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Stream One: Employment Re-engagement

Millions of individuals with disabilities become dislocated from work due to increasing severity of disability and/or new medical conditions. As a result this group of individuals become connected to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as both an income support and a source of other critical public benefits such as health care. In challenging economic times, they are also more likely than people without disabilities to be laid off and receive Unemployment Insurance. But they often have the potential to make a successful return to the workforce. The three research studies in this area examine the enhancement of opportunities for this return, examining and extending: (1) policies that promote a successful return to work from SSDI, including the impact of the Affordable Care Act, state investments in home-and community-based services, changes in state vocational rehabilitation policies, and the 1619(b) work incentive program; (2) policies to improve benefits counseling integrated with coaching that are predicted to significantly promote a return to work from SSDI; and (3) policies to enhance temporary increases in Unemployment Insurance resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly examination of the important role that Unemployment Insurance can have in helping people with disabilities sustain income and be able to return to employment.