[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 50 (Thursday, March 13, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 13601-13603]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-5036]


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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

[Docket No. SSA-2007-0016]


Supplemental Security Income, Youth Transition Demonstration

AGENCY: Social Security Administration (SSA).

ACTION: Notice of Extension and Modification of the Youth Transition 
Demonstration.

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SUMMARY: On October 7, 2003, the Commissioner of Social Security 
published a Notice in the Federal Register (68 FR 57950) announcing the 
beginning of a demonstration project designed primarily to test the 
effectiveness of altering certain Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 
and other program rules as an incentive to encourage individuals with 
disabilities or blindness to work or increase their work activity and 
earnings. In order to complete a more thorough evaluation of this 
project, we are extending the duration of the altered program rules in 
three of the seven original project locations and adding three new 
project locations that will also offer the alternative program rules.
    The Commissioner of Social Security is publishing this notice in 
accordance with 20 CFR 416.250(e) and conducting the project pursuant 
to authority in sections 234 and 1110 of the Social Security Act.

Background

    In October 2003, at the start of the Youth Transition Demonstration 
(we have slightly altered the project name from the original Notice), 
we announced the award of seven cooperative agreements in six states 
for the development and implementation of demonstration programs 
intended to help youth with disabilities maximize their economic self-
sufficiency as they transition from school to work. These seven 
programs (one each in California, Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, and 
Mississippi, and two in New York) worked with transition-aged youth 
(mostly between the ages of 14 and 25) who either receive SSI, Social 
Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Childhood Disability Benefits 
(CDB) or are at risk of receiving such benefits, including those who 
have a progressive disability, who have a prognosis for decreased 
functioning, or who have existing disabling conditions prior to age 18 
that would render them eligible except for deemed parental income. The 
projects were designed to help Federal, State, and local agencies 
develop and implement sustainable improvements in the delivery of 
transition services and supports. They also tested ways to remove other 
barriers to employment and economic self-sufficiency. The October 2003 
Notice stated that SSA would fund the projects on a yearly basis for up 
to five years, through September 2008, subject to the continued 
availability of funds and satisfactory progress.
    Currently, five of the original seven YTD projects remain fully 
operational. Two ended because of difficulty they had reaching the 
goals stated in their cooperative agreements. Two more will end in 
September 2008, when their original cooperative agreements expire, 
because they have not agreed to the type of methodology, random 
assignment (RA), that we are now requiring in the demonstration. The 
three remaining original projects (two in New York and one in Colorado) 
will continue with the YTD beyond 2008. However, all seven of the 
original projects will be included

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in our overall evaluation, specifically the process and implementation 
portion of the analysis.
    In the fall of 2006, in an effort to identify three additional 
programs for the YTD, we awarded funding to five candidate programs. In 
the five candidate programs, individuals were provided with additional 
services, but no SSI program rules were altered. Ultimately, we chose 
the three programs located in Florida, Maryland and West Virginia to 
take part in the YTD beginning in 2008. Each of the newly selected 
programs will receive funding for up to four years, ending in 2012, and 
will participate in all aspects of the YTD. Going forward, therefore, 
we will conduct the YTD with six programs: the three remaining original 
programs (one in Colorado and two in New York) and three new ones 
(Florida, Maryland and West Virginia).

Evaluation Status

    As noted above, three of the seven original programs and three new 
programs will be participating in the extended YTD and using RA 
methodology. Once the YTD is explained to potential participants and 
written consent is obtained stating that they want to participate in 
the study, the youth are placed either into a control group or a 
treatment group through a random process. Youth placed in the treatment 
group receive the enhanced YTD services and are subject to the 
alternative program rules, while youth in the control group receive 
only those rules and services that would have been available in the 
absence of the YTD project. Each treatment and control group will 
include at least 400 participants. The three original programs are 
already in the process of enrollment using RA and are scheduled to 
complete enrollment no later than January 2009. The three new programs 
are scheduled to begin enrollment using RA in spring 2008 and to end 
enrollment in spring 2010. We will fund the six programs using RA on a 
yearly basis for up to four years, ending in 2012, subject to the 
continued availability of funding.

