Stage 1 First-Year Snapshot of Earnings and Benefit Impacts

BOND Stage 1 Second-Year Snapshot of Earnings and Benefit Impacts

BOND Stage 1 Third-Year Snapshot of Earnings and Benefit Impacts

BOND Stage 1 First Interim Process, Participation, and Impact Report

BOND Stage 1 Second Interim Process, Participation, and Impact Report

BOND Stage 2 First- and Second-Year Snapshot of Earnings and Benefit Impacts

BOND Stage 2 First Interim Process, Participation, and Impact Report

BOND Stage 2 Fourth-Year Snapshot of Earnings and Benefit Impacts

BOND Stage 2 Second Interim Process, Participation, and Impact Report

BOND Implementation and Evaluation Final Report Volume 1

 

Social Security Administration: Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND)