1
Introduction

This report reviews the scope of work for a contract to be issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to conduct a Disability Evaluation Study (DES). This is the first in a series of short interim reports by the Committee to Review the SSA's Disability Decision Process Research.1 This interim report is limited to a preliminary examination of the general features of the proposed survey design, data collection plans, coverage, and sampling as described in the draft scope of work dated July 30, 1996 (SSA, 1996b), submitted to the committee by SSA, as well as subsequent related discussions with, and clarifications by, SSA staff in response to inquiries. The committee has made no attempt to comment on the content of the questionnaires, specific measures of functional capability, or the content of the medical examinations and medical and diagnostic tests proposed for the DES.

This review is based on the draft scope of work, the protocol for the study developed by Westat, Inc., under contract with SSA, as well as on other relevant internal documents prepared by SSA in response to the committee's requests for information. SSA staff also made presentations on work done to date on the project, the information goals and objectives of the DES, and on SSA's plans to integrate a redesign of the disability decision process effort and the DES. The committee plans to review and comment further on the final survey—its design, approach, content, and plans for analysis as proposed by the survey contractor—and perhaps again later on once the survey is conducted and data become available. SSA, however, must make some important decisions now about the survey design and other basic features before it can issue a request for proposals (RFP) for the survey. The committee, therefore, believes that a timely, but preliminary, assessment of the draft scope of work for the survey contract and recommendations for changes in several basic aspects of it are appropriate and needed.

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The committee conducted much of the work on this report through a subcommittee composed of William Kalsbeek Chair, Ronald Brookmeyer, Gerben DeJong, Robert Groves, and Catharine Maslow. It was reviewed by the full committee, and subsequent revisions were made in response to comments from committee members. Thus, the report reflects the collective thinking of the committee on the issues addressed.



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1 Introduction This report reviews the scope of work for a contract to be issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to conduct a Disability Evaluation Study (DES). This is the first in a series of short interim reports by the Committee to Review the SSA's Disability Decision Process Research.1 This interim report is limited to a preliminary examination of the general features of the proposed survey design, data collection plans, coverage, and sampling as described in the draft scope of work dated July 30, 1996 (SSA, 1996b), submitted to the committee by SSA, as well as subsequent related discussions with, and clarifications by, SSA staff in response to inquiries. The committee has made no attempt to comment on the content of the questionnaires, specific measures of functional capability, or the content of the medical examinations and medical and diagnostic tests proposed for the DES. This review is based on the draft scope of work, the protocol for the study developed by Westat, Inc., under contract with SSA, as well as on other relevant internal documents prepared by SSA in response to the committee's requests for information. SSA staff also made presentations on work done to date on the project, the information goals and objectives of the DES, and on SSA's plans to integrate a redesign of the disability decision process effort and the DES. The committee plans to review and comment further on the final survey—its design, approach, content, and plans for analysis as proposed by the survey contractor—and perhaps again later on once the survey is conducted and data become available. SSA, however, must make some important decisions now about the survey design and other basic features before it can issue a request for proposals (RFP) for the survey. The committee, therefore, believes that a timely, but preliminary, assessment of the draft scope of work for the survey contract and recommendations for changes in several basic aspects of it are appropriate and needed. 1   The committee conducted much of the work on this report through a subcommittee composed of William Kalsbeek Chair, Ronald Brookmeyer, Gerben DeJong, Robert Groves, and Catharine Maslow. It was reviewed by the full committee, and subsequent revisions were made in response to comments from committee members. Thus, the report reflects the collective thinking of the committee on the issues addressed.