Transition Works aimed to empower youth receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and maximize their economic self-sufficiency through a series of self-determination workshops, education and employment services, case management, financial incentives, work-based experience, and job development.
Transition Works participants completed an initial assessment and then participated in two self-determination workshops in which they set goals and began to plan for their transition into employment. Participants and their families could also take voluntary classes that provided information and assistance with assembling the necessary documents to receive benefits and complete the transition to work. After participants completed the self-determination workshops, made a transition plan, and finished benefits planning, they began employment services such as career preparation, soft-skills training, job search assistance, job development and placement, job coaching, job tours, apprenticeships, internships, and paid employment.
Although the core focus of Transition Works was employment, participants could also enroll in education services to support their future employment transition, such as GED preparation, assistance with secondary or vocational school enrollment, and school retention support. Participants also had access to benefits such as housing subsidies, tax credits, transportation and child care assistance, transitional health care through Medicaid, financial education, and case management throughout the course of the program. Participants also had individual development accounts, which allowed them to accrue wages from work and average matching contributions of $1 from Transition Works for every dollar earned in wages to achieve future financial goals without reducing their disability benefit. Finally, participants received job coaching and counseling from job developers as needed after securing paid employment.
Participants could use Transition Works services for up to 18 months until they secured employment. The Transition Works’ target population was youth ages 16 to 25 receiving SSA disability benefits. Transition Works was implemented in Erie County, NY. The evaluation of Transition Works also studied Broadened Horizons, Brighter Futures, which is another intervention aimed at improving self-sufficiency among youth who received SSA disability benefits.