• the dynamic nature of disability;

  • the relationship between the physical environment and social environment and work disability; and

  • understanding the external factors affecting the development of work disability.

If such research is fruitful, incorporating such changes in the Social Security disability determination process will begin to move it away from a predominantly medically driven approach to consider factors beyond physical, sensory, cognitive, or emotional impairments and may ultimately involve changes in SSA’s implementing regulations.

As this chapter has shown, a full understanding of work disability needs to take into account the individual’s circumstances and the social and physical environment of the workplace. The research challenge is to apply the insights provided by the current models of disability to come to a common understanding of work disability concepts, and to understand the dynamics of the pathway between health conditions and work disability. Researchers need to find ways to incorporate an understanding of external factors influencing the development of work disability into future measurement strategies.

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