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A Qualitative Study of the Experiences of Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities in Relation to SSI Redetermination (Policy Research Brief)

Authors: David R. Johnson, Mary McEathron, Jane Fields, Katharine Hill,


This Policy Research Brief was a report of original research done with adolescent as they moved through the process of becoming recertified for federal benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI provides monthly income support and eligibility for Medicaid to individuals with disabilities based on their inability to find jobs and support themselves in the competitive marketplace. While many become eligible for SSI as children, continuation into adulthood requires a recertification.

The full report goes into extensive detail about what was learned through interviews of 34 young adults who had been through the recertification process (click on the “Web Links” tab above to go to the full text), below is a sampling of what was learned organized according to the sections used in the Policy Research Brief.

Regarding understanding of SSI benefits and the recertification process:
- “Many of the people interviewed had, at best, an incomplete or limited understanding of SSI and the web of associated benefits and programs.”

- “In several cases, both young adults and their parents seemed unsure which government benefits they received.”

- “In focus groups and one-on-one interviews, service providers reported feeling uncomfortable helping or advising students about the SSI program.”

Regarding participation in SSI and successful outcomes in the areas of employment , independent living, and community participation:
- “Of the young adults who had worked or who were working at the time of the interviews, many had not held any job other than the work experiences arranged for them as part of their secondary education and/or transition program.”

- “Many of the young adults experienced difficulties in holding a job.”

- “Often the jobs held by these young adults were positions with typically high-turnover rates, so employers were not motivated to spend extra time in training and/or accommodations.”

- “Many of the young adults spent much of their free time in their bedrooms watching television or movies or playing electronic games (e.g., PlayStation).”

Other findings in the report:
- “Generally, if the young person was no longer living at home, the SSI check was spent almost entirely to cover the recipient’s day-to-day expenses.”

- “A concern for safety, and even perceived risk, played a role in many of the young adults’ ability to interact with friends and to participate in the community.”

- “A major barrier to employment and building strong connections outside their homes for all the young adults interviewed was a lack of access to reliable transportation.”

Description based on a review of (with bullets copied from) the Policy Research Brief as viewed online on 4/19/2012 at ici.umn.edu/products/prb/181/default.html

Contact Info:
Organization:Publications Office
Address:Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD)
150 Pillsbury Dr SE, Room 109
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Web Links

Read the full text online (HTML)

Download the Policy Research Brief as a PDF file

See a list of other Policy Research Briefs

Home page of the publisher, Institute on Community Integration

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