Letters to denied disability applicants about employment support programs did not reduce appeals

People interacting at a desk with leaflets

People interacting at a desk with leaflets

What was the challenge?

Disability insurance (DI) both provides for those unable to work and supports self-sufficiency. Applicants to DI who are denied have poor subsequent labor force participation rates and earnings. The Social Security Administration (SSA) aimed to provide denied applicants resources to help them stay in the labor market or return to work.

What was the program change?

We helped design new outreach to DI applicants who were determined to be ineligible for the program. The outreach provided information about other services for which they may be eligible, including Vocational Rehabilitation and employment support through American Job Centers.

How did the evaluation work?

SSA mailed letters to roughly 44,000 denied applicants within 30 days of their denial notice at either the Initial, Reconsideration, or Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) appeals level. Another 44,000 denied applicants served as a control.


What was the impact?

Overall, there is no evidence that the notice increased or decreased appeals among those in the Initial or the Reconsideration denial group. Among denied applicants in the ALJ group, individuals who received the letter were about 2 percentage points more likely to appeal.





Project Type

Impact evaluation of program change


Social Security Administration



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