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The Supplemental Security Income Program and Employment for Young Adults with Disabilities: An Analysis of the National Health Interview Survey on Disability

by Hugh G. Berry

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Recent welfare reform initiatives have focused on moving adults with disabilities from income maintenance programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) into paid work. Young adults with disabilities are a key group for targeted reforms because of their potential for obtaining early and long-term employment. Although there is substantial research focusing on the employment characteristics of working-age adults with disabilities, little recent data describe or explain the relationship between work and SSI participation for young adults with disabilities. This study examined data from the 1994 and 1995 National Health Interview Survey on Disability Supplement (NHIS-D) to describe the employment characteristics of young adults with disabilities, ages 18 to 29 years. In addition, this study examined the extent to which sociodemographic, education, health, disability, and program participation factors were associated with employment for this population. Findings are discussed in light of current SSI and employment policies as well as recommendations for reform.