Employer Disability Practices Center

Disability and remote work during the pandemic with implications for cancer survivors

Purpose

This article examines the extent to which employees worked from home because of the pandemic, focusing on differentials between people with and without disabilities with implications for cancer survivors.

Methods

We use data on COVID-19 from the Current Population Survey over the May 2020 to June 2021 period. We present descriptive statistics and the results from regression and decomposition analysis.

Results

While workers with disabilities were more likely than those without disabilities to be teleworking before the pandemic, they were less likely to be teleworking as a result of the pandemic. Differences in the occupational distribution account for most of this difference. People with disabilities experienced relatively more pandemic-related hardships as well, compared to people without disabilities, including a greater chance of not being able to work due to their employer losing business and more difficulty in accessing medical care.

Conclusions

Many people with disabilities benefit from working from home, and the pandemic has increased employer acceptance of these arrangements, but the potential is limited by the current occupational distribution.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

While the CPS dataset does not have information on cancer survivorship, we use other data to impute that the average likelihood of cancer survivorship is 12.6% among people with disabilities, more than double the 6.1% rate among those without a disability. Hence cancer survivorship is partly picked up by the CPS questions on disability, and our results have implications for cancer survivors, especially because increased opportunities for telework have the potential to help cancer survivors maintain economic stability and avoid financial hardship.