Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Policy and Management (PPM)


Public Policy and Management

First Advisor

Dr. Josie LaPlante, Ph.D.


Social Security Administration, disabilty and social security benefits, Muskie School of Public Service, USM Aging Initiative, Health and Wellness, Policy


One in five Americans has a disability, making it the largest minority group in the U.S. (Soffer, McDonald, & Blanck, 2010). In 2011, 13.4 million working-aged adults received a disability cash benefit from the Social Security Administration (Kregel, 2012).

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the federal agency responsible for managing, executing and overseeing retirement, survivor, old-age and disability benefits. There are over 1,500 Social Security offices and over 65,000 employees nationwide (SSA, 2013). SSA manages at least five disability benefit programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Disabled Widow(er) Benefit (DWB), Childhood Disability Benefit (CDB), though the vast majority of SSA staff time is spent managing the retirement benefit system.