Secretaries' Innovation Group

Conference Materials by Subject Matter

**To view power point presentations and supporting materials, click on underlined title.


Reducing the Negative Effects of Disability Benefits on Labor Force Participation - June 2018

  • Fundamentally, the disability program is projected to run out of funds because it has evolved away from its original design. The number of disabled beneficiaries has increased from around 1.5 million in 1970 to 8.8 million in 2016, driven by changing legal and societal standards.  Loosening criteria for assessing severity of pain as well as mental illness has increased eligibility. During periods of slow economic growth, applications for disability benefits surge, but they have not fallen back to earlier levels during subsequent expansions.   
  • State vocational programs have been largely left out of efforts to help keep workers inside the labor force.  Yet a seventeen year old program in NYC has been conducting independent medical assessments for TANF recipients who claim health issues and has redirected tens of thousands of recipients into jobs and vocational rehabilitation.  Separately, an innovative Workers’ Comp program operating in Washington State has significantly reduced claimants’ period out of work after a health shock.   

​         Helping People Facing Obstacles
​         Grant Collins, Senior Vice President, Fedcap
​         Opportunities for States to Help Workers with Medical Conditions Keep Their Jobs
​         Dave Stapleton, Senior Fellow, Mathematica

Stay at Home and Return to Work - December 2017

  • Is work good for your health?   With national rates of disability sharply increasing, enrollment in federal disability programs e.g. SSI and SSDI  is often associated with decline in recipients’ well-being - - physical health, mental health, substance abuse and family conflict.   It is essential that public policies favor staying at work upon the onset of a health problem, and that those who leave work temporarily return as soon as possible before their absence leads to permanent withdrawal from the labor force.   DOL has funds available for state experimentation.

​         Stay at Work/Return to Work: Innovative Approaches for Maintaining a Strong State Workforce
​         Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Disability and Employment Policy, Department of Labor

The Positive Health Effects of Work: Preventing Needless Work Disability by Helping People Stay Employed Despite Medical Conditions - July 2017

  • The likelihood that an individual will return to employment and close his or her disability case after enrolling in SSDI or SSI is under five percent over their lifetime. Research shows the loss of one’s livelihood is a devastating health outcome.  This session will shed light on the process by which jobs and livelihoods are lost – and the harm it creates. Part of the solution is to “upstream” private sector programs and interventions before deterioration leads to permanent disability. The cost-benefit numbers reveal under current national policies there is a misalignment between the economic interests of workers, government, and private sector employers.  A better solution will be proposed.   

​         Loss of Livelihood Is a Devastating Health Outcome
​         Dr. Jennifer Christian, Webility Corporation

Disability state demonstrations - November 2016

  • Wisconsin has enrolled over a thousand high school students receiving SSI into a program of work readiness and work experience to help merge them into employment upon graduation. The pilot, in its third year, is being evaluated using experimental design.   How is it going and what lessons can be learned so far?  

​         PROMISE (Promoting the Readiness Of Minors In Supplemental Security IncomE)     
​         Ellie Hartman, Promise Grant Project Manager, Wisconsin Department of Vocational Rehabilitation

Disability - November 2015

  • Rapid growth threatens to undermine large swaths of working adults.  The welfare population is migrating to SSI and its more generous benefits and no work requirements.   SIG calls for federal changes and state experimentation.

​         Disability: Inherent Problems, Practical Solutions and Action for Reform
​         Richard Burkhauser, Professor, Cornell University
​         Listen: NPR Disability Program 30 minute segment

February 2015
​         DC Disability Event February 2015

November 2014

  • Disability and Michigan’s Better Off Working proposals to Ways and Means

​         Better Off Working
​         Maura Corrigan, Director, Department of Human Services
​         Disability Considerations for Reform
​         Jason Turner, Executive Director, Secretaries' Innovation Group

  • Independent medical evaluation combined with vocational intervention to keep TANF adults in the labor force, rather than to SSI.

​         New York City and Helping TANF Recipients Adopt a Life of Work Over Disability
​         Grant Collins, Senior Vice President, Workforce Development and Executive Director of Fedcap

December 2013
​         DC Disability Event December 2013

Disability - August 2013

  • Major session based on the SIG/AEI/Brookings April two-day conference and its aftermath with Ways and Means members.  

​         Why the current system is experiencing explosion in enrollment
​         How the current disability determination process short-changes the life circumstances of those who could work.
​         Possible changes to eligibility and options for work interventions.
​         The evidence that work is good for your health.
​         Listen: 
Trends with Benefits condensed version (This American Life)
​         Chana Joffe-Walt, Reporter, National Public Radio
​         The Social Security Disability Determination Process
​         Pam Mazerski, Mazek and Associates
​         How to Create or Avert Needless Work Disability: Implications of New Models for Practice, Policy & Research
​         Jennifer Christian, MD, President and Chief Medical Officer, Webility Corporation
​         Intervention Strategies for Individuals Receiving Disability Cash Benefits
​         Michael Greco, Administrator, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
​         Lea Collin-Worachek, Workforce Development Area Director, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Wisconsin Department of Workforce

​         Development
​         PRIDE: A Model for Wellness and Employment
​         Marcia Salovitz, Consultant, New York City Department of Homeless Services

April 2013
​         DC Disability Event April 2013