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Project Information

Project Information

Standing Committee of Medical and Vocational Experts for the Social Security Administration's Disability Programs

Project Scope:

The Health and Medicine division (HMD) will establish a standing committee of about 15 medical experts to assist the Social Security Administration (SSA) to improve its disability programs.  The standing committee will maintain surveillance of the field including the literature, clinical practices, and published studies related to disability. In this regard the committee will collect and analyze relevant data and information and serve as a focal point for discussions of disability issues and the SSA’s sequential evaluation process.  The context for the discussions would be potential studies or other activities such as workshops on topics that SSA might want HMD to undertake and the planning and program development efforts on prospective projects to be initiated under the auspices of the standing committee.  All activities of the standing committee will be conducted in accordance with institutional guidelines.

Status: Current

PIN: IOM-BSP-13-07

RSO: Helsing, Karen


Board on Health Care Services


Behavioral and Social Sciences
Health and Medicine

Parent Project(s): N/A

Child Project(s): N/A

Geographic Focus:

Committee Membership

Howard H. Goldman - (Chair)
Howard H. Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. His expertise is in evaluating mental health services and financing programs and policies. Dr. Goldman and his colleagues recently completed the SSA Mental Health Treatment Study, an experimental trial of supported employment and enhanced treatment for 2,200 SSDI beneficiaries with schizophrenia or a mood disorder who are interested in working. He also served as principal investigator of the study team conducting the Evaluation of the Implementation and Impact of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, sponsored by the government. Dr. Goldman served as the senior scientific editor of the Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health from 1997 to 1999, for which he was awarded the Surgeon General’s Medallion. During 2002 and 2003, Dr. Goldman was a consultant to the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. From 2004 to 2016 he served as editor of Psychiatric Services, a mental health services research and policy journal published monthly by the American Psychiatric Association. He has served on the editorial boards of several other journals, including the American Journal of Psychiatry and the Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics. He is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, having served on its disability policy panel, and he is an NAM member, having served on its Committee on Medical Evaluation of Veterans for Disability Compensation. Dr. Goldman received joint M.D.-M.P.H. degrees from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in social policy research from the Heller School at Brandeis University.
Wendy J. Coster
Wendy Coster, OTR/L, Ph.D. is the chair and a professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, and acting chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training in Boston University’s College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Sargent College. Her interests are in the development of children and youth with disabilities and in outcomes measurement. She coauthored the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI) and the School Function Assessment (SFA) for children with disabilities. Dr. Coster is a fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), a member of the Academy of Research of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, a recipient of the A. Jean Ayres Research Award, the Sargent College Award of Merit, and the 2007 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award from AOTA. She has a B.A. from Antioch College, an M.S. in occupational therapy from Boston University Sargent College, and a Ph.D. from the Department of Psychology and Social Relations at Harvard University.
Allen W. Heinemann
Allen W. Heinemann, Ph.D. is Director of the Center for Rehabilitation Outcomes Research at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. His research interests focus on health services research, psychosocial aspects of rehabilitation including substance abuse, and measurement issues in rehabilitation. He is the author of more than 300 articles in peer-reviewed publications and is the editor of Substance Abuse and Physical Disability published by Haworth Press. Dr. Heinemann is a diplomate in Rehabilitation Psychology (ABPP), and a fellow of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) and the American Psychological Association (APA Division 22). During 2004-2005, he served as president of ACRM and the Rehabilitation Psychology division of the American Psychological Association. He serves as co-editor-in-chief for the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and on the editorial boards of several journals including the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation and Rehabilitation Psychology. He is the recipient of the APA Division 22 Roger Barker Distinguished Career Award. He serves on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee of Medical Experts to Assist Social Security on Disability Issues and previously served on the Committee on Improving the Disability Decision Process: SSA’s Listing of Impairments and Agency Access to Medical Expertise. He received a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Kansas.
Amy Houtrow
Amy Houtrow, M.D., Ph.D. is the chief of the Division of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Dr. Houtrow’s main clinical focus is caring for children with disabling conditions to help maximize their health, function and quality of life. Under her direction, providers in the division care for patients with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, rheumatologic disorders, brain and spinal cord injuries, and disabilities from orthopedic, musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. Dr. Houtrow, also an associate professor and vice chair in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, comes to Children’s from the University of California at San Francisco, where she was assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and medical director of pediatric rehabilitation. During that time, she also was certified in the subspecialty of pediatric rehabilitation medicine and completed doctoral studies in medical sociology in June 2012. Dr. Houtrow is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. She earned an M.D. from Michigan State University.
