DI 60075.025 Promoting Opportunity Demonstration (POD) Contractors and Job Titles
In order to administer POD efficiently, SSA contracted with Mathematica Policy Research (MPR) and Abt Associates (Abt) to design and implement the POD. Abt contracts and hires staff to assist with the implementation of the POD. This section describes the roles MPR and Abt personnel play in the POD.
A. Mathematica Policy Research
Mathematica Policy Research (MPR) supports SSA with recruiting beneficiaries to participate in the POD and evaluating the demonstration. MPR’s activities include:
delivering informational webinars about the POD to potential stakeholders (e.g., Work Incentives Planning and Assistance agencies (WIPAs), employment networks (ENs), and advocacy organizations);
recruiting SSDI beneficiaries through direct mailings and stakeholder referrals;
surveying enrolled beneficiaries;
conducting in-person and virtual site visits to POD sites operated by Abt, and;
analyzing qualitative and quantitative data to support the evaluation of the POD. MPR also operates an informational website for POD (www.podssa.org), which launches December 2017.
Three surveys will support the evaluation of the POD:
The baseline survey will operate from January 2018 through December 2018.
The Year 1 follow-up survey will operate from November 2018 through March 2020.
The Year 2 follow-up survey will operate from November 2019 through March 2021.
2. POD Survey Operations Center (SOC)
MPR’s SOC will manage beneficiary recruitment and all survey activities. The SOC is located in Princeton, NJ and will operate during the following hours (Eastern Time):
9:00 am to 12:00 am, Monday through Thursday
9:00 am to 10:00 pm on Friday
9:00 am to 8:00 pm on Saturday
11:00 am to 9:00 pm on Sunday
Some components of the SOC, most notably the specialized MPR staff who will respond to select inquiries about the POD through the toll-free number, will work more limited hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern Time).
The SOC’s primary functions are the following:
Support the POD Call Center, which operates jointly with Abt (see below for phone number and more details) and answers general questions about the POD, as well as specific questions about the consent form, surveys, and respondent payments;
Send recruitment packets and consent forms to eligible SSDI beneficiaries and follow-up surveys to enrolled beneficiaries;
Send blank recruitment packets to stakeholders (e.g., WIPAs and ENs) who participate in the informational webinars and wish to support POD recruitment by referring potentially eligible beneficiaries;
Receive, process, and collect data from returned enrollment forms and surveys, including making follow-up calls, as appropriate, to obtain complete information;
Make reminder calls to select beneficiaries to encourage them to complete and return enrollment forms or surveys, or both; and
Provide telephone support to individuals who wish to complete their surveys by phone or who need assistance reading recruitment materials and consent forms.
B. Abt Associates (Abt)
Abt’s role in the POD begins after a beneficiary is assigned to a treatment group. Abt helps newly assigned participants adjust to new POD rules. They also assign participants a POD work incentive counselor (WIC) who will support participants throughout their POD participation period.
1. Direct Support Units
The POD Call Center (888-771-9188) and POD Processing Center are both located in McAllen, Texas. They operate from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday, in all time zones in which the POD sites operate. The Call Center’s primary functions are to:
Answer general questions about the POD and specific questions about participating in the demonstration;
Answer questions about POD letters and mailings and phone calls made by POD project staff;
Provide general support and answer questions about SSA notices;
Call beneficiaries whose earnings exceeded the POD threshold in the prior month to remind them to submit documentation of earnings and any impairment related work expenses (IRWE) exceeding the POD threshold for the current reporting month;
Connect beneficiaries with their POD WIC;
Answer questions about the evaluation of the POD; and
Call POD treatment group members to remind them to report their monthly earnings information and supply any missing documentation to support the end-of-year reconciliation process.
2. Indirect Support Units
a. POD Central Operations
POD Central Operations staff are responsible for the following:
Facilitating the work of POD work incentive counselors (WIC) and the support units;
Managing all mailings sent to treatment subjects;
Handling ad-hoc and time-sensitive mailings; and
Providing POD counselors with supplies, including FEDEX Airbills and postage-paid business reply envelopes (BREs).
b. POD Processing Center
POD Processing Center staff are responsible for the following:
Receiving, scanning, and updating all earnings and IRWE documentation submitted monthly;
Processing any documentation participants were asked to submit in preparation for the annual end-of-year reconciliation (EOYR);
Entering information into an earnings record created in IDS; and
Returning any original documents to the participants.
c. POD Earnings Support
POD Earnings Support staff are responsible for the following:
C. POD Work Incentive Counselor (WIC)
POD WICs provide counseling services for POD participants assigned to either treatment group 1 or 2 (5,000 individuals per group), which are the participants eligible for the $1 for $2 offset. These services are similar to those that beneficiaries currently receive from WIPAs.
POD WICs are responsible for the following actions:
Preparing SSDI treatment-group beneficiaries for POD participation;
Delivering work incentives counseling services;
Assisting participants to report monthly earnings and IRWE;
Explaining SSA notices and assisting with appeal and waiver requests on SSA decisions; and
Preparing participants to convert to regular SSDI rules when POD participation ends.