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The Center for Studying Disability Policy (CSDP), funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Social Security Administration as part of the Disability Research Consortium (DRC), develops and disseminates new research that can help support policy improvements for people with disabilities. The DRC Update highlights CSDP’s work and upcoming opportunities and events relevant to the DRC’s mission.
To learn more about CSDP’s effort with the DRC, visit: http://www.disabilitypolicyresearch.org/DRC/.

Disability Policy Research Newsletter
 DRC Update - Issue 1
 February, 2013
 Partner Spotlight 
 • Partner Spotlight
• Project Profile
• Meet our Staff
• Announcements
• Save the Date

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 To subscribe to the quarterly newsletter and other DRC products, please click here.

University of Illinois at Chicago
CSDP is proud to collaborate with a team of highly qualified researchers in the DRC, including partners from academia with expertise in areas related to disability research, evaluation, and data development as well as experience providing training and research opportunities to graduate students and faculty.

One of our three DRC partners, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), is leading our research into services for people with psychiatric disabilities. The UIC team, led University of Chicago at Illinois campus photoby Judith Cook, who directs the UIC Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy, has conducted some of the nation’s most important studies of supported employment for people with psychiatric disabilities. Dr. Cook and her UIC colleagues frequently consult with state vocational rehabilitation and mental health agencies on service system redesign, financing strategies, outcome measurement, and evidence-based practice (EBP) in supported employment.

UIC, a national leader in extramural research on disability policy, is also managing the DRC’s training activities, which will fund and facilitate mentorship of early-career academicians to enhance the focus, relevance, and quality of current and future disability policy research. These activities, targeted to doctoral students, those who recently earned doctoral degrees, and junior faculty, will foster collaboration and communication among researchers at the national level and promote the use of rigorous research methods to help build the evidence base that guides policy reforms.

 Analyses of Supported Employment and Disability Benefit Data
UIC investigators Judith A. Cook, Jane K. Burke-Miller, and Dennis D. Grey are examining barriers to employment for people with serious psychiatric disabilities and the quantitative effects of those barriers, including fear of losing cash benefits; fear of losing eligibility for public health insurance and access to services, including those instrumental to work; and difficulties in achieving and maintaining economic self-sufficiency because of limited skills, long periods out of the labor force, acute medical episodes, or high disability-related costs.

Research has shown that EBP in supported employment services substantially improves employment outcomes for people with psychiatric disabilities. The goals of this project are:

  • Learn more about the long-term (12-year) impacts of EBP in supported employment on earnings, benefit receipt, and mortality
  • Investigate the sensitivity of earnings and benefit receipt to the substantial gainful activity amount,
  • Improve the understanding of how beneficiaries and clients rely on a combination of work and benefits for support
  • Build the knowledge base about objective and subjective factors that influence job separations for such workers
The UIC’s work on this project will result in immediately useful information and will build on a growing body of evidence indicating that many people with chronic conditions and permanent impairments can and want to work. Together with its partners in the DRC and at the federal level, CSDP will identify and explore opportunities to leverage the findings from this project to inform the program designs that would help individuals with psychiatric disabilities earn more and rely less on public programs.
 Crystsal Blyler photographCrystal Blyler (PhD, Psychology, Harvard University)
is a senior researcher at Mathematica who specializes in policies and programs serving those with psychiatric and other disabilities. Dr. Blyler directs the DRC research on workers with chronic conditions and other long-term impairments. In addition, she directs the Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Services Demonstration Evaluation and serves as senior adviser for several projects investigating ways to improve employment outcomes for people with psychiatric and other disabilities as well as projects investigating the development and testing of behavioral health quality measures. 

Before joining Mathematica in 2011, Dr. Blyler served for more than 12 years as a social science analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In this capacity, she was the agency lead on employment issues for people with serious mental illness, oversaw the Employment Intervention Demonstration Program, and supervised SAMHSA’s EBP Knowledge Information Transformation to help states, communities, and other organizations implement EBPs on supported employment. While at SAMHSA, Dr. Blyler collaborated extensively with numerous state and federal agencies on efforts to overcome barriers facing people with disabilities, to improve their employment outcomes, and to transform mental health systems.

Commenting on the potential of the DRC’s research to facilitate and guide disability policy reform and systems change, Dr. Blyler said, “Mental illness is a leading cause of disability in the United States, but research consistently shows that people with mental illnesses can and want to work. The DRC will make important contributions to our understanding of how policies and programs can best support the work aspirations of people with psychiatric and other disabilities and help them make progress toward their goal of economic independence and self sufficiency.”
 Funding Opportunities Available for Disability Policy Scholars 
CSDP and UIC are accepting applications for three grants that offer funding opportunities for graduate students and new researchers conducting disability policy research. The grants, sponsored by the Social Security Administration and the DRC, include:
  1. Disability Policy Research Summer Scholars Program (12 weeks, $10,000, up to three awards available)
  2. Disability Policy Research Dissertation Scholars Program (12 months, $20,000, up to two awards available)
  3. Disability Policy Research Emerging Investigator Award Program (12 months, $30,000, up to two awards available)

All applications are due March 8, 2013. For additional information, please visit CSDP’s DRC webpage

 CSDP Disability Policy Research Forum  April appointment calendar
April 3, 2013, 12:00 PM–1:30 PM
  • Interim findings from the Youth Transition Demonstration Evaluation
  • Long-term data trends for young Social Security Disability awardees
Forum details and registration information will be available on the CSDP forum webpage in early March.

ABOUT US. Mathematica's Center for Studying Disability Policy (CSDP) is one of two policy research centers leading the Social Security Administration's Disability Research Consortium. The CSDP and its partners will build the guidance base to support policy improvements for people with disabilities (PWD).

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