How has the expansion of vocational rehabilitation services affected youth receiving SSI? – Center for Retirement Research


This study examines how transition-age youth with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are affected by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and access to pre-employment transition services (pre-ETS). have been Using data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration for 2010 to 2021, we show that after passage of WIOA, more youth applied to vocational rehabilitation agencies for employment. signed individual plans, and had higher annual incomes. In states where students had greater access to pre-ETS, youth receiving SSI had higher rates for each of the three outcomes (signed individual plans for employment, had any earnings, and section 301) compared to states where students had less access. WIOA passage and pre-ETS access likely contributed to greater engagement with VR and may be associated with better employment outcomes.

The paper found that:

  • After the passage of WIOA, more disabled youth receiving SSI applied to vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies, signed an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) that would allow them to access services beyond pre-ETS. Ga, and their annual income was high.
  • States offering greater access to pre-ETS had higher annual earnings rates and earnings for youth receiving SSI, as well as greater use of the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) after passage of WIOA. The rates were
  • From 2017 to 2021, greater pre-ETS availability within a state (as reflected by the pre-ETS access ratio) was associated with higher rates of signed IPEs, revenues, and Section 301 use.

The policy implications of the findings are:

  • States have the potential to improve the experience of youth receiving SSI in terms of access to and application for pre-ETS (VR). This population’s engagement with VR services varies widely across states. If all states had the same VR application rates as the top-ranked states, an additional 22,000 youth would have applied for VR services.
  • Increased pre-ETS access may encourage youth with disabilities to enter the labor market directly, as evidenced by the increased earnings of youth receiving SSI after WIOA. However, more evidence is needed to show that the results are related to WIOA and not due to the stronger economic environment after 2010.
  • Improved access to work incentive counseling may be beneficial for youth populations receiving SSI, particularly those who are working or have contact with VR agencies through pre-ETS or regular VR services. . This implication reflects the mixed evidence of how the use of work incentives changed with the passage of WIOA and pre-ETS access.

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