Assessing the New Federalism is a multiyear Urban Institute project designed to analyze the devolution of responsibility for social programs from the federal government to the states, focusing primarily on health care, income security, employment and training programs, and social services. The project aims to provide timely, nonpartisan information to inform public debate and to help state and local decisionmakers carry out their new responsibilities more effectively.
This report describes 15 major public programs serving low-income, non-elderly adults with disabilities. The authors conclude that the safety net for low-income adults with disabilities is more like a tangled web of conflicting goals and gaps in needed services. Opportunities for temporary cash, training, and rehabilitation support are especially limited for disabled adults with limited work histories and/or who experienced their disability outside of work. SSI, a permanent cash benefit program that could likely lead to a lifetime of program participation, is the primary option for these adults. The authors discuss promising policy options that take a more coordinated approach in serving the complex needs of adults with disabilities.