The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a contract with Abt Associates Inc. to implement and evaluate the Benefit Offset National Demonstration or BOND.   In BOND, we are testing different program policies regarding the treatment of earnings for current SSDI beneficiaries in 10 sites around the country.  Under current rules, beneficiaries lose their entire cash benefit if their earnings exceed the substantial gainful activity (SGA) threshold in the month after the trial work period (TWP) and grace period end.  This demonstration provides a gradual reduction of benefits ($1 for each additional $2 earned over the SGA threshold)—thereby eliminating the “cash cliff” currently in effect.  In addition to a benefit offset, we are offering some participants enhanced work incentives counseling combined with the benefit offset, along with information and referral to employment supports.  Using the offset will not have any adverse effect on program eligibility.  We are using an annual earnings test to adjust benefits during the year, and participants will provide updated earnings estimates as needed to prevent overpayments at the end of the year.

We worked with the Abt team on start-up activities in 2010.  We began a BOND pilot in January 2011. Full project implementation began in late April 2011.

Locations

Ten randomly selected SSA Area Office jurisdictions around the country are participating in the project. 

BOND Site Name BOND Site Geography*
Alabama State of Alabama
Arizona/Southeast California State of Arizona, southeastern California
Colorado/Wyoming States of Colorado and Wyoming
DC Metro Washington, DC; suburban Maryland; northern Virginia; northeastern West Virginia
Greater Detroit Southeastern Michigan
Greater Houston Southeastern Texas
Northern New England States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont; northern Massachusetts
South Florida Southern Florida
Western New York Western New York, northern Pennsylvania
Wisconsin State of Wisconsin

*Small areas of each state may not be included.

Program evaluation

SSDI beneficiaries in the ten SSA Area offices are randomly assigned to: (1) a group that is notified that they are eligible for a benefit offset if they return to work; or (2) groups that can volunteer to enroll in the benefit offset or the benefit offset with enhanced benefits counseling; or (3) a control group that—while not eligible for these changes—will remain eligible for SSDI benefits and services under existing program rules. We will estimate the impacts of the program interventions on employment, SSDI benefits, beneficiary well-being, and other outcomes by measuring differences in outcomes between the program and control groups.  We will also evaluate the operation of the program and its costs to federal, state, and local governments—as well as any cost savings and additional revenues.  We will use data from surveys of the program and control group members and from Social Security and other administrative records in the evaluation.