Social Security:

Demonstration Projects Concerning Interviews With Disability Claimants

HRD-87-35: Published: Feb 19, 1987. Publicly Released: Feb 19, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO: (1) observed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) implementation and evaluation of its demonstration projects involving disability claimants' eligibility interviews; (2) discussed implementation plans with SSA officials; and (3) reviewed the scope of work and the design and analysis plan developed by the contractor SSA selected to evaluate the projects.

GAO found that the projects include certain factors that may detract from a successful demonstration because: (1) demonstration results will not provide statistically valid estimates for all the SSA disability programs; (2) states are not consistently implementing the projects; (3) the use of the demonstration control group involving the continuing disability review process may not be appropriate or may be potentially misleading; and (4) evaluating claimant satisfaction will be difficult.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SSA has taken all actions needed and projects are nearly completed.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Social Security should: (1) require that all states implement the demonstration projects consistently or, if such consistency is not practical, require that the evaluation contractor account for such inconsistencies in the evaluation; (2) evaluate the need for additional resources for states participating in the demonstration projects; and (3) identify and consider alternative data collection approaches for measuring claimants' satisfaction, given the costs for in-person interviews and the difficulty in separating claimant satisfaction with the process from satisfaction with the decision.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The projects are near completion.

    Recommendation: If additional states are selected to participate in the project, the Commissioner of Social Security should broaden the demonstration's perspective by selecting states that might be more representative of state operations, such as a large, centrally administered state where the travel involved would be costly. Although including such states will not allow statistically valid national estimates, the inclusion would provide a more accurate picture of the demonstration's potential impact nationwide.

    Agency Affected: Social Security Administration


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