Disability Determination Process Small Grant Program (DDP)
Consultative Examination Study
Consultative Exam (CE) Baseline Study
The National Survey of SSI Children and Families (NSCF)
Ticket to Work Evaluation

The National Beneficiary Survey (NBS)
HIV Report
Cardiovascular Report


Disability Determination Process Small Grant Program (DDP)

Grant # IDD11000001

On September 1, 2011, we awarded a 5-year grant (renewable annually) to Policy Research Inc. (PRI) in Delmar, New York. The goal of this program is to improve the disability determination process by making small stipends ($10,000) available to graduate students for innovative research relevant to the disability program.  This will allow graduate-level students to conduct supervised independent research on improving disability determination processes.  PRI manages this project.

Current status:

PRI is currently reviewing applications for the fourth cohort. Once PRI announces Cohort 4 awards, information on any future cohorts will follow. You can find more information about the program at the PRI website.

You can also view completed reports on the PRI website. Access the completed final reports by clicking on the title of the report. Titles without click-through capability are ongoing projects that are not complete or accessible at this time.


Consultative Examination Study

The consultative examination (CE) study featured medical consultants (MC) with administrative assistance from disability examiners reviewing both initial and hearings level CEs, focusing on:

  • CE Processes. Are CE requests complying with Federal regulations?

  • CE Content. Are medical sources conducting CEs and including content in compliance with Federal regulations?

  • CE Completeness and Quality. Do CEs include sufficient information to make a disability determination, and did the agency receive everything it paid for in the exam? Additionally, are there process and content factors that contribute to the quality of CEs?

Comprehensive Occupational Medical Services, subcontracting with Mathematica Policy Research, performed this study. They developed a questionnaire and studied 327 closed case folders containing CEs before the disability determination at the initial or hearing level.

They delivered a methodological report documenting the questionnaire reliability:  “Inter-Rater Reliability Analysis of Data to Document the Consultative Examination Process” (Volume 1 and Volume 2).   In another report they analyzed findings from the 327 case folders: “An Assessment of Consultative Examination Processes, Content, and Quality: Findings from the CE Review Data.”

A third deliverable is a reliable web-based questionnaire, with reliability established using agency MCs. The questionnaire is available for future agency research projects and programmatic improvements.


Consultative Exam (CE) Baseline Study

A CE is a physical or mental examination performed by a treating source or other medical source when additional information (e.g., clinical findings, laboratory tests, diagnosis, and prognosis) is needed to make a disability determination. The CE Baseline Study analyzed and documented the quality of CEs used in the initial level of disability determination; assessed if CEs were requested in compliance with SSA regulations; and established a baseline for CE quality.   

There were important limitations to this study. The study used the electronic folder for review.  At the time of the study, an electronic folder for the initial claim record was not available in sufficient numbers in all States.  Comparisons could only be made between States with electronic folders, and the cases were selected in a non-scientific manner, thus limiting the ability to generalize the study findings.  The study also did not include CEs obtained at the hearings level.  At the time of the study electronic folders were not available at that level.


The National Survey of SSI Children and Families (NSCF)

The NSCF collected data on the health status, functional limitations, health care utilization, health insurance coverage, receipt of services, SSI experience, and socioeconomic status of the households of over 8,000 children who were receiving, had received, or were applying for SSI.  The study was limited to the non-institutionalized population in the contiguous United States.  Data collection began July 2001 and concluded July 2002.  

We are exploring our options for a second National Survey of SSI Children and Families in the coming years and have posted a link to a survey options report.  This report provides options related to the structure and technical aspects of a potential new survey.

For more information, continue to the NSCF page.


Ticket to Work Evaluation

For information on the Ticket to Work (TTW) program, visit The Work Site.

The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-170) requires the Commissioner of Social Security to provide for independent evaluations to assess the effectiveness of the Ticket to Work program and submit reports to Congress with findings and recommendations to improve the program.  We completed the evaluation in July 2013.

Please see the Ticket to Work Evaluation page for links to the Ticket to Work evaluation reports, policy briefs summarizing key findings from the reports, and the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) evaluation reports (which we examined as part of the Ticket to Work evaluation).

We initially conducted the National Beneficiary Survey (NBS) as part of the Ticket to Work evaluation.  For more information on the NBS, please continue to the NBS page.


The National Beneficiary Survey (NBS)

The National Beneficiary Survey (NBS) collects data from a national sample of Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries and a sample of Ticket to Work program participants.  To ensure that the survey represents the full range of beneficiary perspectives, we field the survey using procedures that accommodate the needs of respondents with all kinds of disabilities. We conducted the first four rounds of the NBS in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2010.

The NBS collects data on a wide range of topics including socio-demographic information, limiting conditions, health and functional status, health insurance, interest in work, barriers to work, use of services, employment, income, and experience with Social Security programs.  As a result, both we and external researchers interested in disability and employment issues can use the survey data for policymaking and program-planning efforts. Some sections of the first four rounds of the NBS target beneficiary activity directly related to the Ticket to Work (TTW) program.  Future rounds of the NBS will shift from focusing on the TTW program and will include more information on the factors associated with successful and unsuccessful work attempts by beneficiaries.

For more information, continue to the NBS page.

We have created Public Use Files for the first four rounds of the NBS. For more information about the Public Use Files, please continue to the NBS Public Use page.


HIV Report

In 2009, SSA commissioned a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of The National Academies on the criteria that SSA uses to evaluate disability in persons with HIV infection.  The IOM published the report, HIV and Disability: Updating the Social Security Listings, in 2010. The report recommended ways to improve the utility of the HIV infection listings by improving the sensitivity and specificity of listing criteria for evaluating HIV infection. 

To view the full report, continue to the HIV Report.


Cardiovascular Report

In 2009, SSA commissioned a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of The National Academies on the criteria that SSA uses to evaluate disability in persons with cardiovascular disorders.  The IOM published the report, Cardiovascular Disability: Updating the Social Security Listings, in 2010. The report recommended ways to improve the utility of the cardiovascular listings by improving the sensitivity and specificity of listing criteria for evaluating cardiovascular disorders.

To view the full report, continue to the Cardiovascular Report.