Implementation and Impacts of the Substantial Gainful Activity Project Demonstration in Kentucky
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
The Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Project demonstration tested innovations to improve the employment of nonblind vocational rehabilitation (VR) clients receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. We describe the SGA Project model components, the implementation experience in Kentucky, and the impact of the innovations on VR service and employment outcomes. The evaluation used information from site visits and VR administrative data. We estimated impacts by comparing the outcomes of SSDI-only clients who applied for services at randomly assigned offices that implemented the SGA Project innovations to those who applied at other offices. Participants did not consistently receive all components of the innovations. Nevertheless, the innovations led to a 17 percentage-point increase in clients with a signed individualized plan for employment within 30 days of application, an 8 percentage-point increase in closures with competitive employment, and nearly 6 percentage-point increase in the number of clients with earnings at or above the SGA level. The early, positive impacts on key outcomes suggest the SGA Project innovations could hold promise for other VR agencies and for a broader set of VR clients. The evaluation illustrates the potential for random assignment demonstrations to test innovations in VR service delivery.