Clarion E. Johnson
Clarion E. Johnson, M.D. is the global medical director for the ExxonMobil's medicine and occupational health department which delivers services to over 110,000 ExxonMobil and affiliate employees worldwide. He is a Director at National Business Group on Health. Dr. Johnson has served on several Academies committees, including the Board on Global health, and is co-chairing the Forum on Public-Private Partnerships for Global Health and Safety and the Planning Committee for the Value Proposition and Innovation Models for Multisectoral Engagement in Global Health. Dr. Johnson, who is board certified in internal medicine, cardiology and occupational medicine, completed his undergraduate work at Sarah Lawrence College and graduated from Yale University's School of Medicine.
Judith G. McKenzie
Judith G. McKenzie, M.D., M.P.H. is Professor, Division Chief, and Residency Program Director in the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. McKenzie’s clinical work centers on disability management, injury care, and environmental exposures. Her research focuses on outcomes in occupational and environmental medicine, especially in the areas of blood borne pathogen exposures, the cost of work-related disability, and graduate medical education. She serves on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee of Medical Experts to Assist Social Security on Disability Issues and the Committee on Health Care Utilization and Adults with Disabilities. She received a B.A. in biology from Princeton University, an M.D. from Yale University’s School of Medicine, and an M.P.H. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.
Patricia M. Owens
Patricia M. Owens, M.P.A. is a senior disability expert for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Ms. Owens has more than 30 years of experience in health- and disability-related programs and policy. She has an unusual set of qualifications, having held executive, policy development, and administrative positions in both the public and private disability sectors. Her experience serves as the basis for in-depth understanding of the multidimensional and interactive nature of health and disability in terms of social policy and risk management. She has consulted with both private- and public-sector organizations on health and disability issues, programs, and products. Organizations for which she has consulted include the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, the Urban Institute, the National Academy of Social Insurance (board member), Rutgers Disability Income Studies, and the Government Accountability Office. She helped UNUM, UK (an insurance company in Great Britain) launch a study of the cost of disability in 2000–2001. Ms. Owens is a member of the board of directors of Village Care of New York, a multimillion dollar AIDS treatment network and community nursing and rehabilitation services provider for persons with impairment. She was a member of the National Research Council-Institute of Medicine Committee on Veterans' Compensation for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. She earned an M.P.A. degree from the University of Missouri.
Juan I. Sanchez
Juan I. Sanchez, Ph.D. is Professor and Knight-Ridder Byron Harless Eminent Chair in the Department of Management and International Business, Florida International University. His areas of expertise are competency modeling and job analysis, performance management, human resource management, and international human resources management. Dr. Sanchez has extensive experience in the development and validation of personnel selection systems, job and task analysis, the design of commercial tests and test batteries, the development of criterion-related validity studies, and the design of training evaluation systems. He served as a member of the Occupational Information Development Advisory Panel (OIDAP), a federal advisory committee to the Social Security Administration (SSA), which provided independent advice and recommendations to SSA on the creation of an occupational information system (OIS). Dr. Sanchez has authored numerous papers and articles on topics including the consensus of competency ratings, comparison of job analysis methodologies, and the evaluation of work analysis. His work has been cited more than 7,200 times according to Google Scholar. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. His editorial positions include serving as Associate Editor, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology; Consulting Editor of the Journal of Applied Psychology; Editorial Board Member of Personnel Psychology, the International Journal of Selection and Assessment, Group and Organization Management, and The Journal of International Business Studies. He has served on several National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committees, including the Panel to Review the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) and the Workshop on Assessment of 21st Century Skills. Dr. Sanchez received a Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology with a minor in management from the University of South Florida.
J. Sanford Schwartz
J. Sanford Schwartz, M.D. is the Leon Hess Professor of Medicine, Health Management and Economics in the School of Medicine and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also executive director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and the Robert D. Eilers Professor of Health Care Management and Economics. Previously, he was director of clinical efficiency assessment at the American College of Physicians, and the chief of ambulatory health care at the Philadelphia Veteran’s Administration Medical Center. His areas of research include medical decision making; assessment of medical technology and medical practices; cost-quality tradeoffs in health care; adoption and diffusion of medical innovation; health economics; and health policy. His current projects include a comprehensive project to assess the effectiveness, efficacy, and cost of alternative management strategies of patients with gall bladder disease; a study to develop new methods to assess quality of care; methodological advances in economic assessment of health care; a study of diffusion and adoption of surgical innovations; improvement of cost-effective preventive practices; and assessment of new technologies. Dr. Schwartz has been a consultant for the Health Care Financing Administration; the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the National Institutes of Health; the Department of Defense; the World Health Organization; the Presidential Commission on Social Affairs, Chamber of Deputies, Rome, Italy; the American College of Physicians; the Institute of Health Care Evaluation, Texas A&M University; the New Jersey Department of Health; Blue Cross and Blue Shield Associations of America; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the Association of Academic Medical Centers; and a number of pharmaceutical companies. He is an NAM member and has served on several committees, including the Panel on Performance Measures for Data and Public Health Performance Partnership Grants (1995-1999), the Workshop on the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Process (1989-1990), and the Committee to Conduct a Workshop on the Development of a Research Agenda Concerning Medical Diagnosis and Treatment of Breast Cancer (1989). Dr. Schwartz received his A.B. degree from the University of Rochester, and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Karrie Shogren
