SUMMARY: The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 extended the Social Security Administration’s authority to conduct demonstration projects and mandated implementation of the Promoting Opportunity Demonstration Project to encourage work for those receiving Social Security disability benefits. SSAB commissioned Michael Wiseman*, Research Professor of Public Policy, Public Administration, and Economics at The George Washington University to write a report to the Board evaluating the design of the new demonstration project. The report reflects the views solely of Prof. Wiseman.
His report draws attention to several weaknesses in the project’s design: (1) the new offset rules create work disincentives and inequities, (2) the mandated demonstration unnecessarily replicates features of other demonstrations currently in progress, and (3) certain mandated elements of the demonstration will make it impossible to draw inferences from the demonstration on how plausible policies would affect behavior nationwide. Because of these weaknesses, Prof. Wiseman recommends delay or redesign of the demonstration project.
*Michael Wiseman is a Research Professor of Public Policy, Public Administration, and Economics at The George Washington University and Visiting Scholar in the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Before moving to GWU, he was Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley (18 years), Professor of Public Affairs, Urban and Regional Planning, and Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (10 years) and Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington (2 years). He is an affiliated scholar with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has served as consultant on and contributor to policy evaluation and program management for various federal government agencies, state governments, social welfare agencies, international organizations, and evaluation contractors.