The Extended YTD Evaluation Includes Four Data Collection and Research 
Activities

    1. The collection of administrative data and survey data on 
treatment and control group members at the time of RA and for four 
years after RA;
    2. A study of the implementation of all the YTD projects;
    3. A study of the impacts of the projects on youth outcomes, such 
as employment and earnings, receipt of disability benefits, and 
educational attainment;
    4. An analysis of the benefits and costs of the YTD projects.
    The YTD will end no later than September 30, 2013. An extended 
evaluation is being conducted over eight years. The evaluation began in 
September 2005 and will end in September 2013, with an additional year 
to prepare reports and findings. The first year of the evaluation was 
devoted to developing program models, providing technical assistance to 
existing YTD programs, and visiting locations to choose additional 
sites for the YTD. During the second year, the prospective locations 
operated pilot projects so that we could choose three new programs to 
fully participate in the YTD. We, and the evaluation contractor, will 
provide technical assistance to the project locations and will monitor 
them through repeated visits, as well as through the evaluation's web-
based case-management system. The evaluation contractor will collect 
and analyze administrative and survey data. Ultimately, the contractor 
will prepare reports on the evaluation findings.

Dates

    Because participants enroll in the programs at different times and 
at different ages, the alternative rules could be available to 
participants for lengths of time that vary by up to two years. To avoid 
this variation and thus to strengthen the YTD evaluation, the 
alternative program rules will apply as follows:
     Individuals participating in the YTD at the two original 
programs that are still operational, but are not continuing with the 
YTD after their original cooperative agreements end (California and 
Mississippi) will continue to receive alternative program rules as 
provided for in 68 FR 57950 until September 2008.
     For participants randomly assigned to a treatment group in 
one of the six YTD programs using RA, the alternative program rules 
will apply for a fixed period of four years or until the participant 
attains age 22, whichever occurs later. (In no instance will the 
alternative rules apply after September 30, 2013.)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Leola Brooks, Social Security 
Administration, Office of Program Development and Research, 400 
Virginia Avenue, SW., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20024; Phone (202) 358-
6294 or through e-mail to leola.brooks@ssa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Alternative SSI Program Rules That Apply to Participants in the YTD

    The alternative program rules that we are testing under the 
demonstration project consist of the following five elements. Element 1 
applies to SSI, SSDI and CDB beneficiaries. Elements 2 through 5 apply 
to SSI-only recipients.
    1. Despite the finding of a continuing disability review conducted 
in accordance with section 221(i) or section 1614(a)(3)(H) of the 
Social Security Act (the Act) or an age-18 medical redetermination 
conducted in accordance with section 1614(a)(3)(I) of the Act that an 
individual is no longer eligible for benefits, SSA will continue paying 
benefits for as long as the individual continues to be a YTD 
participant.
    2. The student earned-income exclusion (section 1612(b)(1) of the 
Act), which normally applies only to students who are age 21 or 
younger, will apply to all participants who meet school attendance 
requirements, without regard to their age.
    3. The general earned-income exclusion (section 1612(b)(4) of the 
Act) normally permits the exclusion of $65 plus half of what an 
individual earns in excess of $65. For the YTD, SSA will exclude the 
first $65 plus three-fourths of any additional earnings.
    4. SSA will extend the SSI program's treatment of Federally 
supported Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) (section 404(h) of the 
Act) to IDAs that do not involve Federal funds.
    An IDA is a trust-like savings account. Except for certain 
emergencies, funds in a Federally-supported IDA can be used only for 
going to college, buying a first home, or starting a business. The 
individual makes deposits from his or her earned income. The 
individual's contributions are matched, at rates that can vary from 1:1 
to 8:1, usually depending on the availability of funding.
    Social Security excludes Federally-supported IDAs when it 
determines whether someone's resources exceed the SSI limit. It also 
excludes matching contributions when it determines countable income. 
Further, Social Security deducts the beneficiary's own deposits from 
countable income, so that SSI benefits replace the amount deposited. As 
a result, an SSI beneficiary does not have to divert scarce resources 
from living expenses in order to save.
    Non-federally-supported IDA or ``IDA-like'' programs have emerged 
in a number of States. These programs usually permit an individual to 
save for one or more purposes in addition to the

