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Project Number: p05-03c

Return to Work Services for SSA Beneficiaries with Psychiatric Disability: What Works

Principal Investigator: Judith Cook

Project Type: Core Research

Project Year: 05

Thematic Category: Return to Work

Project Summary:

A major public policy problem in the current decade is the extremely low labor force participation rates of people with psychiatric disabilities, coupled with their overrepresentation among long-term public disability income beneficiaries. This is especially troubling given the existence of evidence-based practice interventions for returning them to the labor force. The proposed research will examine the outcomes of best-practice, return-to-work services directed toward SSI and SSDI beneficiaries with psychiatric disabilities, and contrast their behavior with that of a nationally representative group of beneficiaries with disabling mental disorders.

The first research question is how best-practice interventions delivered to SSI/SSDI beneficiaries with psychiatric disabilities influence their return to work, and whether beneficiaries show differential outcomes compared to non-beneficiaries who receive the same services. The second research question is whether the labor force participation behavior of beneficiaries receiving evidence-based, return-to-work services differs from a nationally representative group of psychiatrically disabled SSI/SSDI beneficiaries. The third research question is whether psychiatrically disabled SSI and SSDI beneficiaries limit their employment and earnings in order to remain below SGA, and the fourth question is whether SSI recipients limit their employment and earnings in order to remain below their state’s 1619(b) earnings thresholds. The fifth question concerns the dynamics of psychiatrically disabled SSI and SSDI beneficiaries’ employment and program participation related to demographic and clinical characteristics.