Has Access to Vocational Rehabilitation Services Improved Outcomes for SSI Youth?

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Todd Honeycutt and Isabel Musse, Mathematica and Jeffrey Hemmeter, U.S. Social Security Administration

This project will examine how the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) affected vocational rehabilitation (VR) services, use of SSA work incentives, and earnings outcomes for youth ages 14-24 receiving SSI. We will use data from SSA and the Rehabilitation Services Administration to examine outcomes of youth across states. Findings will provide SSA and other policymakers interested in youth transition with evidence on whether increased exposure to VR services during high school affected key transition incomes in ways that could result in decreased reliance on SSI in young adulthood.

WIOA required VR agencies to expand their services for high school and college students with disabilities, and youth ages 14-24 now comprise more than half of VR agency caseloads (up from one-third before WIOA; U.S. Department of Education 2020). We posit that increased exposure to VR services, particularly through pre-employment transition services (pre-ETS), could lead to improved VR, SSA, and earnings outcomes for youth receiving SSI.