Rehabilitation Services Administration-Social Security Administration Data Link, 1980-1988
Investigators: Rehabilitation Services Administration, and Social Security Administration

The State-Federal Program of Vocational Rehabilitation provides individualized vocational rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities to help them attain, maintain, or regain employment. In the course of providing these services, State Rehabilitation Agencies maintain case records on all of the individuals requesting services under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended. In an effort to improve program evaluation through the exchange of statistical information, the Department of Education's Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) have established a Data Link. The continuing exchange of RSA-SSA Data was established in law with Section 141 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992. The merging of records of these two agencies has advanced the understanding of the rehabilitation experience of disabled persons by providing their employment, earnings, and beneficiary history following the receipt of services through the State-Federal Program of Vocational Rehabilitation.

The RSA-SSA Data Link allows researchers to examine key issues regarding rehabilitation, including whether or not rehabilitated persons remain employed and for how long; the earnings of rehabilitated persons in the years following case closure; how earnings of rehabilitated persons compare to those of persons who could not be rehabilitated or who were not accepted for rehabilitation services; how well severely disabled individuals responded to their rehabilitation experience compared to their non-severely disabled counterparts; how frequently rehabilitated persons become publicly supported; whether or not rehabilitated persons are less likely to require public support than individuals who could not be rehabilitated or were not accepted for rehabilitation services; and the work histories of disabled persons in the years prior to their rehabilitative experience.

The RSA-SSA Data Link is comprised of individuals whose cases were closed in FY 1988 in the State-Federal Program of Vocational Rehabilitation. Closed cases may be categorized as rehabilitated, not rehabilitated, or not accepted for rehabilitation services. Records are collected annually on disabled persons whose cases are closed and matched with records on earnings from the Social Security Administration.

RADIUS staff have prepared these data as two files. First, Data Set 27 includes information from 605,872 RSA clients on 84 variables. The following information is included in RADIUS Data Set 27: major and secondary disabling conditions; receipt of public support income; vocational rehabilitation services received; and occupation. Data Set 27 also includes measurements of sex and date of birth as provided by RSA records. Second, Data Set 28-29 includes aggregated information on income, quarterly earnings, and sex and race as assessed by the Social Security Administration. Data were aggregated within years of application to VR services (1975 through 1988) for each agency. That is, each line in the file contains count data on a single rehabilitation center's client characteristics for a particular year between 1975 and 1988. Data Set 28-29 contains 18 years of data for 57 agencies (760 observations) on 1,967 variables.

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