Phased Development of a Modern Gateway for Disability Benefits
In 2015, we proposed an Employment/Eligibility Service (EES) system that would serve as a new gateway to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The EES would quickly award SSDI to workers who are unable to stay in the labor force long term and provide time-limited cash and return-to-work support to others. The EES offers policymakers an opportunity to move toward a support system that focuses on a person’s ability to work instead of their inability to work. Although simple in concept, this change would take a concerted effort. The good news is that some states are already proceeding in this direction. With federal funding, eight states are developing workforce retention supports for workers experiencing work loss because of injury or illness. EES development can leverage these efforts through a phased approach to testing and scale-up.