BHBF aimed to improve economic self-sufficiency among youth receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) through person-centered planning (PCP), employment and education services, case management, financial work incentives, work-based experience, and job development.
BHBF was based on the framework developed for the Youth Transition Demonstration funded by the SSA, which focused on making youth with disabilities as economically self-sufficient as possible during their transition to adulthood. BHBF participants met regularly with the community employment development specialists (CEDS), who helped develop and oversee a PCP process, consisting of exercises that helped participants identify their goals in education, employment, and independent living as well as the development of an individualized plan for employment. 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 BHBF waivers to SSA program rules. 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 education and soft-skills training 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 the life of the program. 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 who received 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.