Profile of SSI and DI Beneficiaries with Work Goals and Expectations in 2015
Individuals participating in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) programs must demonstrate an inability to work at substantial levels to qualify for disability benefits. Nonetheless, many of these individuals work, and about 45 percent consider employment either a personal goal or a near-term expectation. This brief presents an updated profile of these work-oriented beneficiaries and compares them to other SSI and DI beneficiaries who are not interested in work. We found that work-oriented beneficiaries are younger, more highly educated, and in better health than other beneficiaries. Despite having work goals and being more likely to have attributes favorable for employment, only one-third of work-oriented beneficiaries had been recently employed or were actively seeking work in 2015. Poor health, the inability to find a job, and being discouraged by previous attempts to work were among the most common reasons for not working, and one-quarter of work-oriented SSI recipients had never held a paid job. Most work-oriented beneficiaries were unaware of key SSI and DI work supports. The findings suggest that various types of supports might help work-oriented beneficiaries to overcome their barriers and achieve their goal of being employed.