How Former Beneficiaries Fare After Leaving Social Security Disability Insurance

Jan 19, 2022 12:30 - 1:45 p.m.

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Over the last two decades, federal policy has focused on reducing reliance on federal disability benefits and enhancing the employment opportunities for many people with disabilities who want to be self-sufficient. In recent years, the Social Security Administration terminated the benefits of about 100,000 Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries annually, either because the agency determined that the beneficiary’s medical condition improved or because beneficiaries sustained earnings above substantial gainful activity over many months. Yet little is known about the path of these beneficiaries after they no longer receive benefits. Do their health and functioning remain at a level that means they do not need benefits? Do they sustain work, and, if so, what are their earnings? Do those who earn enough to leave benefits later return to benefits and, if so, why?

Mathematica’s Center for Studying Disability Policy held a webinar on January 19, 2022, to learn more about the post-termination outcomes of former Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries. Mathematica Senior Researcher Michael Anderson and Research Analyst Marisa Shenk presented findings from the recent research. They were joined by Jarnee Riley, an associate director at Westat. Westat is conducting a study for the Social Security Administration on the service, medical, and employment needs of people leaving disability programs because of medical improvement. Stephanie Desrochers, a benefits counseling services coordinator with Maine Medical Center, offered context for the research findings based on her work with beneficiaries and service providers.