Karrie Shogren, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Special Education, Director of the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities, and Associate Director of the Beach Center on Disability. Dr. Shogren's research focuses on self-determination and systems of support for students with disabilities and she has a specific interest in the multiple, nested contextual factors that impact student outcomes. Dr. Shogren has published more than 85 articles in peer-reviewed journals, is the author or co-author of 10 books, and is one of the co-authors of Intellectual Disability: Definition, Classification, and Systems of Support, the 11th Edition of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities' seminal definition of intellectual disability (formerly mental retardation) as well as the Supports Intensity Scale-Children's and Adult Version. Dr. Shogren has received grant funding from several sources, including the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). Dr. Shogren is co-editor of Inclusion and Remedial and Special Education, and associate editor of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities. Dr. Shogren served on the Academies’ Committee on Improving Health Outcomes for Children with Disabilities. She earned a Ph.D. in special education from the University of Kansas.
Ira Shoulson
Ira Shoulson, M.D. is founder and principal of Grey Matter Technologies LLC, a company focused on “Making Patients Heard” by capturing and interpreting patient reports using natural language processing and machine learning, applying these technologies to clinical research and care. He is currently adjunct professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester and Georgetown University. From 2011 to July 2018, Dr Shoulson was Professor of Neurology, Pharmacology and Human Science and Director of the Program for Regulatory Science and Medicine (PRSM) at Georgetown University where he was principal investigator of the FDA-Georgetown University Collaborating Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation. From 1990 to 2011, Dr Shoulson was the Louis C. Lasagna Professor of Experimental Therapeutics and Professor of Neurology, Pharmacology and Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry in Rochester, New York. Dr. Shoulson founded the Parkinson Study Groupin 1985 and the Huntington Study Group in 1994 -- international academic consortia devoted to research and development of treatments for Parkinson disease, Huntington disease and related neurodegenerative and neurogenetic disorders. He was a key investigator in the US-Venezuela Collaborative Huntington Disease Project, which identified the gene responsible for this fatal hereditary disorder. Dr Shoulson has served as principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health-sponsored trials "Deprenyl and Tocopherol Antioxidative Therapy of Parkinsonism" (DATATOP), the “Prospective Huntington At Risk Observational Study” (PHAROS), and in the leadership of more than 40 other multi-center clinical research studies. He played an instrumental role in the development of 10 new drugs for neurological disorders, including for Parkinson disease (selegiline, lazabemide, pramipexole, entacapone, clozapine, rasagiline, rotigitine), Huntington disease (tetrabenazine, dutetetrabenazine) and attention deficit disorder (Concerta). He was formerly a health policy fellow in the US Senate, a member of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council, president of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics (ASENT), and associate editor of JAMA Neurology. Since May 2014, he has served as a non-executive director of Prana Biotechnology Ltd (Melbourne, Australia). In 2016, he was recipient of the Michael J. Fox Foundation Pritzker Prize, in recognition of his leadership in research and education for Parkinson disease. Dr. Shoulson is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He has authored more than 325 scientific reports. He received his MD degree with Honors and postdoctoral training in medicine and neurology at the University of Rochester and in experimental therapeutics at the National Institutes of Health.
Ruth E. Stein
Ruth E. K. Stein, M.D. is a professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and former vice chairman in the Department of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. Her research on children’s health and children with chronic conditions has been supported by a number of federal agencies and private foundations. For more than a decade she was director and principal investigator of the National Institute of Mental Health-supported Preventive Intervention Research Center for Child Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center. She has published extensively on children with chronic conditions, the measurement of outcomes for child health, and mental health issues in primary care. She was a charter member of the board of directors and executive committee of the Center for Child Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Stein is the editor of two books: Caring for Children with Chronic Illness: Issues and Strategies and Health Care for Children: What’s Right What’s Wrong What’s Next, and a co-editor of a third: Managing Adolescent Depression: A Complete Guide for Primary Care Clinicians. She was a member of the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the National Research Council and the NAM, and co-chaired the board’s Committee on the Evaluation of Child Health, which published Children’s Health, The Nation’s Wealth: Assessing and Improving Child Health (2004). She also served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Institute of Health’s Patient- Reported Outcome Measurement Information System Network and the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Stein has a B.A. from Barnard College and an M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Paul A. Volberding
