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June 17 -- The Social Security Administration (SSA) invites comments by August 16, 2022 on its proposed National Beneficiary Survey (NBS).

SSA's Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs provide a crucial and necessary safety net for working-aged people with disabilities. By improving employment outcomes for SSDI beneficiaries and SSI recipients, SSA supports the effort to reduce the reliance of people with disabilities on these programs. SSA previously conducted seven rounds of the National Beneficiary Survey (NBS) in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2015, 2017, and 2019. Conducting the prior rounds of the NBS provided SSA with an important understanding of the work interests and experiences of SSI recipients and SSDI beneficiaries, and helped SSA gain information about their impairments; health; living arrangements; family structure; pre-disability occupation; and use of non-SSA programs (e.g., the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The prior rounds of NBS data are available to researchers and the public. SSA contracted with Mathematica to conduct the NBS data collection.

The primary purpose of the new NBS is to: (1) assess beneficiary well-being and interest in work; (2) learn about beneficiary work experiences (successful and unsuccessful); and (3) to identify factors that promote or restrict long-term work success. As with the previous NBS rounds, the current NBS will collect information on factors such as health; living arrangements; family structure; current occupation; use of non-SSA programs; knowledge of SSDI and SSI work incentive programs; obstacles to work; and beneficiary interest and motivation to return to work. SSA is requesting clearance to administer Round 8 of the NBS in 2023. The information we will collect is not something we can obtain from SSA administrative data or other sources.

In the Round 8 NBS, the sample design is similar to the ones we used for the prior NBS. The sample includes the nationally representative beneficiary samples (RBS) of adult SSDI and SSI disability program participants, as well as the successful worker sample (SWS) which includes beneficiaries who worked above the substantial gainful activity for at least three consecutive months during the six months preceding their NBS interview. SSA plans to complete 8,000 interviews: 5,000 from a cross-sectional sample of active beneficiaries (SSI and SSDI) and 3,000 from a successful worker sample, and will conduct the survey interviews primarily by telephone. We will send a letter in advance informing the beneficary that an interviewer will contact them to conduct, or schedule a date and time for the survey. The beneficiary can also contact the 800 number we provide in the sample letter to schedule the interview or take the survey with an interviewer. We will send follow-up letters and postcards reminding the beneficiary to contact us, if they have not already done so, and we will also send postcard messages about establishing the best time for the beneficiary to take the survey.

In addition to the Round 8 NBS, we propose to conduct an experimental web and a paper-based data collection effort to test if these modes are feasible methods to collect data from nonrespondents. SSA will conduct this experiment during the administration of the Round 8 NBS, and we will include a shorter version of the instrument for web and paper administration designed to collect critical data from nonrespondents to the telephone interview modality. We will mail the abbreviated experimental paper version survey to the beneficiaries to complete and send back to Mathematica.

We will pull the sample for the experimental web and paper administration of the NBS from Round 8 SWS nonrespondents. Respondent participation in the NBS is voluntary and the decision to participate has no impact on current or future receipt of payments or benefits. Respondents are current SSDI beneficiaries and SSI recipients.

NBS webpage: https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/nbs.html
Draft survey instruments: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/68osrrm1zyzb4kx/AADU1cTZ4G_FBtxhiv2wpyjKa?dl=0
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-13028

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