BHBF sought to improve economic self-sufficiency among youth who were receivinged Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits through person-centered planning, employment and education services, case management, financial work incentives, work-based experience, and job development.
After an initial assessment, BHBF participants met with a community employment development specialist (CEDS) to set employment goals and plan for the education necessary to achieve these goals. Participants also worked with a benefit specialist who guided them through the supportive services they could access by referral (for example, housing subsidies, tax credits, transportation and child care assistance, and transitional health care through Medicaid) as well as the waivers to SSA program rules provided by BHBF. BHBF included waivers to SSA program rules that increased the amount of earnings disregarded when calculating benefits; decreased the rate benefits were reduced as earnings increased; extended benefits for those in danger of losing them at age 18 or when their case was re-reviewed; and excluded certain financial accounts from asset calculations. Participants next moved into career preparation activities that consisted of resume writing, mock interviews, communication courses, and job fairs. After these career preparation services, BHBF provided work-based experience, such as paid and unpaid on-the-job training and job development, under the supervision of the CEDS. Participants also took part in financial literacy and life-skills courses and received case management throughout the program. Participants were eligible to receive matching funds in individual development accounts (IDAs) to save for expenses related to getting an education, starting a business, and purchasing or repairing a car or home.
Participants could use BHBF services for up to 18 months. Participants received follow-up services for several weeks on average after securing paid employment. Matching funds in IDAs were available for up to two years, and the waivers to SSA program rules were available for up to four years. Youth between the ages of 16 and 22 receiving SSA disability benefits were eligible for BHBF. BHBF was implemented in Miami-Dade County, FL. The evaluation of BHBF also studied Transition Works, another intervention aimed at improving self-sufficiency among youth who received SSA disability benefits.