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Federal Grant Awarded to Improve National Disability Employment Data

October 16, 2015
Source: Institute on Disability at University of New Hampshire

The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire has been awarded a 5-year, $4.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). This is a five-year renewal of the grant, titled the Employment Policy & Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (EPM-RRTC), which works towards improving knowledge about and access to existing disability data, and generating the knowledge needed to improve future disability data collection and dissemination.

“The work we do for this grant will not only provide us with a better picture of employment for people with disabilities,” explains Andrew Houtenville, Research Director at the Institute on Disability and Principal Investigator for the EPM-RRTC grant. “It will help people better frame the issues, monitor current circumstances and progress, judge the effectiveness of policies and programs, make projections about the future, and predict the costs of potential policy changes.”

The mission of EPM-RRTC is to support the disability and policy communities as they take on important policy issues by generating and translating new knowledge about disability employment policy and ways to measure the labor market experiences of people with disabilities. In doing so, the Center will improve the quality of information about program interactions, policy options, and employment outcomes, increase evidenced-based advocacy and policymaking, foster more effective policies and practices, and ultimately, increase employment for people with disabilities.

The Centers research activities will help prepare the disability community by generating new knowledge about the effects of program interactions, assessing the impacts of potential or actual Social Security Disability Insurance reforms, and, developing valid, reliable methods of measuring employment outcomes.

This grant proposes 11 research and 12 knowledge translation projects. The following are some highlights:

  • A research project to use the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to assess health insurance and health care access of new SSDI beneficiaries before and after the implementation of the ACA.
  • A research project to assess how the employment outcomes of applicants to vocational rehabilitation services vary when agencies are more or less constrained by funding.
  • A research project to develop a multidimensional measure of employment and a striving-to-work indicator.
  • A research project to develop reliable estimates of the employment experiences of people with disabilities and people with serious mental illness (SMI) using new approaches for web-survey data collection.

Knowledge translation activities include training, technical assistance, and the expansion of existing work with the Monthly nTIDE Jobs Report, Policy Supplements to the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, and CBO Budget Scoring Briefs. Key partners include Mathematica, Hunter College, Kessler Foundation, and the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD). For more information, visit

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