Selected Proposals (Phase II)

In April 2018, the McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Solutions Initiative launched the second phase of the project, which builds upon the proposals advanced in SSDI Solutions and will help set the stage for more policy changes well in advance of the next SSDI solvency deadline.

The following papers have been published thus far:

"An Operational Approach to Eliminating Backlogs in the Social Security Disability Program" by Gerald Ray and Glenn Sklar – Ensuring that the Social Security adjudication system runs optimally, efficiently, and fairly is a tremendous responsibility. The authors have spent the bulk of their professional careers trying to find ways to improve operational efficiencies at the agency. In this paper, the authors share strategies on how to prevent backlogs from cropping up at the agency, how to resolve backlogs that are outside the agency’s control, ways to ensure accountability and employee performance, strategies for improved employee engagement and morale at SSA, and how to prevent fraudulent conduct that can erode program credibility and support. Read the full paper.

“Compression and Rationalization: Demarcating the Roles of DDS and ALJs in the Disability Determination Process” by Harold J. Krent – This paper closely examines the Social Security Disability adjudication system and its strengths and weaknesses. It reviews administrative systems at the state, federal, and international levels in an effort to learn from models that have worked more effectively than the SSDI adjudication framework. It also considers the potential costs and benefits of different reform proposals, such as introducing adversarial hearings or streamlining the appeals process. Read the full paper.

“Developing Social Security Disability (SSDI) Reform Demonstrations to Improve Opportunities and Outcomes Based on Lessons Learned” by Jason Fichtner and Jason Seligman – There is strong interest in demonstration projects that test potential SSDI reforms, but outside observers agree that past SSDI demonstrations have suffered from substandard design and execution. This research paper surveys past demonstration and pilot projects and identifies what works and what doesn’t work. The authors then discuss how these lessons can be used to help maximize the success of future SSDI demonstrations by applying the lessons learned to their previous proposals. Read the full paper.

“Development of an Employment/Eligibility Services (EES) System” by David Stapleton, Yonatan Ben-Shalom, and David Mann – This paper develops a preliminary demonstration design for an Employment/Eligibility Services (EES) system originally proposed by the authors in SSDI Solutions. The central idea of EES is to replace existing SSDI eligibility and return-to-work services with a system in which employment supports are integrated with the eligibility determination process and incentives are realigned to improve return-to-work efforts and reduce SSDI entry. The authors specify key operational components of a draft demonstration while revising certain design features in order to maximize the likelihood of bipartisan support. Read the full paper. (Section 508 compliant version available here.)

“Implementing a Community-Focused Health & Work Service (HWS)” by Jennifer Christian, Thomas Wickizer, and Kim Burton – This paper serves as a follow up to the author’s SSDI Solutions proposal for Community-Based Health & Work Centers that provide near-immediate assistance to individuals who experience a work-disrupting health episode, which the Department of Labor (DOL) is currently adapting into a demonstration project. The authors review critical lessons learned from the implementation of similar programs in the United Kingdom and Washington State and present DOL with a series of observations, cautions, and recommendations aimed at ensuring the success of the demonstration. Read the full paper. (Technical Appendix available here.)

“Targeting Early Intervention Based on Health Care Utilization of SSDI Beneficiaries by State, with Emphasis on Mental Disorder and Substance Abuse” by Joyce Manchester – This paper uses Medicare Part B fee-for-service claims in 2012 for people under age 65 to examine health care utilization of people on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The author identifies differences in types of care used across states that could help inform the early intervention efforts states should target. The paper specifically focuses on mental health services and services related to substance abuse to better understand how the opioid crisis is affecting the SSDI population. Read the full paper.

"Automatic Enrollment in Private Group Disability Insurance: Evaluation of Evidence to Date and Prospects for the Future” by Mark F. Meyer – This paper examines the benefits of private disability insurance and how allowing employers to auto-enroll employees in private disability insurance plans can boost enrollment. Building off his previous proposal with David F. Babbel in SSDI Solutions, the author investigates how behavioral economics and “nudge theory” support evidence of the success of automatic enrollment. It also looks at how different stakeholders – including employers, brokers, and regulations – can encourage adoption of auto-enrollment and PDI enrollment more broadly. Read the full paper.