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Short-Term Research and Evaluations Inform SSA Policy


  • The Social Security Administration (SSA) needs short-term research and evaluations to inform decision-making.
  • Abt conducts policy and program assessments for SSA’s disability programs.
  • Abt has delivered literature reviews, data analysis, and program recommendations.
The Challenge

SSA administers two of the nation’s largest entitlement programs: Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSA’s Office of Retirement and Disability Policy needs short-term research and evaluation studies to make evidence-based decisions about these programs. SSA established this Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) to obtain research on issues of immediate importance to the agency. The contract vehicle provides:

  • analysis of demographic and economic trends that affect OASDI and SSI
  • data analysis regarding medical and vocational disability policy
  • program assessments and recommendations about employment support and return to work policies and programs.
The Approach

SSA issues call orders to acquire a wide range of short-term research. To date, call orders have focused on demographic and economic trends that affect SSA programs and beneficiaries, the data used to guide and understand policy, and SSA’s employment support programs. They include payment systems used in the Ticket to Work Program, community-based services for youth, and approaches to providing benefits counseling to disability beneficiaries. The call orders provide information SSA needs to inform decision making, improve the administration and effectiveness of programs, and enhance Congressional and stakeholder confidence in its policy decisions.

The Results

Since 2018, Abt has conducted several short-term studies. In one example, Abt reviewed evidence about community-based programs serving youth to develop recommendations for SSA’s Section 301 program.  Abt analyzed alternative payment structures SSA might consider for the Ticket to Work program. Abt interviewed key stakeholders and analyzed data to develop recommendations for the service model SSA uses for the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Program. Abt has analyzed extant data that support SSA’s disability policy. Abt is also updating two of SSA’s public use data files and is reviewing disclosure review standards to guide SSA’s procedures for developing future public use data files.

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