Disability Research Publications

The DIEP-RRTC features working papers, employment policy briefs, newsletters, academic articles, presentations, online and in-person training, and technical assistance support for policymakers, business leaders, vocational rehabilitation and employment support professionals, and people with disabilities.

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Current DIEP RRTC Publications

The publications have been developed by the DIEP RRTC staff and partners on various research and topic areas for policymakers, business leaders, vocational rehabilitation and employment support professionals, and people with disabilities.

Nanette Goodman, Nick Canfield and Michael Morris
The Build Back Better Act (H.R 5376) includes $5 billion to create and expand apprenticeship programs. This historic investment comes on the heels of over $950 million of federal grants targeted for this purpose in the last five years and a growing commitment among federal agencies, state governments, local policy makers, and employers to expand apprenticeship opportunities.
Peter Blanck
This special section of the Journal of Cancer Survivorship examines disability-inclusive employment policy and practice, cancer survivorship, and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") of 1990. It considers current issues in research, policy, practice, and law in the United States, including new questions arising in light of COVID-19, such as the nature of disability disclosure, workplace accommodations and remote work, emerging workplace health surveillance technologies, and inclusive employment practices for cancer survivors. It also presents, for comparative purposes, a current analysis of cancer-related disability discrimination in the media in the United States and Israel.
Fitore Hyseni, Arzana Myderrizi, Peter Blanck
Given the training and experience of lawyers, we assumed that a study of lawyers’ willingness to disclose disability in the workplace would provide an example of the actions of a group knowledgeable about disability law. The current study accounts for the effect of visibility of disability, onset and type of disability, and whether the lawyer has made an accommodation request. We also investigate the role of other individual characteristics, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, race/ethnicity, age, and job-related characteristics, in willingness to disclose.
Douglas Kruse, So Ri Park, Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, Lisa Schur
This article examines the extent to which employees worked from home because of the pandemic, focusing on differentials between people with and without disabilities with implications for cancer survivors. We use data on COVID-19 from the Current Population Survey over the May 2020 to June 2021 period. We present descriptive statistics and the results from regression and decomposition analysis. We found that while workers with disabilities were more likely than those without disabilities to be teleworking before the pandemic, they were less likely to be teleworking as a result of the pandemic. Differences in the occupational distribution account for most of this difference. People with disabilities experienced relatively more pandemic-related hardships as well, compared to people without disabilities, including a greater chance of not being able to work due to their employer losing business and more difficulty in accessing medical care.
Paul Harpur, Fitore Hyseni, Peter Blanck
This article examines ways COVID-19 health surveillance and algorithmic decision-making ("ADM") are creating and exacerbating workplace inequalities that impact post-treatment cancer survivors. Cancer survivors' ability to exercise their right to work often is limited by prejudice and health concerns. While cancer survivors can ostensibly elect not to disclose to their employers when they are receiving treatments or if they have a history of treatment, the use of ADM increases the chances that employers will learn of their situation regardless of their preferences.
Nicole Maestas, Kathleen J. Mullen, and Alexander Strand
We examine the effect of cyclical job displacement during the Great Recession on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Exploiting variation in the severity and timing of the recession across states, we estimate the effect of unemployment on SSDI applications and awards. Our estimates imply the Great Recession increased claims processing costs by $2.960 billion during 2008-2012, and SSDI benefit obligations by $55.730 billion in present value, or $97.365 billion including both SSDI and Medicare benefits.
Nicole A. Maestas, Kathleen J. Mullen, and Stephanie Rennane
Labor force exit due to disability is often preceded by a gradual decline in health. Frequent or increased rates of absence from work or presenteeism (working while sick) could serve as a signal that a worker has begun transitioning out of the labor force. We analyze the relationship between absences, presenteeism and work outcomes using data from the American Working Conditions Survey and the American Life Panel.
Peter Blanck
Blanck discusses his thirty-year journey with the ADA. Blanck emphasizes, his journey "is intertwined, as it is for many, with personal and professional experiences. One foundational aspect of this journey has been how law students like you here today, and practicing lawyers with disabilities, have inspired me as they have sought to vindicate their ADA rights. Many of the cases in which I have acted as an expert on the ADA, or as co-counsel, were piloted by leading lawyers, many of whom happened to have disabilities. Some of them are no longer with us today.
Michael Morris and Nanette Goodman
President Biden’s executive order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities (E.O. 13985) makes it clear that the federal government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who “have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”
Peter Blanck
At the heart of disability antidiscrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) of 1990, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“CRPD”), and the laws of other countries, lies the requirement that social institutions affirmatively remove attitudinal and structural barriers confronting people with disabilities as they exercise their rights to particulate fully in society. In disability employment antidiscrimination law and policy, perhaps the most important driver of the inclusion command is the “accommodation principle,” which requires that employers make reasonable adjustments to tasks and places of work to enable full and equal participation by qualified individuals with disabilities.
Lisa Schur, Mason Ameri, and Douglas Kruse
The COVID pandemic was a severe blow to all workers, but it may ultimately have a silver lining for some workers with disabilities if it makes work from home easier and more acceptable. In addition, the pandemic is shaking up traditional workplace structures and causing employers to rethink how essential tasks can be done, which may broaden their views of workplace accommodations. We assess the potential for the pandemic to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Paul Harpur and Peter Blanck
This article examines gig work—typified by technologically-based, on-demand, independent contractor arrangements—for people with disabilities.
Nicole A. Maestas
In their PNAS article “Decoding the mystery of American pain reveals a warning for the future,” Case et al. investigate an irregular feature of the relationship between pain and age in present-day America—midlife individuals report higher levels of pain than do the elderly. Ominously, this inverted age–pain profile exists only for individuals without a bachelor’s degree (BA) and in no wealthy country other than America.
Mason Ameri, Sean Rogers, Lisa Schur, and Douglas Kruse
We investigate access for people with disabilities to Airbnb rentals using a randomized field experiment of 3,847 lodging requests. We find that hosts were less likely to preapprove requests from travelers with blindness, cerebral palsy, dwarfism, or spinal cord injury than to approve travelers without disabilities.
American Association of People with Disabilities & Disability:IN
The Disability Equality Index (DEI) is a prominent benchmarking tool for the Fortune 1000 and America’s top 200 revenue grossing law firms (Am Law 200) to gauge their level of disability workplace inclusion against competitors.
Nanette Goodman and Michael Morris
The report finds that, in the 29 years since the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, ensuring all individuals with disabilities the opportunity to achieve “economic self-sufficiency,” this population still faces numerous financial hurdles and roadblocks to financial inclusion. Based on data mined from the 2017 FDIC National Survey on Unbanked and Underbanked Households, this insightful report highlights the financial choices and banking habits of adults with disabilities.
Douglas Kruse, Lisa Schur, Sean Rogers, and Mason Ameri
We analyze competing explanations for the lower pay of employees with disabilities, using 2008–2014 data from the American Community Survey matched to O*Net data on occupational job requirements.
Nanette Goodman, Nick Canfield, and Michael Morris
Americans with disabilities face significant barriers to financial wellness. They are less likely than those without disabilities to be employed, and more likely to have low incomes, have difficulty making ends meet, have past due medical bills, lack access to emergency funds, use non-bank borrowing methods and have a lower level of financial knowledge. These findings—described in detail in Financial Capability of Adults with Disabilities, a 2017 report by National Disability Institute (NDI) based on the FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s National Financial Capability Study—identify challenges to financial well-being for people with disabilities that go above and beyond the challenges faced by others with similar incomes.
Nanette Goodman, Bonnie O’Day, and Michael Morris
This report analyzes data from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation’s National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) to reveal the most comprehensive picture to date of how people with disabilities manage financial resources and make financial decisions.

