The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Disability Determination (DDP) Small Grant Program, which provided $10,000 research stipends to graduate students in the area of disability, has successfully concluded. In total 55 research projects were completed, designed to assist SSA with its disability determination process. Research was conducted on the process itself, the Compassionate Allowance program, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s  (SAMHSA’s) SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) program, to name a few.

Students submitted proposals that were reviewed by PRI and SSA staff. They were required to submit a detailed work plan of how their research would be carried out within the one-year time frame.  Quarterly reports and calls with students, their faculty mentors, and PRI staff monitored their progress and addressed issues that arose. Draft papers were reviewed and feedback provided; final papers were posted on the DDP website, if they were approved. These papers can be found on the DDP website.

Students’ and faculty mentors’ response to the program was overwhelmingly positive. Many felt that it had significantly impacted their career trajectories and future research. Students also appreciated the opportunity to conduct independent research, providing an important learning experience for their future research. Additional comments and other information about the DDP program can be found in the final report.  Over half of the students responding to our survey stated that they had published their research in peer-reviewed journals; almost two-thirds had presented their findings in a variety of venues.

SSA has continued to fund student research with the Analyzing Relationships between Disability, Rehabilitation, and Work (ARDRAW) program. The objective of this new  five-year research grant program is to foster analysis of work, rehabilitation, and disability issues, with a focus on research relevant to SSA’s work incentives and employment support – specifically rehabilitation, work and the disability program. The first cohort is already underway. Applications for the second cohort are due March 1, 2018. Information will be posted on the ARDRAW website.