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three mentioned above, such as transportation and/or assistive 
technology. The exclusions that apply to Federally-supported IDAs 
normally do not extend to these programs.
    5. Ordinarily, a plan for achieving self-support (PASS) must 
specify an employment goal (section 1633(d) of the Act), which refers 
to getting a particular kind of job or starting a particular business. 
For the YTD, SSA will approve an otherwise satisfactory PASS that has 
either career exploration or postsecondary education as its goal. If 
the goal is postsecondary education, the PASS must provide for 
developing a work goal at least one year prior to completion of the 
degree requirements.
    Income that an individual uses for PASS expenses does not count 
when SSA determines SSI eligibility and payment amount. Assets that an 
individual uses for PASS expenses do not count as resources when SSA 
determines SSI eligibility.

Extended Impact Evaluation Locations

Colorado

    Title: Colorado Youth Work Incentive Network of Supports (WINS).
    Lead Organization: University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
    Summary: Colorado's Youth WINS provides benefits counseling, 
consumer navigation, career counseling, and individualized job 
development and placement. Services are provided by a three-person team 
housed in local workforce centers.
    Project Sites: Boulder, Larimer, El Paso/Teller, Pikes Peak and 
Pueblo Counties.

New York

    Title: Transition WORKS.
    Lead Organization: Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services 
(BOCES).
    Summary: New York's Transition WORKS emphasizes self-advocacy and 
person-centered planning for youth and families located in Erie County. 
Transition Works provides job placement, work experience, intensive 
case management, transition planning, career exploration, and benefits 
counseling.
    Project Site: Erie County.

    Title: CUNY's Youth Transition Demonstration Project.
    Lead Organization: City University of New York (CUNY).
    Summary: New York's CUNY Youth Transition Demonstration Project 
provides person-centered planning, benefits counseling, vocational 
skills development, recreational activities, self-determination 
sessions, and parent-peer mentoring in Saturday group workshops located 
on CUNY campuses, along with the opportunity to participate in summer 
work experiences.
    Project Site: Bronx County.

Florida

    Title: Broadened Horizons Brighter Futures Program.
    Lead Organization: Abilities, Inc.
    Summary: Program services include paid work experience and 
customized job development and placement, self determination 
curriculum, and a focus on asset building and individual development 
accounts.
    Project Site: Miami-Dade County.

Maryland

    Title: Career Transition Program (CTP).
    Lead Organization: St. Luke's House.
    Summary: CTP will forge links with school systems and other systems 
to support employment and effective mental health treatment. The 
program targets youth with emotional disabilities, and includes a 
population of SSI and those at risk of becoming SSI recipients.
    Project Site: Montgomery County, MD.

West Virginia

    Title: West Virginia Youth Works--Youth Transition Project.
    Lead Organization: Human Resources Development Foundation (HRDF).
    Summary: In addition to paid and unpaid work experiences, youth 
will be provided benefits counseling, mentoring, counseling and 
guidance, case management, and service links. HRDF will partner with 
the West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities (WVU 
CED).
    Project Sites: Barbour, Harrison, Jackson, Lewis, Marion, 
Monongalia, Preston, Taylor, Upshur, Wood, Cabell, Fayette, Kanawha, 
Mason, Mercer, Putnam, Raleigh, and Wayne Counties.

    Dated: March 5, 2008.
Michael J. Astrue,
Commissioner of Social Security.
[FR Doc. E8-5036 Filed 3-12-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4191-02-P