Impact of Vocational Rehabilitation Services on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program

T-HRD-88-16: Published: May 26, 1988. Publicly Released: May 26, 1988.

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GAO discussed vocational rehabilitation (VR) services for beneficiaries of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Program. GAO found that: (1) the majority of SSDI beneficiaries were either too old for VR services or unlikely candidates due to the nature of their disabilities; (2) in 1986, only 1 percent of the persons who became beneficiaries in 1983 left the benefit rolls to work and less than one-third of those had received VR services; (3) nearly two-thirds of the beneficiaries with VR service obtained them at an agency before receiving benefits; (4) many beneficiaries who completed VR programs either received less income than their SSDI benefits or not enough for them to give up the benefits; (5) most beneficiaries were afraid of losing their Medicare benefits, since they would not be able to replace them with other insurance; (6) although current work incentives were helpful to beneficiaries who were anxious to return to work, they did not induce others to attempt working; (7) more beneficiaries would attempt to work if their benefits were continued on a sliding scale based on earned income; and (8) although Congress directed the Social Security Administration (SSA) to experiment with a reduced benefit plan, it has not done so to date. GAO believes that SSA should determine whether providing benefits on a sliding scale would reduce SSDI costs.

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