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.

Jennifer Cohen and Yana van der Meulen Rodgers
This paper examines the prevalence of long COVID across different demographic groups in the US and the extent to which workers with impairments associated with long COVID have engaged in pandemic-related remote work
Mason Ameri and Terri Kurtzberg
How can companies do a better job of attracting disabled people to apply for jobs and convincing them that they truly are an equitable employer? And how can job candidates feel more comfortable disclosing a need for accommodation? The authors’ research over the last five years offers a number of paths forward for both sides. First, employers can move away from legalistic boilerplates and use more heartfelt language about their commitment to DEI. But they also need to back up their words with concrete evidence, such as a personal message from the CEO; testimonials from disabled employees; statistics on the hiring, promotion, accommodation fulfillment, and retention of disabled employees; or awards recognizing the company’s accomplishments in the DEI space. Their research also suggests job candidates emphasize their hard skills during interviews and delay the conversation about accommodations until they’ve built up more of a rapport with the hiring team.
Nanette Goodman, Fatma Altunkol Wise, Fitore Hyseni, Lauren Gilbert, and Peter Blanck
Since the 1960s, federal and state governments and private-sector companies have used supplier diversity initiatives to ensure their supply chains include businesses owned by traditionally economically disadvantaged or underrepresented groups. Originally concentrated on racial and ethnic minority groups, programs have expanded to include businesses owned by women, veterans, LGBTQ+ individuals, and, in some cases, people with disabilities. This study investigates the extent to which disability is included in supplier diversity initiatives of Fortune 500 companies.
Fitore Hyseni, Nanette Goodman, and Peter Blanck
This study investigates who requests workplace accommodations and who is more likely to have requests granted. We investigate the role of demographic characteristics and their intersection, including disability, gender, race/ethnicity, and age. We also consider the role of other personal and job-related factors.
Renée Edwards, Samantha Deane, Abigail Clemson
While mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is now clearly becoming a priority for employers, the level of resources and tools needed have not been easily found nor available. Every year, NOD fields more and more questions from employers wondering what they can do to specifically help address mental health and wellbeing for their employees. Clearly, industry is struggling to find solutions to this growing workplace crisis. That is why NOD teamed up with Rutgers University in 2023 to write this brief about efforts by one large professional services firm, Ernst & Young LLP (EY US), to change the landscape of wellbeing within its workplace culture. It examines relevant academic research and frames the firm’s efforts within research-identified effective practices and challenges.
Fitore Hyseni, Douglas Kruse, Lisa Schur, and Peter Blanck
Many workers with disabilities face cultures of exclusion in the workplace, which can affect their participation in decisions, workplace engagement, job attitudes and performance. The authors explore a key indicator of engagement—perceptions of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB)—as it relates to disability and other marginalized identities in the workplace.
Mason Ameri, Douglas Kruse, So Ri Park,Yana Rodgers, Lisa Schur
Many people with disabilities benefit from working at home, and the pandemic has increased employer acceptance of telework, but the current occupational distribution limits this potential. Tighter labor markets during the recovery offer hope that employers will increasingly hire people with disabilities in both telework and non-telework jobs.
Giuseppe Pagano, Nanette Goodman, and Pam Williamson
To investigate the impact of COVID-19 on disability employment, Ari Ne’eman and Nicole Maestas examined employment trends for people with and without disabilities over the course of the pandemic and during the economic recovery that followed using data from the Current Population Survey. To further unpack the issue, the authors examined these trends within particular types of occupations. They found that this employment growth was heavily concentrated in teleworkable, essential, and non-frontline occupations (which are overlapping categories), with the strongest gains in teleworkable occupations.
Peter Blanck, Fitore Hyseni, and Nanette Goodman
People with disabilities continue to face extreme disparities in economic inclusion. They have lower employment rates, earn significantly less, are more likely to engage in precarious work, report barriers to receiving workplace accommodations, avoid disclosure of invisible and stigmatized identities, and are more likely to report discrimination than their non-marginalized counterparts. These challenges are heightened by and interrelated with other inequalities that marginalized populations experience such as higher rates of poverty and lack of access to education, housing, transportation, medical care, banking, and food. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the employment disparities between people with and without disabilities and within the non-monolithic disability community. Many people with disabilities experienced job losses, lower earnings, and challenges getting access to adequate social support. This chapter discusses barriers to economic inclusion of people with disabilities. In particular, it focuses on employment and financial inclusion as two key markers of larger economic empowerment. In helping to illuminate the many complex issues faced in the employment of persons with disabilities, this chapter aims to identify new and promising means to address barriers faced by people with disabilities. With increased partnership and collaboration, with the disability community leading this effort, the public and private sectors must seek to address the employment of persons with disabilities, which affects millions in the United States and around the world.
Giuseppe Pagano, Nanette Goodman, and Pam Williamson.
For years, people with disabilities have advocated for remote work as a reasonable accommodation to address commuting barriers, home medical needs, environmental sensitivities, fatigue, and other employment barriers. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled that telework may be a form of reasonable accommodation under the ADA. However, employers have often denied telework accommodation requests, claiming that physical presence in the workplace is an essential part of the job.
Ari Ne'eman and Nicole Maestas
As the COVID-19 recession began in Q2 2020, people with disabilities experienced employment losses that were proportionately similar to those experienced by people without disabilities. However, during the subsequent economic recovery, the employment rate of people with disabilities has grown more quickly in Q4 2021 through Q2 2022, driven by increased labor force participation.
Douglas Kruse, Lisa Schur, Mason Ameri, and Lauren Gilbert
Initial research indicates that paid sick leave mandates are linked to higher employment and lower unemployment, with the greatest effects on people with disabilities
Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen
In this paper, we draw on prior research and recent federal statistics to discuss the unfolding effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SSDI program and its beneficiaries.
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.
Lisa Schur & Douglas L. Kruse
This chapter examines the prevalence, causes, and consequences of precarious work among people with disabilities. New US evidence from the government’s Current Population Survey, and reviews of prior studies, show that workers with disabilities are more likely than those without disabilities to be in precarious jobs.

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.

Congressional Research Service
This report provides an overview of the federal hiring authorities and processes that specifically pertain to persons with disabilities. It also examines available data and statistics of federal hiring of persons with disabilities over time and discusses potential options for congressional oversight and legislation. This report does not examine the process of requesting reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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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