Paul A. Volberding, M.D. is Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); Director of the AIDS Research Institute; and Co-Director of the UCSF-GIVI Center for AIDS Research. For 20 years, Dr. Volberding’s professional activities centered at San Francisco General Hospital, where he established a model program of AIDS care, research, and professional education. His research career began with investigations of HIV-related malignancies but shifted to clinical trials of antiretroviral drugs. He helped lead early studies in asymptomatic infection that led to the concept of HIV disease as the target of treatment. He more recently served as the Chief of Medicine at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Dr. Volberding has written many research and review articles. He is the co-editor- in-chief of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (JAIDS). He has written several textbooks including Sande’s HIV/AIDS Medicine and the companion text, Global Care, specifically for use in resource limited settings. He is the founder and chair of the board of the International Antiviral Society-USA. He was the president of the HIV Medical Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine, now the National Academy of Medicine, in 1999. Dr. Volberding currently serves on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee of Medical Experts to Assist Social Security on Disability Issues and previously chaired the Committee on Social Security HIV Disability Criteria. In 2014 he was elected as a Master of the American College of Physicians. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Chicago and the University of Minnesota, respectively. He completed his fellowship in Medical Oncology at UCSF.
Nanette K. Wenger
Nanette K. Wenger, M.D. is a professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine. She is chief of the cardiac clinics at Grady Memorial Hospital, a consultant to the Emory Heart and Vascular Center, and founding consultant at Emory Women’s Heart Center. Coronary heart disease in women is one of Dr. Wenger’s major clinical and research interests, and she has expertise in cardiac rehabilitation. She has had a longstanding interest in geriatric cardiology, and is a past president of the Society of Geriatric Cardiology and was editor- in-chief of the American Journal of Geriatric Cardiology for 15 years. She serves on the editorial boards of numerous professional journals and is a sought-after lecturer for issues related to heart disease in women, heart disease in the elderly, cardiac rehabilitation, coronary prevention, and contemporary cardiac care. Dr. Wenger has authored or coauthored over 1,600 scientific and review articles and book chapters, and she is listed in Best Doctors in America. She chaired the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Conference on Cardiovascular Health and Disease in Women. She chaired the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Rehabilitation after Cardiovascular Disease, and co-chaired the Guideline Panel on Cardiac Rehabilitation for the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. Dr. Wenger is the recipient of numerous prestigious professional awards. She has participated as an author of several American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association clinical practice guidelines. She is honorary chair of the Hadassah National Physicians’ Council, and past chair, Board of Directors, Society for Women’s Health Research. She chaired the Academies’ Committee on Social Security Cardiovascular Disability Criteria. Dr. Wenger earned an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.
Karl White
Karl White, Ph.D is a Professor of Psychology at Utah State University and the founding Director of the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM). In addition to his teaching and mentoring of graduate students, Dr. White has conducted numerous research projects and has published extensively about the issues and evidence related to implementing and improving the efficacy of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs. Projects currently underway at NCHAM are focused on developing more effective hearing screening and intervention programs through research, improving public health information systems, training and technical assistance, and information dissemination. Dr. White is nationally and internationally recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on early identification and treatment of hearing loss. He has hundreds of publications and presentations at scholarly meetings and has been an invited speaker to 31 countries where he has assisted in the implementation of newborn hearing screening and intervention programs. He also serves on many national and international advisory groups for organizations such as the United States Department of Health and Human Services, March of Dimes, the American College of Medical Genetics, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. White received his B.S. from Brigham Young University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
David Wittenburg
David Wittenburg, Ph.D. is Director of Health Research at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. David Wittenburg is an expert in interventions to promote employment for people with disabilities, particularly interventions that serve youth as they transition into adulthood. He has two decades of experience in evaluation design and program evaluation for several federal agencies. Wittenburg leads business development activities related to disability projects. He recently worked in senior leadership roles on three Social Security Administration demonstration projects, helping to design and implement experimental and nonexperimental approaches to assess the efficacy of return-to-work interventions for people with disabilities. Wittenburg, who joined Mathematica in 2005, presents his findings to diverse research and policy audiences, including in congressional testimony, conference presentations, reports, and journal publications. He edited two special journal volumes on employment topics related to people with disabilities for the IZA Journal of Labor Policy and the Journal of Disability Policy Studies. A member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and formerly a senior associate at the Urban Institute and the Lewin Group, he holds a Ph.D. in economics from Syracuse University.
Karen L. Helsing - (Staff Officer)



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