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


January 24, 2018

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 their reliance on benefits. 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 BOND project 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. The purpose of Stage 2 is to learn more about impacts on those beneficiaries most likely to use the offset (recruited and informed volunteers who are not also receiving Supplemental Security Income) and to determine the extent to which enhancements to counseling services (enhanced work incentives counseling, or EWIC) affect impacts compared to less intensive 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 report is the second of two Stage 2 Interim Process, Participation, and Impact Reports. It (i) documents results of the process and participation analyses through the sixth year of implementation (2016), (ii) describes the prevalence and size of SSDI benefit overpayments for subjects through the fourth year of implementation (2014), (iii) reports impacts on earnings and benefit outcomes during the fifth calendar year of implementation (2015), and (iv) presents impacts on beneficiaries’ knowledge, perceived barriers to employment, health, and employment experience after three years of BOND study participation. Readers should keep in mind that the results are statistically representative only of SSDI beneficiaries who would have volunteered to enroll in the study if given the opportunity and who met two eligibility criteria (SSDI-only and ages 18-59 at enrollment).