The Benefit Offset National Demonstration

July 01, 2009

Funding: Social Security Administration

Summary: Currently, a person who receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) faces large disincentives for returning to work. A person on SSDI may attempt to work for nine months during a trial work period and make any amount of employment income without seeing an impact on her/his SSDI benefits. However, after the nine-month trial work period (and a three-month grace period), if the SSDI recipient makes more than what is termed "substantial gainful activity" (SGA, currently set at $1,000 per month), s/he loses her/his entire SSDI benefit at once. This is sometimes called a "cash cliff" because the person can make an extra $20 from work and lose $1,000 in benefits. The BOND project is a random assignment study that was mandated by Congress to explore the impacts of smoothing out this cliff, by offering a $1 reduction of benefits for every $2 in employment income over SGA. The intended goals of the offset are to encourage