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., Black, A., Mamun, A., Manno, M., Martinez, J., O’Day, B., O’Toole, M., Rangarajan, A., & Reed, D. (2011). The Social Security Administration’s Youth Transition Demonstration Projects: Interim report on Transition WORKS. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.
- This study’s objective was to measure 12-month impacts of the Transition WORKS, one of six project sites of the larger Social Security Administration (SSA)–sponsored Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD) projects that used a randomized evaluation. Transition WORKS provided services to help youth with severe disabilities improve their education and employment outcomes and become more economically self-sufficient.
- Data were collected from a baseline survey and 12-month follow-up survey, 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 Transition WORKS did not achieve any statistically significant impacts on paid employment, educational attainment, or Social Security disability benefit during the 12-month follow-up period.
- 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 would be attributable solely to Transition WORKS, and not to other factors.
The Youth Transition Demonstration Projects, Transition WORKS
Features of the Intervention
Transition WORKS, based in Erie County, NY 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. From 2007 to 2009, the Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services adapted its school-based intervention to provide direct employment services and a career-focused curriculum to out-of-school as well as in-school youth. The approach emphasized individualized transition services instead of group-focused supports. Transition WORKS youth received services including transition planning, work-based experiences and other employment services, education support services, instruction on benefits-related paperwork, social and health services, and SSA benefits counseling.
All YTD participants were also eligible for waivers that (1) extended the Student Earned Income Exclusion to all YTD participants, regardless of age, who attended school; (2) increased the Earned Income Exclusion to a $1 reduction in 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 continuing disability review or age-18 SSI medical redetermination.
Features of the Study
The study was a randomized controlled trial. A total of 459 youth were randomly assigned to the treatment group and 384 were assigned to the control group. Data were collected from baseline and 12-month follow-up surveys and the 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 total income from earnings and benefits.
- Transition WORKS achieved no statistically significant impacts on paid employment, earnings, educational attainment, monthly Social Security disability benefit receipt, or total income from earnings and benefits.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors suggested that the lack of impacts may have been attributable to the geographic dispersion of services and the inability of service providers to offer the frequency of contact and extent of services necessary to impact employment and earnings outcomes.
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 would be attributable solely to Transition WORKS, and not to other factors.