Accelerated Benefits (AB) Demonstration

An Evidence-Based Practice


In 2006, the Social Security Administration developed and funded the Accelerated Benefits (AB) Demonstration project, which allowed earlier access to health care and related services for new Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries who lack health care coverage. Usually, individuals who qualify for SSDI must complete a five-month waiting period to receive cash benefits, followed by a 24-month waiting period to qualify for Medicare. The AB demonstration project eliminated the waiting period for access to health care benefits.

The goal of this demonstration project was to test whether this investment in health care for newly entitled SSDI beneficiaries has long-term pay-offs. The program sought to answer whether such a short-term investment would improve beneficiaries' medical conditions, increase the likelihood that they will return to work, and reduced reliance on SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration appointed MDRC as prime contractor for the demonstration.

Goal / Mission

The program's goal was to eliminate the waiting period for access to health care benefits for newly entitled SSDI beneficiaries, and see if this investment has long-term benefits.

Results / Accomplishments

Enrollment in AB began in October 2007 and ended in January 2009. Over 2,000 individuals were randomly assigned into three groups: (1) receiving accelerated benefits, (2) receiving accelerated benefits and telephone support services, and (3) a control group. Six-month follow-up findings reveal that the project increased the use of health care services and reduced the reported unmet health care needs of the AB participants. Health status and employment outcomes will be available in early 2011.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
David Wittenburg
19th Floor
16 East 34 Street
New York, NY 10016-4326
(212) 532-3200
Health / Disabilities
Government & Politics / Programs, Policies, & Laws
Social Security Administration (SSA)
Date of publication
Apr 2010
Date of implementation
For more details
Target Audience
Additional Audience
Individuals with Disabilities