This report presents a profile of all working-age (age 18 to 64) SSI and DI beneficiaries. It is the second in a series of reports that make up the fifth Ticket to Work evaluation report. The report focuses on selected personal characteristics, activities, and outcomes closely associated with employment. The profile is based on data from a recent nationally representative survey of working-age SSI and DI beneficiaries Because of important differences between SSI and DI program eligibility criteria, target populations, and treatment of earnings, we also present separate profiles for SSI-only, DI-only, and concurrent (those receiving both SSI and DI) beneficiaries.
The period of analysis is prior to SSA’s implementation of new Ticket to Work program regulations in July of 2008, and so reflects experiences under the original Ticket to Work rules. The findings indicate that many SSI and DI beneficiaries were working and engaging in work-preparation activities, and many more saw themselves working in the future. In 2006, about half of all beneficiaries reported having work-related goals or expectations, had recently received employment-related services or training, and/or had recently been employed. But the jobs secured by beneficiaries did not pay well in general; nor did they offer much in the way of benefits.
Although many beneficiaries were working, and many more wanted to work, the findings also indicate that there was a high prevalence of certain characteristics, circumstances, and experiences among beneficiaries that stood between them and employment. Other barriers included the fact that few beneficiaries were aware of the work incentive provisions available in the SSI and DI programs, and most were living in households at or near the federal poverty level. As a result, they and their families relied on means-tested public programs for which eligibility could be jeopardized by earnings. Despite these barriers to employment, the large share of beneficiaries who indicated an interest in employment—either through their actions or expectations—suggests that policies designed to promote and support work might be successful if they can address the wide array of obstacles facing beneficiaries in their attempts to work and contribute to their own independence. (author abstract)