Suggested Topics

Workplace Characteristics and Supports

  • SSA beneficiaries receive both cash and in-kind assistance from a variety of sources. How much do these supports add to the well-being of SSA beneficiaries? Can we estimate the dollar value of in-kind supports? How do these other supports vary by disability type and by sociodemographic characteristics?
  • Has health insurance coverage by SSA beneficiaries changed since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act?
  • What are the job characteristics in terms of wages, hours, and job benefits among beneficiaries working in sheltered workshops?
  • How do work goals and expectations and use of vocational services differ for those working in sheltered workshops as compared to other beneficiaries?
  • How do job accommodations differ by disability or by occupation or industry types?
  • What are the most common services used by beneficiaries with psychiatric conditions compared to those with physical or cognitive impairments? How does the use of employment services differ across these groups?

Recipient Characteristics

  • How does age affect the ability to work of individuals with specified impairments, such as musculoskeletal impairments or affective disorders?
  • How does education affect the ability to work among persons with health impairments
  • Does “when” a worker earned a degree impact employability/career change
  • Does higher education always provide a competitive advantage for a worker, or does this advantage decrease over time?
  • Social Security benefits are modest (roughly $1,200 per month). What role does a person’s pre-disability financial situation play in efforts to return to work following disability onset? For example, would individuals with high pre-disability earnings/income or high household expenses (children in college) be more likely to seek a return to work in order to maintain his or her pre-disability standard of living?
  • There is a wide range of impairments among individuals receiving disability payments from Social Security. Are some impairments associated with dramatically higher levels of return to work?

Ticket to Work

  • SSA supports services provided by vocational rehabilitation agencies and employment networks under the TTW program.
  • To what extent are beneficiaries getting employment services from other sources such as a private employment agency, a medical/vocational rehabilitation center, or vocational services through a State welfare agency?
  • How did beneficiaries who used their ticket become aware of the program? Of those that used their ticket and returned to work, to what kind of work did they return and what services were the most helpful in their return to work?


  • Have there been structural changes in the economy, policy environments, or workplace cultures that make employers more or less likely to engage individuals with health impairments, different levels of education, or different types of past work experience? For example, in the U.S., over time, has the culture, sociology, or economics of the workplace become more or less accommodating of individuals with limited education or advanced age?