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How Studies Conducted by the Social Security Administration Resulted in the Ticket to Work Act

Posted on:12/29/2012
The cumulative marginal tax rates for individuals who decide to leave SSI and go to work can be from 50 percent to over 89 percent. The 50-cent loss in SSI benefits per dollar of earnings is only the starting point of income loss; these recipients also lose Food Stamps and can lose health benefits.


The cumulative marginal tax rates for individuals who decide to leave SSI and go to work can be from 50 percent to over 89 percent. The 50-cent loss in SSI benefits per dollar of earnings is only the starting point of income loss; these recipients also lose Food Stamps and can lose health benefits. Although the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) reduces the work disincentives by offsetting the taxes that fall on SSI recipients who go to work, it does not mitigate the loss of Food Stamps (which half of SSI beneficiaries receive) or the loss of health benefits.

 

In the 1980s, the Social Security Administration tried two large scale demonstrations to encourage SSI recipients to go to work: Project Network, between 1982 and 1985, and the Transitional Employment Training Demonstration, between 1985 and 1987. The latter focused only on recipients with mental retardation, whereas the former included recipients with a variety of disabilities. SSI recipients were invited to participate, and volunteers were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups (the treatment groups were provided with employment services). In both programs, only a small percentage, around 5 percent, of SSI recipients volunteered to participate.

 

Studies conducted in the early 1990s showed that less than 1 percent of the SSI recipients who were of working-age took up jobs. The General Account Officer also conducted its own survey. This survey revealed that while less than 3 percent of the total SSI recipients took up employment and left the rolls, one third of those who took up employment returned to the rolls within 3 years. At the prodding of disability rights groups and veterans' organizations, Congress enacted the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999.


  
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