Follows 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 return-to-work outcomes.

“Return-to-work outcomes were measured as the achievement of four important milestones: first enrollment for employment services provided by a state vocational rehabilitation agency or employment network, start of trial work period (TWP), completion of TWP, and suspension or termination of benefits because of work” (p.xi). Using data from the Social Security Administration and Rehabilitation Services Administration, the authors estimated the relationship of achieving the return-to-work milestones with age at award, impairment type, other beneficiary characteristics, and national and state-level economic conditions at the time of award. (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: Return-to-Work Outcomes Among Social Security Disability Insurance Program Beneficiaries: Final Report

Major Findings & Recommendations

  • Younger beneficiaries were more likely than older beneficiaries to achieve the return-to-work milestones within five years after award. The likelihood of achieving the milestones varied substantially across impairment types.
  • The probability of achieving the milestones was higher for participants with more years of education, for black participants, and when the state unemployment was lower at the time of 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 if the beneficiary is receiving Supplemental Security Income or Medicare benefits at the time of DI award.