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Call for Papers: McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Solutions Initiative Seeking Proposals to Improve the Social Security Disability Insurance Program


The McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Solutions Initiative is now accepting proposals for commissioned papers on innovative ideas to improve the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) system. Accepted proposals will be presented at a conference in mid-2015, published and widely shared with policymakers. Proposals should be submitted by November 1, 2014.


The SSDI Solutions Initiative is a project dedicated to identifying practical policy changes to improve the SSDI program for its beneficiaries, those contributing to the program, the economy, and society as a whole. The goal of the project is to provide policymakers with realistic improvements to the SSDI program to accompany immediate steps to prevent insolvency or broader reforms to restore long-term financial sustainability to the Social Security system.

The initiative is soliciting ideas, which will be presented at a conference in Washington, DC and included in a consolidated volume that also synthesizes major findings. Upon publication, proposals will be disseminated widely and shared with policymakers in Congress, the Executive Branch, and various experts outside of government in advance of the program’s projected 2016 insolvency date.

The SSDI Solutions Initiative is co-chaired by former Congressmen Jim McCrery (R-LA) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), who will be supported by an Advisory Council of experts and a staff of analysts. The initiative is a project of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.


Authors will be asked to put forward innovative ideas or variations of existing ideas to improve the SSDI program. Authors will not be asked to conduct new original research, though they are encouraged to utilize existing research in explaining or making the case for their policy recommendations. Papers should be written for a broad audience.

A paper can be written by one or multiple authors. Authors with sponsors or funders are highly encouraged to submit a proposal, though stipends from the SSDI Solutions Initiative are available as well.

Topics: Authors are invited to submit proposals in a number of areas related to the SSDI program.  Each proposal can include one or a set of policy recommendations. The SSDI Solutions Initiative is particularly looking for papers addressing one or more of the following topics:

  1. Improving the Disability Determination Process, including changes regarding Disability Determination Services (DDSs), Administrative Law Judges (ALJs), the Appeals Council, and other changes to improve integration, to reduce complexity, or to address barriers for people with disabilities in the application and claims process.
  2. Modernizing Determination Criteria and Program Eligibility, including changes regarding insured status criteria, the definition of disability for SSDI eligibility, medical and vocational criteria to determine disabled worker status, and disability adjudicating standards.
  3. Strengthening Program Integrity and Management, including changes to improve the use of technology in monitoring, evaluating, and reporting performance; to reduce improper payments (including fraud); and to improve the Continuing Disability Review (CDR) process.
  4. Improving Incentives and Support for Beneficiaries to Return to Work, including changes to the Ticket to Work program, current Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) rules, benefit offsets, and new ideas to encourage work.
  5. Encouraging Disabled Workers to Remain in the Workforce, including early intervention, incentives and support to remain in the labor force, vocational rehabilitation, or other changes to the SSDI program or public policies assisting people with disabilities remain in the workforce.
  6. Improving SSDI Program Interaction with Other Federal, State, Local, and/or Private Programs, including changes to improve coordination with Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, Workers Compensation, job training, Supplemental Security Income, veterans’ disability, the Affordable Care Act, and other public or private programs.
  7. Moving beyond the Current “All or Nothing” System of Awarding Benefits, including changes to allow temporary or partial disability for some beneficiaries, or alternatives to cash benefits.
  8. Encouraging Employers to Support Disabled Workers, including changes to encourage employers to offer accommodation and rehabilitative services or additional insurance to employees with disabilities.

Topics not listed above are also welcome, but please contact us to discuss. Authors are encouraged to propose either incremental or broader policy changes, though authors suggesting larger reforms must recommend intermediate steps to move in the direction of their proposed change. Questions about any of the paper topics listed above or potential additional topics should be directed to

Format: Final papers should be 10-20 pages, single-spaced, written in Times New Roman size 12 font. Citations must be formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style. Papers should also include the following:

  1. Introduction
  2. Discussion of the problem being addressed
  3. Explanation of existing ideas or past initiatives aimed at addressing the issue. Where appropriate, papers should draw on SSDI demonstration projects, international experience, state and local government policies, or private sector experiences for illustration purposes
  4. Presentation and explanation of the policy recommendation(s)
  5. Analysis of potential costs and benefits of the policy recommendation(s), such as the financial (trust fund) impact, economic impact, distributional impact, impact on the welfare of individuals with disabilities, potential administrative challenges, and additional issues for consideration. This should include a discussion of strategies to overcome potential impediments and to avoid adverse effects or unintended consequences
  6. Description of possible intermediate steps – such as smaller scale versions of the policy recommendation(s) or demonstration projects – if needed to move towards implementing recommendation(s)
  7. Conclusion

While authors are encouraged to broadly discuss potential budgetary and distributional implications of recommendation(s), specific estimates are not necessary. SSDI Solutions Initiative staff may be able to help in acquiring estimates.


Format: Proposals should include the following information:

  1. Completed submission form
  2. CVs of author(s) 
  3. One-page executive summary outlining the paper’s goals, problem to be addressed, policy recommendation(s), and possible intermediate step(s) to implement the policy proposal

Selection Criteria: Proposals will be selected based on topic relevance, innovativeness, and the degree to which the proposal could help improve the SSDI program, its beneficiaries, workers who pay into the program, or the broader economy. Priority will be given to proposals that could be realistically enacted and implemented within the next few years or else include intermediate steps that could be implemented in the short term. Proposals will be selected by the Initiative Co-Chairs, in consultation with the Advisory Council.

Submission Process and Timeline

Proposals must be sent electronically by November 1, 2014 to Authors will be notified by early December, 2014 if their proposals are accepted. First drafts of the papers will be due by April 1, 2015, and will be subject to both a formal peer review and feedback from the SSDI Solutions Initiative. Final drafts will be due by June 15, 2015.  After the conference, authors will have roughly one month to finalize drafts for publication.

Intention to submit a proposal: Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to submit a notice of intent to apply as soon as possible to, including the name and title of the applicant and the proposal’s topic.