Promoting Opportunity Demonstration: Treatment Group Members’ Perspectives on Reporting Earnings and Using the POD Benefit Offset
Social Security Administration
- Respondents noted the POD supports prompted them to organize their wages and more closely manage their income on a monthly basis. They cited having flexible options to submit earnings (e.g., web portal) and reminders as being particularly helpful in submitting earnings information on time.
- Proactive supports from POD counselors were beneficial in understanding the new rules and changes to their benefits due to additional earnings.
- Many respondents noted that submitting monthly wage information was often challenging, particularly for those who worked for several employers and those who lacked the necessary equipment to access their pay stubs.
- Key factors in managing benefit fluctuations include having advance knowledge of changes to monthly benefit payments.
The Promoting Opportunity Demonstration (POD) tests modifications to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program rules and is intended to promote the labor force attachment of SSDI beneficiaries. Under current rules, beneficiaries with earnings that exceed substantial gainful activity (SGA) limits are generally not entitled to receive cash benefits. POD replaced this loss of benefits with a $1 for $2 benefit offset for earnings above either the POD threshold or the beneficiary’s impairment-related work expenses, whichever amount was higher.
Treatment group members had to submit monthly earnings to support the processing of the POD offset. Any delays or inaccuracies in earnings submissions directly affected the accuracy of the POD benefit offset.
This brief summarizes the experiences of treatment group members in reporting earnings and using the POD offset. Our findings are based on qualitative interviews with a subset of 72 treatment group members who reported earnings during the demonstration. A focal point of our questions concerned their experiences reporting monthly earnings to comply with POD and their reaction to the new offset. We also asked about their experiences with benefits counseling supports and perceptions of the POD rules.