Disability is a major component of U.S. healthcare spending. According to 2000 U.S. Census data, 19.3% of the population (approximately 50 million Americans) is disabled. At the federal level, the Social Security Administration (SSA) processes approximately 3 million disability claims each year in order to provide benefits for those experiencing a temporary or permanent disability. Disability determination is an integral part of claim processing in SSA. Unfortunately, it is common to experience delays during the determination process due to incomplete medical evidence. These delays can have both economic and social costs in terms of negative impacts on claimants who are seeking support to continue their lives.

Research is being conducted in a variety of areas surrounding systems that could help those with disabilities. Some of this research includes the following initiatives:

  • Conduct of a case study on Massachusetts General Hospital’s use of electronic submission of medical evidence to SSA using Electronic Records Express (ERE).
  • Conduct of a national research study in the use of information systems in disability health management, medical evidence collection, and disability determination.
  • Conduct of a case study on MEGAHIT (Medical Evidence Gathering and Analysis through Health IT with SSA and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
  • Conduct of a case study on the transmission of live data across the Nationwide Health Information Network between SSA and MedVirginia (a Health Information Exchange) for the request and collection of medical evidence for disability determination.
  • System analysis and design of a web-based employment network portal workflow management application.
  • Developing a plan and implementation map to increase consumer awareness and involvement in SSA’s disability determination process. This will involve an understanding of areas appropriate for and levels of such involvement.