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Abt Implements SSDI Benefit Offset Demonstration


  • Congress directed the Social Security Administration to test a benefit offset
  • Abt developed infrastructure and procedures to operate the benefit offset
  • Abt provided participants benefits counseling and operational support to SSA
The Challenge

In 2015, Congress directed the Social Security Administration (SSA) to test mitigating the effects of ending Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits when earnings exceed the cutoff level. The test allowed beneficiaries to keep $1 in benefits for every $2 in increased earnings over the cutoff level. The goal was to analyze the impact of the offset on employment, earnings, and SSDI benefits. Abt implemented the demonstration in eight locations, helping SSA provide SSDI beneficiaries with benefits counseling and a mechanism for reporting earnings.

The Approach

Abt implemented a centralized call center/earnings processing center and decentralized benefits counseling. The centralized services ensured consistent operations across demonstration sites. The decentralized benefits counselors delivered state-specific information on the effect of earnings on disability and other benefits. Abt also developed a secure data system to enter, view, and transmit participant earnings information so that SSA could administer the benefit offset.

The Results

Abt met SSA’s aggressive schedule to design and develop the required demonstration infrastructure and procedures. Over the 3.5 years of the demonstration, we provided benefits counseling to help demonstration participants return to work. We worked with participants to explain the benefit offset, to help report earnings to SSA, and to assist with filing appeals. Abt provided comprehensive role-based training to demonstration staff, monitored performance, and delivered technical assistance. Through collaboration with the evaluation contractor and SSA, we ensured that our approach adhered to the research design.