Promoting Opportunity Demonstration: Final Evaluation Report
Social Security Administration
- Impacts on primary outcomes were limited. POD did not increase average earnings, SSDI benefits, or income. POD increased the percentage of beneficiaries who had substantive earnings above the annualized SGA amount by 1 percentage point.
- There were no substantive differences in benefit offset usage or impacts between the two treatment groups.
- Treatment group members faced substantive challenges reporting monthly earnings in a timely manner.
- Understanding of current and POD rules was limited. Treatment and control group members faced challenges with answering questions about how earnings affect benefits under POD and current rules.
As part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, Congress directed SSA to conduct the Promoting Opportunity Demonstration (POD). The demonstration was part of a larger interest by Congress to test intervention projects that might enhance the labor force attachment of SSDI beneficiaries and reduce dependency on benefits.
Under current rules, beneficiaries with earnings that exceed substantial gainful activity (SGA) limits can lose their benefits. POD replaced this sudden loss of benefits—often called the “cash cliff”—with a $1 for $2 benefit offset for earnings above the POD threshold or the beneficiary’s impairment-related work expenses, whichever amount was higher. POD also included modifications to other current rule provisions, such as removing the Trial Work Period (TWP).
POD was a randomized controlled trial that included two treatments of a benefit offset. The two treatment groups had the same benefit offset but different termination rules. Control group members continued to receive benefits under current rules.
This report summarizes findings at the end of POD’s two-year implementation period.