Beneficiaries were randomly selected to be offered the opportunity to participate in BOND. Among those offered the opportunity, participation in BOND is voluntary. Some eligible beneficiaries (those receiving a letter with a red stripe at the top) were randomly chosen to have immediate access to BOND benefits. Other beneficiaries (those receiving a letter with a blue stripe at the top) were invited to volunteer for BOND, and volunteers were assigned by lottery to one of three groups. Not all volunteers were selected to be able to use the new BOND benefits. But every volunteer had the same chance of being selected. The opportunity to volunteer for BOND ended in September 2012.
BOND involves two different research samples being used to answer two distinct but related questions. One sample is drawn from the entire eligible SSDI beneficiary population. (In BOND, the sample is limited to beneficiaries who live in the 10 BOND sites and are between the ages of 20 and 59 as of April 1, 2018. They also cannot have been part of a previous SSA demonstration program. The other sample is of volunteers in that same population who are interested in working (in BOND, this means eligible beneficiaries who volunteer for the demonstration).
Because two samples are needed for the research, random assignment takes place in two steps or stages. The first stage—done from SSA administrative records and not requiring any prior contact with the beneficiary—leads to formation of a treatment group, a current law (control) group, and the pool of potential volunteers for Stage 2. Outreach and recruitment efforts are directed to the beneficiaries in the Stage 2 pool. Those who volunteer for Stage 2 are randomly assigned to one of three groups: a group that is offered the offset plus benefits counseling; a group that is offered the offset plus more intensive benefits counseling; or a group subject to regular SSDI rules and services.