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The Center for Health Policy and Research is a leader in helping people with disabilities overcome barriers to finding and keeping jobs — and in developing new ways to increase employers’ commitment to including people with disabilities in their workplaces.  

Supporting employment of people with disabilities

We evaluate and promote programs, policies, and practices related to the hiring, career advancement, and accommodation of youth and working-age adults with disabilities. Our goal is to maximize their job opportunities and outcomes. We provide consultation, technical assistance, services, and other supports to all stakeholders concerned with employment for people with disabilities, including employers.

With a team dedicated to studying and improving policies and practices related to disability employment, we focus on several core areas:

  • Providing direct employment-related support services to transition-age youth and working-age adults with disabilities
    • Understanding how working and earning wages affects disability benefits  — such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicare and Medicaid, subsidized housing, and food stamps
    • Counseling on how Social Security “work incentive” programs can be used to help people return to work or increase their earnings without jeopardizing their public benefits
    • Offering educational programs that increase financial literacy and knowledge of available resources
    • Identifying vocational rehabilitation and job placement support services
    • Understanding how to effectively prepare for employment
    • Connecting with a network of employers who are committed to diversity and inclusion
  • Offering training, consultation, and technical assistance for employers and employment service providers
    • Development of regional employment collaboratives that streamline the recruitment process and better meet the stated needs of employers and people with disabilities seeking employment
    • Recruitment, retention, management, and career advancement of workers with disabilities
    • Job accommodation and ergonomic evaluations
    • Job analysis and job descriptions that identify essential and non-essential functions
    • Disability and diversity awareness training
    • Use of Social Security work incentives 
  • Conducting research and evaluation on issues related to disability and employment

We are dedicated to supporting best practices in employment services for people with disabilities. For example, through a train-the-trainer approach, our team has worked in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) to develop and support a cadre of “master trainers” who provide evidence-based, supported employment services for people with psychiatric disabilities. We also provide consultation related to implementing and tracking outcomes of employment services funded by DMH.

Our team also assesses and overcomes transportation and accessibility challenges. We fostered the creation of six regional transportation coordination networks, for example, to fill the gap in mobility services for transportation disadvantaged populations. This effort engages private and public transit providers, disability serving agencies at the state and community level, the workforce development system, employers, people with disabilities, and advocates to develop transportation solutions at the community level.

Work Without Limits and BenePLAN

In addition to building the capacity of employment service and other providers, we offer direct services to employers and to people with disabilities through two main programs:

  • Work Without Limits is a statewide network of engaged employers and innovative, collaborative partners that aims to increase employment among individuals with disabilities. The Work Without Limits B2B Network provides a business-to-business forum for public- and private-sector employers to leverage each other’s experiences, knowledge, and activities related to recruiting and retaining workers with disabilities.
  • The benefits and work incentives experts at BenePLAN provide comprehensive benefits assessment, planning, and counseling — primarily for people who receive Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance, their families, and service providers. Understanding how working and earning wages affects disability benefits enables people to make informed decisions.

Disability employment projects

Our disability employment research projects span multiple topics:

  • Measuring the impact of unmet health care needs on employment and other outcomes for people with disabilities
  • Examining the work incentives and disincentives inherent in state and national disability benefit programs
  • Understanding work-related decision-making among working age adults with disabilities
  • Determining transportation-related work barriers and potential solutions for people with disabilities
  • Examining the factors that predict employment among transition-age youth with disabilities
  • Developing and disseminating innovative approaches to employer engagement among employment service providers