In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we are highlighting studies on workforce engagement for people with disabilities. These Workforce System Strategies resources reveal that American Job Centers are vital for people with disabilities and that disability insurance beneficiaries’ age and type of disability affect their return-to-work outcomes. Read the following resources to learn how our system can improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

Return-to-Work Outcomes Among Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) Program Beneficiaries: Final Report
national, longitudinal study of working-age, unemployed individuals receiving DI benefits pinpoints the key beneficiary characteristics and economic factors that support re-employment. Researchers followed a sample of DI beneficiaries for five years to measure achievement of four return-to-work milestones: first enrollment for employment services provided by a state vocational rehabilitation agency or employment network, start of trial work period (TWP), completion of TWP, and suspension or termination of benefits because of work. Using descriptive analyses and linear probability models, the authors found that DI recipients under age 40 and beneficiaries with sensory impairments living in states with low unemployment had the highest likelihood of achieving re-employment milestones. Conversely, the probability of achieving milestones decreases when DI benefits are higher at the time of award and when beneficiaries’ have back or other musculoskeletal disorders. The findings also suggest that return-to-work efforts should focus on recent and younger DI beneficiaries. Early intervention efforts to keep younger people with sensory impairments in the workforce are also indicated.

Use of One-Stops by Social Security Disability Beneficiaries in Four States Implementing Disability Program Navigator (DPN) Initiative
This resource discusses the DPN initiative’s effectiveness and reveals new information about the use of One-Stop Centers by working-age Social Security Administration (SSA) beneficiaries with disabilities. Researchers matched state workforce program data with SSA administrative records to determine the extent of beneficiaries’ use of public workforce development services, employment outcomes, and whether use and effects differed over time. The study found that SSA beneficiaries with disabilities accessed workforce program services more than all SSA beneficiaries without disabilities, indicating that the public workforce system is a crucial resource for SSA beneficiaries with disabilities. The study also found that the SSA beneficiaries with disabilities who gained employment after accessing workforce services had substantial earnings increases and left SSA cash benefits at higher rates than other job-seeking beneficiaries.