Research and Analysis by Michelle L. Wood
Case Management at Work for SSA Disability Beneficiaries: Process Results of the Project NetWork Return-to-Work Demonstration
This article presents the results of the process analysis of the evaluation of the Project NetWork demonstration, a Federal demonstration undertaken by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 1991 to test alternative methods of providing rehabilitation and employment services to SSA's Disability Insurance beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income disabled and blind applicants and recipients. The major findings are: (1) from an operational standpoint, it is feasible to expand access to vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to a broad spectrum of SSA beneficiaries, and (2) roughly similar results are achieved, in terms of client intake and provision of services, when case management services are provided by SSA staff, contracted out to State VR agencies, or contracted with private VR providers. Later evaluation reports will trace demonstration impacts on earnings and disability benefits and report the overall benefits and costs of return-to-work services for this population.
This article describes the development of SSA's administrative records database for the Project NetWork return-to-work experiment targeting persons with disabilities. The article is part of a series of papers on the evaluation of the Project NetWork demonstration. In addition to 8,248 Project NetWork participants randomly assigned to receive case management services and a control group, the simulation identified 138,613 eligible nonparticipants in the demonstration areas. The output data files contain detailed monthly information on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance (DI) benefits, annual earnings, and a set of demographic and diagnostic variables. The data allow for the measurement of net outcomes and the analysis of factors affecting participation. The results suggest that it is feasible to simulate complex eligibility rules using administrative records, and create a clean and edited data file for a comprehensive and credible evaluation. The study shows that it is feasible to use administrative records data for selecting control or comparison groups in future demonstration evaluations.