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Dec 30 -- The Social Security Administration (SSA) invites comments by February 28, 2023 regarding the Vocational Resource Facilitator Demonstration.

SSA is undertaking the Vocational Resource Facilitator Demonstration (VRFD) under the Interventional Cooperative Agreement Program (ICAP). ICAP allows SSA to partner with various non-federal groups and organizations to advance interventional research connected to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs.

VRFD will test the Vocational Resource Facilitator (VRF) intervention, which helps newly injured spinal cord injury or disease (SCI) or brain injury (BI) patients pursue their employment goals. The VRFD will provide empirical evidence on the impact of the intervention on patients in several critical areas: (1) employment and earnings; (2) SSI and SSDI benefit receipt; and (3) satisfaction and well-being. A rigorous evaluation of VRFD is critical to help SSA and other interested parties assess promising options to improve employment-related outcomes and decrease benefit receipt.

The VRFD evaluation uses a randomized control experimental design that includes one treatment group and one control group. Control group members will receive a referral for services to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS), New Jersey's state Vocational Rehabilitation agency. The treatment group will receive a referral to DVRS and employment services from a resource facilitator (RF). RFs are fully integrated members of clinical teams who engage with injured workers during inpatient rehabilitation about return to work.

The central research questions include:

-- Was the intervention implemented as planned?
-- What are key considerations for scaling up or adopting the VRF model at other facilities?
-- What were the impacts of VRF on outcomes of interest?
-- Did treatment group members earn or work more than control group members?
-- Were treatment group members relatively less likely to apply to or receive SSI or SSDI benefits?
-- Did treatment group members experience greater satisfaction and well-being than control group members?
-- What were the benefits and costs of the demonstration across key groups?

The proposed public survey data collections will support three components of the planned implementation, impact, and benefit-cost analyses. The data collection efforts will provide information that is not available in SSA program records about the characteristics and outcomes of VRFD participants in the treatment and control groups. Respondents are newly injured SCI and BI patients, who will provide written consent before agreeing to participate in the study and be randomly assigned to one of the study groups.

VRF Model within Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation: A Narrative and Guide https://www.kflearn.org/courses/vocational-resource-facilitation-model-within-spinal-cord-injury-rehabilitation-a-narrative-and-guide
Draft VFRD materials: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/84qi5bz6g0kwi9roolc8z/h?dl=0&rlkey=f1oymyde2wg6kvrmjjpyvbjw3
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-28433

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