The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced the beginning of the Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) project. BOND is a special project that will test a new way to treat earnings for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries. SSA’s goal is to find out how disabled beneficiaries respond to rule changes that allow them to keep more of their benefits while trying to return to work.
Under current program rules, individuals who receive SSDI benefits generally lose their entire monthly cash benefit if their earnings exceed the $1000 per month after using up a nine-month trial work period (TWP). SSA pays benefits through the TWP and for an additional three months. If the worker continues to earn over the $1000 monthly limit in gross wages, SSA suspends benefit checks.
The BOND program provides randomly chosen SSDI beneficiaries with a gradual reduction of benefits ($1 for each additional $2 earned over a yearly threshold of $12000)—thus eliminating the “cash cliff” currently in effect. Those eligible for the benefit offset will be able to earn more from work and keep some of their disability benefits. SSA will continue to provide Medicare coverage to BOND participants earning over the limit.
Many SSDI beneficiaries worry about losing their cash benefits if they earn too much money. Congress has asked SSA to test policy changes to encourage workers with disabilities to return to gainful employment. SSA will randomly select SSDI beneficiaries in 10 sites around the country for the BOND project. The test will run from 2011 until September of 2022. Individual participants can only participate in the BOND test for five years.
State BOND offices will work with local agencies to explain BOND. If you are a SSDI beneficiary who receives a BOND notice in a letter or a phone call, be sure to contact BOND. If someone in your family receives a notice or call, encourage that person to respond. You can call toll-free:
Visit the BOND Website: http://www.bondssa.org
Voice: 1-877-7BOND09 (1-877-726-6309)
TTY: 1-877-7BOND90 (1-877-726-6390)