Absence of conflict of interest: This study was conducted by staff from Mathematica Policy Research, which administers CLEAR. Therefore, the review of this study was conducted by an independent consultant trained in applying the CLEAR causal evidence guidelines.
Fraker, T., Honeycutt, T., Mamun, A., Manno, M., Martinez, J., O’Day, B., Reed, D., & Thompkins, A. (2012). The Social Security Administration’s Youth Transition Demonstration projects: Interim report on Broadened Horizons, Brighter Futures. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.
- This study’s objective was to measure 12-month impacts of the Florida Broadened Horizons, Brighter Futures (BHBF) program, one of six project sites of the larger Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD) projects that used randomized evaluations. The Social Security Administration (SSA) sponsored the evaluation. BHBF provided services to help youth with severe disabilities improve their employment outcomes and become more economically self-sufficient.
- Data were collected from baseline and 12-month follow-up surveys, the Ticket Research File (TRF), and Master Earnings File (MEF). The authors estimated program impacts on measures of paid employment, educational attainment, and Social Security disability benefit receipt.
- The study found that BHBF had statistically significant impacts on employment and Social Security disability benefit receipt at the 12-month follow-up. There were no impacts on educational attainment or earnings.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it is based on a well-conducted randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the effects estimated in the study are attributable solely to BHBF, and not to other factors.
The Youth Transition Demonstration Projects, Broadended Horizons, Brighter Futures
Features of the Intervention
BHBF in Miami-Dade County, Florida, was one of six project sites using a randomized design as part of the larger SSA-sponsored YTD, which intended to help youth with disabilities become more economically self-sufficient and improve their employment outcomes. Each site varied in terms of services provided and targeted participants. From April 2008 to March 2012, ServiceSource, a nonprofit organization focused on people with disabilities, offered person-centered case management services to young SSA recipients (ages 16 to 22) with severe disabilities. BHBF included personalized employment services and benefits counseling, financial literacy training, access to individual development accounts, and case management services focused on reducing barriers to employment. Among those enrolled in the study, 84 percent received these services, amounting to 29 hours of services per person, on average.
All YTD participants were also eligible for waivers that (1) extended the student earned income exclusion to all YTD participants regardless of age, (2) increased the earned income exclusion to a $1 reduction in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit for every $4 earned above a base amount, and (3) delayed benefit cessation for YTD participants who were determined ineligible for benefits after a benefit review or age-18 SSI medical redetermination.
Features of the Study
The study was a randomized controlled trial that randomly assigned 460 youth to the treatment group and 399 youth to the control group. Data were collected from baseline and 12-month follow-up surveys and SSA’s TRF and MEF. The TRF supplied data on benefit receipt status, benefit amounts paid, and disabling condition, whereas the MEF provided baseline earnings information. Regression-adjusted impacts were estimated for several outcomes, such as paid employment, earnings, educational attainment, monthly Social Security disability benefit receipt, and income from earnings and benefits.
- Miami-Dade County, Florida
- The study found that BHBF had statistically significant impacts on employment and Social Security disability benefit receipt. Treatment group members experienced a 9.4 percentage point increase in employment rates and collected $312 more in Social Security disability benefits than the control group.
- BHBF had no statistically significant impacts on earnings, education (high school enrollment/graduation), or total income.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
Only 84 percent of youth assigned to the treatment group actually enrolled in BHBF during the study period. In addition, about half of the youth were still in school during the follow-up period, which could have limited their ability to work and earn income.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it is based on a well-conducted randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the effects estimated in the study are attributable solely to BHBF, and not to other factors.