Youth with Disabilities at the Crossroads: The Intersection of Vocational Rehabilitation and Disability Benefits for Youth with Disabilities

DRC Working Paper Number: 2014-06
Publisher: Washington, DC: Center for Studying Disability Policy
Jul 30, 2014
Authors
Todd Honeycutt, Allison Thompkins, Maura Bardos, and Steven Stern
  • Though agencies’ statistics varied widely, almost one in six SSA beneficiaries who sought VR services had at least one month of benefit suspension due to work within 48 months of their VR applications.
  • About one in 10 VR applicants without SSA benefits at the time of their VR application received SSA benefits within 48 months.
  • While SSA beneficiaries received services from VR agencies at the same level as non-SSA beneficiaries, the levels at which they were employed when they closed from services was lower. 

State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies are well positioned to assist youth and young adults (ages 16 to 24) with disabilities who are transitioning from school to work and facing issues related to Social Security Administration (SSA) benefit receipt. Using RSA-911 records matched to SSA administrative records, this paper adds to the knowledge about state VR agency provision of services to youth with disabilities and differences in outcomes based on SSA benefit receipt status. Though agencies’ statistics varied widely, almost one in six SSA beneficiaries who sought VR services had at least one month of benefit suspension due to work within 48 months of their VR applications, and about one in 10 VR applicants without SSA benefits at the time of their VR application received SSA benefits within 48 months. While SSA beneficiaries received services from VR agencies at the same level as non-SSA beneficiaries, the levels at which they were employed when they closed from services was lower. 

The results have two main policy implications. First, the level of resources to which agencies have access may be important in influencing the outcomes we measured. Second, agency differences in the proportion of SSA beneficiaries who eventually had benefit suspension due to work point to the potential for additional gains by agencies in this area. These factors, along with the potential for long-term benefits for youth, could justify further investment in VR agencies by the federal government in promoting service delivery to transition-age youth.