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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, focusing on program weaknesses that impede the Social Security Administration (SSA) from identifying and expanding beneficiaries' return-to-work capabilities.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Social Security Administration 1. The Commissioner of Social Security should take immediate action to place greater priority on return to work, including designing more effective means to more accurately identify and expand beneficiaries' work capacities and better implementing existing return-to-work mechanisms. As part of this effort, the Commissioner should develop a legislative package for those areas in which SSA does not currently have legislative authority to enact change in order to position the agency to expeditiously redirect its emphasis on return to work.
Closed - Implemented
SSA has increased access to private vocational rehabilitation (VR) providers and awarded cooperative agreements to 12 states to develop integrated services to assist beneficiaries in returning to work. SSA is also planning to conduct research that will identify potentially eligible disabled populations and interventions that enable continued work effort among these populations. These efforts, however, would have greater impact if the determination process and cash and medical benefits were structured to give beneficiaries greater impetus to use VR services and to attempt work, and if return-to-work assistance were provided earlier in the decisionmaking process. Because SSA has placed greater emphasis on returning disabled beneficiaries to work, GAO is closing this recommendation.

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