Articles of Interest

The articles of interest have been identified by the DIEP RRTC staff and partners as important information on employment topic areas for policymakers, business leaders, vocational rehabilitation and employment support professionals, and people with disabilities.

Report prepared by MissionSquare Research Institute
This report presents the results of a November/December 2021 national online survey conducted by MissionSquare Research Institute and Greenwald Research of 1,100 state and local government employees, assessing their views on COVID-19’s impact on their job and financial outlook, general concerns about COVID-19 and morale, and general satisfaction with their employer and retention issues.
Office of Disability Employment Policy
This brief analyzes trends in key labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey (CPS) by disability status through December 2021. 2 Employment trends are also examined across broad categories of industry and occupation, since the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has varied considerably across these categories. Primary reasons for this variance are the relative ease of social distancing in an occupation, given the necessary physical proximity between workers (or between workers and customers), referred to as “contact intensity,” and the extent to which jobs are suited for telework. Two independent research papers are used to define contact intensity and ability to telework by occupation, which allows observation of employment trends by disability status and by occupational categories classified according to contact intensity and the ability to telework.
National Governor's Association
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected many who have historically faced significant barriers to employment, including people with disabilities, compounding the economic hardships many with disabilities faced before the pandemic. Traditionally, people with disabilities face persistently lower rates of employment and earn significantly lower wages compared to their peers without disabilities.
Marjorie L. Baldwin
This Open Forum describes a framework for analyzing factors that influence an individual’s decision to disclose serious mental illness in the competitive workplace. The disclosure decision is multifaceted, organized in dimensions of control, conditions, and costs.
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