The Impact of Work Incentives Benefits Counseling on Employment Outcomes: A National Vocational Rehabilitation Study

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Background: Millions of Americans receiving Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits aspire to work and reduce reliance on disability benefits, but find the rules about entering or rejoining the workforce too complex or confusing and fear that working will cause loss of important benefits.

Purpose: A case control study was conducted to investigate the impact of receiving work incentives benefits counseling (WIBC) on employment outcomes, and its relationship with demographic covariates for U.S. vocational rehabilitation (VR) clients who are SSA disability benefit recipients.

Method: Data for this study were extracted from the Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA-911) database. Mahalanobis distance matching procedures were used to match clients who received WIBC with those who did not receive it. Chi-square independence tests and independent samples t tests were used to compare receipt of WIBC and employment outcomes based on the demographic variables. Additionally, chi squared automatic interaction detection (CHAID) analysis was used to divide VR clients into homogeneous groups based on the covariates.

Results: Clients who received WIBC were more likely to obtain competitive integrated employment (CIE). Impairment type, referral source, long-term employment and education level were significantly associated with CIE for clients who received WIBC. Additionally, VR clients with sensory/communicative impairments and low-income status were less likely to receive WIBC. Conclusion: Modifying VR structure to be more inclusive; understanding of stigma; and increasing the functioning, psychological well-being and self-efficacy of VR clients might improve employment outcomes.


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