Professor Juan Ignacio Sanchez, Knight-Ridder Eminent Chair in Management, is working alongside the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on an in-depth analysis of COVID-19’s impact on U.S. employment disability rates.
The NAS’ Standing Committee for the U.S. Social Security Administration Disability Programs, of which Sanchez is a member, was tasked by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee with identifying long-term, disabling conditions stemming from COVID-19.
“There’s concern that both the number of applications and the number of people on disability will increase as a result of limited abilities after having had the illness,” said Sanchez. “This will make economic situations worse.”
The NAS committee is examining conditions such as cardiac or pulmonary complications as well as fatigue and mental health issues that will affect people’s ability to hold full-time jobs. Sanchez pointed to front-line jobs that, as a result of the pandemic, are getting more complicated and becoming increasingly stressful for employees.
The group will also conduct a functional analysis of occupations that might diminish the impact of COVID-19 on costly employment disability rates. Over 2.5 million people apply for disability benefits in the U.S. every year, and this number is expected to grow steeply as a result of COVID-19.
“We will assess the residual functional capacity to rejoin the workforce,” said Sanchez. “Is the insured able to work in another occupation for which he or she is qualified, or which uses some, but not all, of his or her pre-disability occupational duties?”