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News, February 2002
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DRI Announces Small Grants
Program Supports Research in Priority
With the support of the Social Security Administration Office of Research
and Statistics, DRI has established a "Small Grants Program." This Program
provides up to $25,000 to support research projects lasting no longer
than twelve months. Of the 25 proposals received at the DRI in response
to a call for Small Grant Proposals, selected for funding are the following:
- Accessing the World of Work: Concerns of African Americans with
Disabilities Actively Seeking Employment.- Fabricio E.Balcazar,
Ph.D., Kimberly M. Hall, M.A., University of Illinois at Chicago
- The Decline in Employment of People with Disabilities in the
1990's: Disentangling Composition Changes and Measurement Errors from
the Effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act. - Thomas DeLeire,
Ph.D., University of Chicago
- Determinants of the Adult Achievements of Child SSI Beneficiaries:
Evidence from Linked Public-Use Data and Social Security Administration
Records. - Elizabeth Powers, Ph.D., University of Illinois at
- Employment Outcomes for Persons with Disabilities in a Mature
Economic Environment: Longitudinal Analyses. - Edward Yelin, Ph.D.
and Laura Turpin, M.P.H, University of California, San Francisco.
DRI Annual Symposium - June 6, 2002
SSA Disability Benefits: Apply, Qualify...Return to Work
Mark your calendars now for the next DRI Symposium!
The symposium, "Disability Benefits: Apply, Qualify...Return to Work,"
will be held June 6, 2002, at the National Press Club in Washington,
- Edward D. Berkowitz of George Washington University, an authority
on the history of the Social Security program, will be keynote speaker.
- Jo Anne B. Barnhart, Commissioner of Social Security, and Paul Van
der Water, Acting Deputy Commissioner of the SSA Office of Policy,
have been invited to speak.
- Members of the DRI research faculty will present findings of their
research projects in the areas of applying for benefits, qualifying
for benefits, and returning to work.
- A panel of guest experts will discuss future directions for SSA
- The symposium hotel is the J.W. Marriott adjacent to the Press Club.
For more information about DRI research projects and about the DRI
annual symposium, visit our web site at http://www.als.uiuc.edu/dri
New Year 2 Research Projects
DRI has Funded a Range of Research
with Disability Policy Implications for Social Security Programs
- Job Demands - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
Chrisann Schiro-Geist, Ph.D. - Northwestern University, Allen Heinemann,
Ph.D. - The project will recommend one or more approaches and attendant
issues that SSA should consider in its investigation of occupational
variables that would be the most useful indicators of the ability
to work. - What factors are the most useful indicators of the ability
to meet job demands?
- Disabled Non-Beneficiaries Who Work - University of Chicago,
National Opinion Research Center, Mary Grace Kovar, Ph.D. - The project
will investigate the characteristics of working people with disabilities
severe enough to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance
(SSDI), and the factors that enable them to work. The researchers
will implement a three-pronged approach consisting of 1) an annotated
review of existing studies, 2) an annotated review of existing data
sets, and 3) an analysis of a soon-to-be-available linked data set.
- What do existing studies and data sets reveal about persons with
disabilities who work?
- Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs) - University of
Wisconsin, Stout, Fred Menz, Ph.D. - The project will evaluate how
CRPs currently serve SSDI/SSI beneficiaries as well as their effectiveness
in enabling beneficiaries to return to work and to sustain work. -
What may be done to increase CRP effectiveness in serving the SSDI/SSI
- Paths to the Disability Insurance Program - Rutgers, The
State University of New Jersey, Monroe Berkowitz, Ph.D. - The project
will investigate the extent to which SSDI applicants also receive
other benefits. Knowing more about where applicants have been and
their experiences with other benefit programs and return to work programs
may help SSA in its efforts to assist applicants in returning to the
world of work rather than becoming dependent on disability benefits.
In addition, understanding how these other benefit programs operate
may aid SSA in evaluating its own programs. - To what extent have
applicants to the SSDI program experienced other benefit programs?
- Human Factors and Employment Issues Related to the Use of Assistive
Technologies - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brad
Hedrick, Ph.D. - This project will examine the impact of assistive
technology (AT) utilization upon employment outcomes of individuals
with spinal cord injuries, across a range of professional and non-professional
employment settings. - Are there unmet AT needs for which additional
resources may be warranted to improve employment success?
Major DRI Research Efforts
1. Designing an Early Intervention Experiment
and Demonstration Approach
Monroe Berkowitz and John Burton - Rutgers, The State University of
The goal of this effort is to design a demonstration
project for SSA, offering return to work services to applicants for
Disability Insurance benefits. An applicant selection procedure has
been prepared with the aid and advice of stakeholders and experts. Chosen
applicants will also undergo a second screen to identify those with
a reasonable chance of success in a return to work program, and the
criteria for the second screen have been chosen. A maximum expenditure
formula has also been devised to ensure that the project is cst beneficial.
