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Supplemental Security Income and Vocational Rehabilitation for Transition-Age Individuals with Disabilities

by Hugh G. Berry, Debra Price-Ellingstad, William Halloran, & Thomas Finch

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This study analyzed the 1996 Rehabilitation Services Administration's (RSA) 911 case service database to determine the characteristics of 59,624 transition-age Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program participants and nonparticipants who exited a vocational rehabilitation program with employment outcomes. Analyses focused on vocational rehabilitation closure statuses, major disabling conditions, earnings and benefits, and services and training received. Findings indicated that SSI participants were just as likely to achieve employment outcomes as SSI nonparticipants. Transition-age SSI participants worked fewer hours and earned less than their nonparticipant counterparts, and employed SSI participants who exited the vocational rehabilitation program were most often persons with mental retardation who continued to receive public assistance income while working. These findings and issues are discussed in terms of policies that emphasize increased work and earnings through the use of SSI work incentives and the provision of timely, consumer oriented services through the vocational rehabilitation program.