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The Ticket to Work Question and Answer Sheet

(2001)
Mitch Jeserich
(mitch@wid.org)
Policy Analyst

formerly of California Work Incentives Initiative, World Institute on Disability

3075 Adeline Street, Suite 280, Berkeley, CA 94703


This pamphlet is based on the Notice of Public Rule Making issued on December 28th, 2000. The regulations for the Ticket Program are in the public comment period which ends on February 26th, 2001. For more information on the Ticket Program and the public comment period, please go to www.wid.org.

An Overview of the Ticket to Work Program

The Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act (TWWIIA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on December 17, 1999. The Ticket to Work portion of the Act creates a choice for SSI and/or SSDI beneficiaries of where to receive employment training services. The Ticket to Work is an entitlement for SSI and/or SSDI beneficiaries and is not mandatory.

In the past, persons on SSI and/or SSDI benefits went through the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) for employment training. And though persons can still use VR services for vocational training, the Ticket to Work allows SSI/SSDI beneficiaries to choose from many more sources, known as Employment Networks, to get these employment services. An Employment Network, approved by The Social Security Administration, can be any agency, private company, or state entity.

The Employment Network will be paid for 60 months that the beneficiary is off of cash benefits. During the duration of the Ticket, a beneficiary is protected from Continuing Disability Reviews. To maintain these protections, the Ticket User must show progress towards employment.

The Ticket Program will begin in 13 states in year 2001. In the following two years, the remaining states will be included on the Ticket Program. The first 13 states are Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South
Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Questions and Answers

1. What is the Ticket to Work?

The Ticket to Work is a documented agreement that The Social Security Administration will pay an Employment Network (an agency or company providing employment training) for employment training services to SSI/SSDI beneficiaries who choose to use the Ticket to Work Program.

2. Who is a disabled beneficiary?

A beneficiary is a person who is on SSI and/or SSDI benefits.

3. Who can use a ticket?

A person is eligible to use The Ticket to Work if s/he receives SSI and/or SSDI benefits and is between the age of 18 and 65 years.

Except for those beneficiaries whom The Social Security Administration expects to medically improve (MIE) when first awarded benefits. The beneficiaries in this category have to wait until after the first Continuing Disability Review (CDR), and still be considered disabled, to be eligible for the Ticket to Work Program.

4. What is an Employment Network?

An Employment Network is any qualified agency, private company, or state agency that has entered into an agreement with The Social Security Administration to coordinate and deliver employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services to beneficiaries.

5. What do I do when I receive a ticket?

Ticket program information will be distributed to you when your state begins the Ticket to Work Program. Your participation in the program is voluntary. If you want to participate in the program, you can take your ticket to any Employment Network or VR agency that agrees to provide you with services.

6. Do I have to stay with an Employment Network or a VR agency?

No. If you are dissatisfied with the services being provided, you can retrieve your ticket. Also, you may reassign your ticket to another Employment Network or VR agency.

7. How do I get started with an Employment Network?

When the Ticket to Work Program comes to your state, you will be mailed the necessary information concerning local Employment Networks. Then you and the Employment Network of your choice will need to agree upon an individualized work plan (IWP). If you choose to use your ticket with a VR agency, then you and VR will need to agree on an individualized plan for employment (IPE).

8. When does the period of using the ticket begin?

The ticket begins on the date of the assignment of your ticket to an Employment Network or a VR agency.

9. When does my period of using a ticket end?

Your use of the ticket ends when you are off cash benefits and after the EN is paid by Social Security for the 60th month after you end benefits.

10. Will my participation in The Ticket to Work Program trigger Continuing Disability Reviews?

No. As long as you are making timely progress towards employment, you will be protected from Continuing Disability Reviews.

11. What is timely progress toward employment?

You are considered to be making timely progress towards employment when you show an increasing ability to work at levels which will reduce or eliminate your dependence on cash benefits.

During the first 24 months of your ticket, you must be actively participating in your employment plan. During your third year, you must work for at least 3 months in a 12-month period. During the 4th year, you must work at least 6 months in a 12- month period.

If you are not making timely progress towards employment, you can still use the ticket as long as the Continuing Disability Reviews demonstrate that you are still disabled.

12. What if my Employment Network, the VR agency, or I report that I am not actively participating in my employment plan?

The program manager will give you the choice of resuming participation in your employment plan or placing your ticket in an inactive status. You are not considered to be using a ticket during the months in which your ticket is inactive. The months in which your ticket is inactive do not count toward the time limitations for making timely progress toward employment.

If you choose to resume active participation in your employment program, you will be allowed 3 months to demonstrate active participation according to your employment plan.

13. What if I disagree with the reports that I am not making timely progress toward employment?

You may request that The Social Security Administration review the decision. You must make the request before the 30th day after the date which the Program Manager sent its notice to you. Then, The Social Security Administration will consider you to be making timely progress towards employment until it makes a decision.

14. What is a Program Manager?

A Program Manager (PM) is an organization in the private or public sector that has entered into an agreement to assist The Social Security Administration in administering the Ticket to Work program.

The Social Security Administration has selected the for-profit organization Maximus to manage the Ticket Program nationally.

15. Is there a process to resolve a dispute my between my Employment Network and I?

Yes. Dispute resolution has three steps:

  1. You can seek a solution through the EN's internal grievance procedures.
  2. If the EN's internal grievance procedures do not result in an agreeable solution, either you or the Employment Network may seek a resolution from the Program Manager.
  3. If either you or the Employment Network is dissatisfied with the resolution proposed by the Program Manager, then you or the EN may request a decision from the Social Security Administration.

It is not required that you or the Employment Network go through a dispute resolution. If you are dissatisfied with the services being provided, you can retrieve your ticket at any time. Also, you may reassign your ticket to another Employment Network or VR agency.

16. Can I have legal representation during a dispute?

Yes. Protection and Advocacy Inc. will be offering legal services to people with disabilities who are either using the Ticket to Work Program or who are interested in using the Program. Protection and Advocacy Inc. will solely represent the beneficiary and will not function as a mediator between the beneficiary and the Employment Network or Program Manager. A beneficiary can request Protection and Advocacy Inc. services during any time a beneficiary is using the ticket, when a beneficiary would like to begin using the ticket, or when a beneficiary returns to using the ticket if the ticket became inactive.

PAI works in partnership with people with disabilities - to protect, advocate for and advance their human, legal and service rights.