Finally, the basic scenarios to be followed in carrying out the project
in three pilot states - Wisconsin, Vermont and Maryland - have been
2. Research Approaches for Validation of SSA's Medical
Allen Heinemann - Northwestern University and Mary Grace
Kovar - University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center (Phase
I & II)
Richard Roessler and Tanya Gallagher - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
The Medical Listings project has developed a research methodology to
investigate the validity of SSA's Medical Listings. Major features of
the methodology have been outlined, including design options, strengths
and limitations of the options, and recommendations. Further study will
incorporate a Project Team and an Expert Panel in implementing steps
required to examine the concordance between judgments relating to medical
status and capacity to engage in substantial gainful activity.
National Center for Supercomputing
Applications (NCSA) Offers Insight and Information Analysis to DRI Researchers
DRI Researchers Have Access to Innovative
Tools for Information Analysis
"The NCSA's strength is analyzing large sets of heterogeneous
data. Our tools provide a mechanism for visualizing the complex problems
relating to disability policy research." - Thomas I. Prudhomme, Ph.D.,
Director of the External Programs Division, NCSA
The Social Security Administration's objective in funding the Disability
Research Institute was to understand the reality and impact of its income
programs - including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security
Disability Insurance (SSDI) - on the lives of SSI and SSDI applicants
and participants. To realize that goal, researchers are examining many
types of disability policy data from many different sources. They seek
not only to identify relationships in the datasets but also to understand
the factors that influence the relationships.
One of the advantages of establishing the DRI at the University of
Illinois is its proximity to the National Center for Supercomputing
Applications (NCSA), an institution with an international reputation
in high-performance computing and networking and in developing innovative
software applications. NCSA's tools for large-scale datamining and high
performance computerization offer an innovative approach to disability
policy research. The Center's information technology infrastructure
and tools are designed to attack complex problems regardless of their
size and number of variables. Given the multiple domains one must consider
in disability policy research, these methods and models may provide
insight into the priority research areas defined by the SSA. NCSA staff
are available to consult with disability policy researchers to help
them make the best use of these computing innovations and to augment
their research approach with NCSA's cutting-edge information analysis
Meet the DRI Staff and New Research Coordinator, Richard T. Roessler
- Rick Roessler assumed the role of Research Coordinator in
January, 2002. He was most recently Principal Investigator, Project
A-WIN (5-year grant from the Social Security Administration) and Co-Director
of National Multiple Sclerosis Society Employment Project (In collaboration
with Kent State University, 2-year grant from the National Multiple
Sclerosis Society). He also served as University Professor Emeritus
of Rehabilitation Education and Research, Department of Rehabilitation,
College of Education and Health Professions, University of Arkansas,
Fayetteville, Arkansas. He has worked at the University of Arkansas
in positions of increasing responsibility for thirty years. At the
DRI, Dr. Roessler will pursue his long-term interest in the development
and evaluation of return-to-work programs for people with severe disabilities.
His specific interests include: rehabilitation counseling and service
delivery, coping with disability and chronic illness, career development,
school-to-work transition, employability assessment and training,
return-to-work interventions, and postemployment services.
- Emer Broadbent works at the DRI as Staff Project Coordinator;
he brings practice experience to the DRI from institutional settings
for the elderly and mentally ill, as well as legal aid. He holds a
Master's degree in Social Service Administration and a Law Degree,
as well as a Ph.D. He is also a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.
Emer served for five years as the Executive Director of the Council
on Rehabilitation Education and has experience teaching at the bachelor's
and master's level.
- Pat Manns moved from Pittsburgh, PA and joined the staff
of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in August, 1973.
She has worked in the University's Continuing Education Department
and Department of Kinesiology. In August, 2000, she became the DRI
Administrative Aide and helped coordinate the logistics of setting
up the newly established Institute. She enjoys the everyday challenge
of working with individuals from within various DRI affiliated and
collaborating institutions as well as the project officers and staff
from the Social Security Administration.
New Researchers Affiliate with DRI
Fred Menz and Brad Hedrick Direct New Year 2 Research Projects
- Dr. Brad Hedrick is the Director of the Division of Rehabilitation-Education
Services (DRES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Hedrick has more than 23 years of professional experience in the
field of rehabilitation, and has extensive experience and expertise
in the administration of adapted sports and recreation for persons
with disabilities. He has coached athletes with disabilities at the
local, national and international levels, and authored a wide array
of applied research and professional books, chapters, monographs and
articles on this subject. He currently serves as the Treasurer of
the Association on Higher Education and Disability, and is the Chairperson
of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Division II Committee.
- Dr. Fred Menz is Director of the Research and Training Center
and the Continuing Education Center on Community-Based Rehabilitation
Programs at the University of Wisconsin-Stout Vocational Rehabilitation
Institute. Dr. Menz has published widely and has received national
recognition for his research on the role, effectiveness and issues
of vocational rehabilitation provided through public and non-profit
programs. His recent research and educational goals are to help increase
the capability and quality of community and public rehabilitation
programs to affect employment outcomes for individuals with disablities.
DISABILITY RESEARCH INSTITUTE
College of Applied Life Studies
University of Illinois
1207 South Oak Street Rm 158 MC575
Champaign IL 61820