New Disability Policy Briefs Relevant to RETAIN Pilots

Jack Smalligan



I am starting a series of briefs that may be of interest to you as it should help to put the RETAIN pilots into a broader context .  A New Direction for Disability Policy examines how federal policy could improve the employment of people with disabilities through expanded use of early intervention. 

As some of you know, I served in the Office of Management and Budget within the Executive Office of the President for 27 years, much of that time focused on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.  Jennifer Christian and I met when I went to the Brookings Institution in 2012 for a sabbatical to focus on SSDI.  We have stayed in touch since then and last year, inspired by Jennifer’s paper, I was in the right civil servant position at OMB to be able to recommend to the Trump Administration that they include funds in the DoL budget for what became the RETAIN proposal.


I am now at the Urban Institute and continuing to work on disability policy.  Below are links to the first two briefs:


·         A Stronger Social Security Disability Insurance Program Opens the Door for Early Intervention – examines the debate around the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and finds the program is now much stronger than it has been in many years.  We conclude that while SSDI is stronger, policy makers have missed opportunities to more effectively support the employment of people with disabilities.


·         Expanding Early Intervention for Newly Ill and Injured Workers and Connections to Paid Medical Leave – examines why existing federal and state programs fail to intervene early with newly ill or injured workers and identifies an opportunity to pair proposals for universal paid family and medical leave with grants to states to test promising models for early intervention that could be scaled up over time.

We have at least two more briefs in this series.  The third brief will go much more into how this issue area intersects with the health care field. We are also releasing a short blog to give an overview of this project.



Jack Smalligan

Senior Policy Fellow



U R B A N  

Income and Benefits Policy Center


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