Opportunities for Early Intervention to Avoid Prolonged Work Disability: Introduction to the Special Section

Abstract

Purpose The articles in this special section examine opportunities for early intervention that is intended to retain the jobs of workers who have medical conditions that could put them at risk of prolonged work disability. Methods The first three articles examine options for analyzing various types of disability claims data for targeting early intervention; the fourth article provides new information from 50 case studies on how employers decide to invest in the retention of individual workers. Results Together, the four articles demonstrate that there may be an opportunity to positively affect longer-term outcomes for workers with medical conditions. This would be accomplished by building and expanding on existing systems in order to efficiently identify, and provide timely support to, workers with medical conditions in a critical period during which the decisions and actions of various stakeholders, including the workers themselves, may have a major influence on these outcomes. Conclusions Forthcoming opportunities to develop, implement, and test evidence-based interventions to promote job retention can provide further insight into the value of the options described in the articles.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    SSDI provides partial wage replacement to adult workers after the onset of a qualifying, long-term disability. To qualify for disabled worker SSDI benefits, an individual must have achieved “disability insured” status by accumulating a sufficient recent work history. In addition, he or she must have a medically determinable impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death and prevents a worker from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). In 2018, SSA considered SGA to be the equivalent of the work required to have unsubsidized earnings above $1180 per month for non-blind applicants and $1970 for blind applicants.

  2. 2.

    Five states have mandatory short-term disability insurance benefits. Three of them (California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) provide insurance to most workers via public funds. The other two (Hawaii and New York) require employers to provide short-term disability benefits through self-insurance or a licensed carrier.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank David Stapleton for providing helpful comments on an early draft. Funding for this manuscript was provided by the Research and Training Center on Employment Policy and Measurement at the University of New Hampshire, which is funded by the National Institute for Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, in the Administration for Community Living, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under cooperative agreement 9ORT5037-02-00. The contents do not necessarily represent the policy of DHHS and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government (EDGAR, 75.620 (b)).

Funding

This study was funded by the National Institute for Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, in the Administration for Community Living, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Cooperative Agreement 9ORT5037-02-00).

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Correspondence to Yonatan Ben-Shalom.

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Yonatan Ben-Shalom and Jody Schimmel Hyde declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Ben-Shalom, Y., Schimmel Hyde, J. Opportunities for Early Intervention to Avoid Prolonged Work Disability: Introduction to the Special Section. J Occup Rehabil 28, 569–573 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-018-9813-7

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Keywords

  • Disability
  • Onset
  • Early intervention
  • Job retention