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The Working Together Challenge: The Results

Published: July 2015

Six Recommendations for Policymakers and Others Working to Improve Services and Supports for Working Age Persons with Disabilities

In the spring of 2015, the National Academy of Social Insurance launched Working Together as an initiative to generate ideas that improve services and supports for working-age persons with disabilities or that promote access to quality services and supports. Our goal is to help identify and highlight research areas, promising new practices, or proven ideas for policymakers and other leaders to prioritize, especially amidst concerted efforts to boost employment among working-age persons with disabilities.

In 2015, the Academy is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security, and the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Together, these programs provide access to quality, affordable health care and income supports that enable millions of Americans and their families to remain healthy, independent, and engaged in the community. Without the ADA and these social insurance programs, persons with disabilities would have much fewer opportunities (and more barriers) to enter or stay in the workforce. As we look to the future, there are many opportunities – with various leaders and stakeholders working together – to provide quality services and supports that promote full participation and employment.

The Working Together initiative began with a crowd-sourcing challenge to harness the collective knowledge of an interdisciplinary community of disability, health, and social insurance experts. Using IdeaScale, an online crowd-sourcing platform, Academy members and other experts were invited to participate by submitting ideas or voting on previously submitted ideas. Participants could also comment on the submitted ideas, which led to a rich discussion of how to improve them. Over 250 experts participated in the challenge, and more than 30 submissions were collected online from May to June 2015. After voting closed at the end of June, an Advisory Committee reviewed the submissions and identified six key themes/areas to recommend for further action by the policy community.

Results of the Working Together Challenge
The Advisory Committee grouped many of the submitted ideas into six recommendations:

  1. Continue to fill gaps in the existing research.
  2. Develop options to address the added costs of living (and working) with a disability.
  3. Further research into new employment support programs to identify the most effective models.
  4. Evaluate managed care models in the context of supporting individuals with disabilities.
  5. Improve the financing and delivery of long-term services and supports (LTSS).
  6. Examine the potential impact (and cost) of a national paid family leave program.

The recommendations, and the winners, are detailed in the download below.