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Declining Employment Among a Growing Group of Work-Oriented Beneficiaries, 2005-2015
This study examines changes in the characteristics and employment-related experiences of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program participants from 2005 to 2015. Using data from the National Beneficiary Survey, we found that a greater share of DI-only beneficiaries had work goals or expectations in 2015 than in 2005, but among SSI recipients, this rate did not change. Work-oriented beneficiaries in 2015 were older and less likely to have ever worked for pay or to have engaged in recent work-related activities than in 2005. Awareness of SSI and DI work support provisions improved for some but declined for others. The findings suggest avenues that policymakers could explore in an effort to improve beneficiary employment outcomes, including finding ways to meet the demand for employment supports from the older, larger group of work-oriented beneficiaries, better educate them about the availability of work supports, and connect them to those supports.