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Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) Special Topics Papers

Judy Geyer, Daniel Gubits, Michelle Wood, Hassan Enayati, Amanda Grittner, Sarah Prenovitz, Abt Global


August 8, 2023

The Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) was mandated by Congress through the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999. The objective was to test whether replacing the "cash cliff" for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries who earn above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level with a $1 for $2 benefit offset would encourage more beneficiaries to return to work and increase their earnings.

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) and examined the affects of enhancements to work incentives counseling.

Abt implemented a national field test of BOND and evaluated the demonstration's participation, impacts, costs, and benefits. Abt also conducted follow up research using BOND data to explore longer term findings and special research topics.

BOND Implementation and Evaluation: Further Exploration of WIC and EWIC Services

This report takes a deeper look at how beneficiaries used the work incentives counseling offered in BOND. It explores service use patterns for Work Incentives Counseling (WIC) and Enhanced Work Incentives Counseling (EWIC) – in which staff took a proactive approach to contact beneficiaries to inform them of the benefit offset –  to understand which types of beneficiaries used counseling in different ways. We also explored whether there are subgroups defined by service use for whom EWIC is more effective.

BOND Implementation and Evaluation: Extending the Final Evaluation Report Results

This report analyzed three additional years of BOND subjects’ earnings and benefits outcomes, including employment, from 2017 to 2019, during which most  beneficiaries were no longer receiving the benefit offset, because their BOND participation period had ended.

BOND Implementation and Evaluation: Insights on Racial and Ethnic Equity

Understanding the racial and ethnic composition of program participants, and differences in characteristics, experiences, and outcomes by race and ethnicity is a core objective outlined in the SSA’s Equity Action Plan and is key to ensuring equitable access to SSA programs and services. This report uses existing BOND data to examine the racial and ethnic composition of BOND subjects, the extent to which the impact of the benefit offset varies by race and ethnicity, and variation in employment barriers and experiences by the intersection of race and gender. The report highlighted a potential solution to SSA’s current problem of limited data on race and ethnicity by demonstrating the feasibility and accuracy of an algorithm to predict the race and ethnicity of Stage 2 BOND participants. We then applied the predictions to explore the differences between demonstration volunteers and those who opted out. 

Exits from SSDI Benefits for Work and Medical Improvement and Post-Exit Experiences

This memo uses BOND data to examine exits and post-exit experiences of SSDI beneficiaries whose benefits were terminated because of a medical recovery or work. We explore the ways in which beneficiaries whose benefits were terminated due to work (and their post-exit experiences) differ from those whose benefits were terminated due to medical improvement. We also explore differences by BOND treatment group in exit patterns and the composition of who exited due to medical improvement.