TN 5 (09-16)
DI 60099.005 Overview of the Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) Project
A. Background on the BOND project
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is conducting the Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) under the demonstration authority in Section 234 of the Social Security Act.
Congress asked SSA to examine ways to improve the Social Security disability program and its administration. SSA is conducting the BOND project to see if modifying our rules helps beneficiaries in their efforts to return to work.
BOND tests modifications to current program rules that apply only to participating beneficiaries who work and may receive either Title II or concurrent Title II and Title XVI benefits based on disability or blindness.
B. Current rules on Title II programs
Under current Title II program rules, disability beneficiaries who complete their trial work period (TWP) and subsequently engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) have their benefits suspended after a three-month grace period.
1. BOND rules
Beneficiaries in BOND, however, do not lose their benefits at this point. Their benefits are reduced $1 for every $2 earned above the BOND yearly amount. In 2016, the yearly amount is $13,560 for a beneficiary who is not blind or $21,840 for a blind beneficiary.
The prior yearly amounts in this chart:
Non-blind Yearly Amount
Blind Yearly Amount
C. Purpose of BOND
The purpose of BOND is to test whether gradually reducing benefits by $1 for each $2 of earnings made over the BOND yearly amount leads to increased earnings and employment for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries. In addition, we offer enhanced benefits counseling to certain BOND participants in a specific treatment group. The BOND evaluation estimates the impact of reducing benefits and the effects that counseling on work activity and earnings have on BOND participants.
D. Eligibility for BOND
The Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support (ORDES) provided a list of one million beneficiaries to Abt Associates (Abt), the contractor tasked with designing and implementing BOND based on the requirements outlined in DI 60099.010.
E. Initial field office (FO), payment centers (PSCs) and 800 Number Network (N8NN) BOND responsibilities
FOs, PSCs and N8NN sites did not have any role in selecting project participants or in implementing BOND. Abt recruited and enrolled participants randomly. Enrollment occurred between January 2011 and September 2012. If a caller contacts the FO or the N8NN sites with questions pertaining to the legitimacy of BOND, follow the instructions in DI 60099.030.
F. Implementation responsibilities for FO, PSCs and N8NN
1. Abt Associates (Abt)
To minimize the impact BOND has on agency resources, SSA contracted with Abt to design and implement BOND. Abt has a national call center. They designed the BOND Operations Data System (BODS) that sends data to SSA via the BOND stand-alone system (BSAS). They recruited and enrolled Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries for the project.
As the implementation contractor, Abt’s staff is responsible for:
assisting BOND participants with obtaining proof of income, impairment-related work expenses (IRWE), subsidy, un-incurred business expenses, or special conditions;
issuing receipts to BOND participants for each work estimate received;
assisting with notice explanation or clarification; and
assisting with waiver, reconsideration, and hearing requests for BOND overpayments.
2. BOND work continuing disability review (CDR) unit (L5R)
The Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support (ORDES) established a centralized unit in the Office of Program Development (OPD) to process the work CDRs for BOND participants. ORDES established a special unit to handle the work CDRs and issue specialized notices for BOND participants because the work CDRs need special processing to protect the eligibility months of the beneficiary for the BOND offset rules. The CDR unit is also responsible to code the Disability Control File (DCF) and update the BOND computer systems for beneficiaries who are eligible to receive the $1 for $2 offset.
The mailing address for ORDES is:
Social Security Administration
Bond Project ORDP/ORDES/OPD 3-D-25B OPR
6401 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, Maryland 21235
The BOND Fax number in ORDES is (410) 597-0149.
Please use the BOND fax number if you need to resolve a problem that you cannot handle under normal procedures.
The BOND office code is L5R. To transfer a case in eWork to L5R, see instructions in DI 60099.030D.
Always fax documentation into NDRED or eView. Send an MDW to L5R when the case is a high priority. Do not fax information to L5R if you take the actions described DI 60099.005H.2.
For more information on the BOND work CDR unit responsibilities, see DI 60099.045.
3. BOND Stand-Alone System (BSAS)
The BSAS maintains a list of the names and Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of all treatment group beneficiaries randomly assigned to the BOND project. These beneficiaries are eligible to receive the $1 for $2 offset. In addition, the BSAS accepts a nightly file from Abt’s processing system (BODS) that contains earnings estimates for the beneficiaries who are eligible for the $1 for $2 offset. The BSAS processes the earnings estimate and automatically creates a MACADE action to adjust the monthly benefit and generate a notice to the beneficiary.
If the BSAS cannot generate the Manual Adjustment Credit and Award Data Entry (MACADE) action, a Manual Adjustment, Credit and Award Processing (MADCAP exception, or processing limitation results, L5R or Office of Central Operations (OCO) receives and develops the edit to completion and updates the BSAS with the corrected information.
If a MADCAP exception results from the MACADE action, OCO resolves the exception and updates the BSAS with the corrected information. OCO established this centralized unit to work the processing limitations generated when BSAS cannot automate the MACADE action, and works MADCAP exceptions because L5R does not have access to paperless processing. If an FO encounters an unworked case , send an MDW to L5R.
G. BOND notices sent to BOND beneficiaries
1. Abt’s letters
Beginning April 2011, Abt sent out initial letters informing stage 1 beneficiaries that they were selected to participate in BOND. Abt completed the stage 1 mailings in August 2011. Abt began follow up outreach in April 2013 for stage 1 beneficiaries in the treatment group that had not been in contact with the project following the initial letters.
Abt began sending letters soliciting possible stage 2 volunteers in January 2011. The solicitation process ended in September 2012, when Abt obtained 12,600 volunteers for stage 2.
Working from SSA’s list of SSDI and concurrent beneficiaries residing in the demonstration project area (http://www.bondssa.org/index.php ), Abt sent letters to potential BOND participants who were randomly assigned to stage 1 or stage 2 (see DI 60099.010A).
The initial notices from Abt are not stored in the Online Retrieval System (ORS). We do not have copies of initial notices from Abt.
2. SSA notices for BOND participant or beneficiary
A technician in L5R generates the following notices to a BOND participant or beneficiary:
start and end date of participation notice provided, after random assignment, an overview of BOND to explain the participation period;
work CDR continuance, trial work period, expedited reinstatement (EXR), SGA due process, reopening, reconsideration, and final SGA determination notices to participants or beneficiaries assigned to a treatment group;
BOND offset notice explaining initial offset and revised earnings estimates;
benefit rate increase (BRI) adjustment notice with the corrected BRI calculation for participants or beneficiaries BOND who receive reduced payment amounts due to the BOND offset;
end of year reconciliation (EOYR) determination notice compares reported estimated earnings with actual earnings;
appeal notice - provides a reconsideration determination for participants or beneficiaries who want to appeal the EOYR determination notice;
end date of BOND Participation notice explains when BOND participation ends; and
auxiliary notice explains when we are unable to make payments, or to explain reinstatement of benefits.
NOTE: ORS stores all SSA notices, except the start and end date of participation notices.