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One-Stop Career Centers and the New Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program: Access for All in Workforce Development

OneStops.info Brief 2

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Originally published: 8/2002

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A Publication from the National Center on Workforce and Disability

Table of Contents

Under the Workforce Investment Act, One-Stop Career Centers must be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. Under the One-Stop service delivery system, One-Stop partners, including State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies (State VR agencies) collaborate to create a seamless system of service delivery that will enhance access to services and supports and improve long-term employment outcomes for individuals receiving assistance, including individuals with disabilities.

In December 2001, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) published in the Federal Register final regulations implementing the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency program (Ticket to Work program). The regulations are effective as of January 28, 2002.

The purpose of the Ticket to Work program is to expand the universe of service providers to include, among others, One-Stop Career Centers. The expansion of service providers will enhance the range of choices available to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who are seeking employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services to assist them in finding, entering, and retaining self-supporting employment.

In a nutshell, the Ticket to Work program offers One-Stop Career Centers an additional potential funding source to meet the needs of customers with disabilities for long-term successful employment. However, it is important to note that One-Stop Career Centers and other service providers get paid by SSA a specified amount only when individuals with disabilities are no longer entitled to SSI or SSDI cash benefits because of work or earnings.

The purpose of this edition of OneStops.info is twofold. First, it provides an overview of the major provisions in the final regulations implementing the Ticket to Work program. [A comprehensive description of the final regulations is set out in a separate Policy Brief from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on State Systems at the Institute for Community Inclusion entitled Final Regulations Implementing the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program (The Ticket to Work Program), Volume 4, Number 1, March 2002.] Second, it describes the policy tradeoffs and other factors a One-Stop Career Center may want to consider before determining whether and how to get involved in this new program.

Overview of the Major Provisions in the Ticket to Work Program

What is the purpose of the Ticket to Work program?

The purpose of the Ticket to Work program is to expand the universe of service providers and thereby enhance the range of choices available to SSDI and SSI beneficiaries who are disabled or blind to assist them in finding, entering, and retaining self-supporting employment. Expanded opportunities for these individuals will also increase the likelihood that they will reduce or eliminate their dependency on SSDI and SSI cash benefits.

Is the Ticket to Work program in effect in my state?

The new Ticket to Work program is being phased into operation on a gradual basis at sites selected by the Commissioner of SSA. The first group of states (Phase I) began implementation in February 2002. These states are Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Phase II will be implemented later in calendar year 2002. Phase II states are Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Phase III will be implemented in calendar year 2003. Phase III states are Alabama, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Phase III also includes Puerto Rico and the Trust Territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands.

What is a Ticket?

The new Ticket to Work program provides Tickets to every individual who meets eligibility criteria established by the Commissioner. A Ticket is a document issued by SSA that provides evidence of the Commissioners commitment to make payments of specified amounts to service providers (the technical term is employment network) such as One-Stop Career Centers or a State Vocational Rehabilitation agency (State VR agency) to which a SSI or SSDI beneficiaries Ticket has been assigned.

Who is eligible to receive a Ticket?

In general, all SSI and SSDI disability federal cash beneficiaries age 18 through 64 are eligible for a Ticket except beneficiaries whose conditions are expected to improve and who have not had at least one continuing disability review (i.e., a review process conducted by SSA to determine whether current SSI disability and SSDI beneficiaries remain disabled under the Social Security Act), beneficiaries who have not attained age 18, and childhood SSI beneficiaries who have attained age 18 but who have not had a redetermination under the adult disability standard (i.e., the disability standard for adults to receive SSI benefits, which is different from the disability standard for children who receive SSI).

Is participation in the Ticket to Work program voluntary or mandatory?

Participation in the Ticket to Work program is voluntary. The Ticket may be used to obtain vocational rehabilitation, employment, and other support services. The beneficiary holding a Ticket may assign the Ticket to any employment network (e.g., One-Stop Career Center) of his/her choice that is willing to accept the assignment or to the State VR agency if the disabled beneficiary is eligible to receive State VR services.

Can a beneficiary switch employment networks?

Yes. A beneficiary can retrieve the Ticket from the employment network or the State VR agency at any time and can reassign the Ticket to another employment network or the State VR agency if he/she remains eligible for a Ticket. However, an employment network also has the right to discharge a beneficiary from its services at any time if it believes the individual is not making sufficient progress towards employment goals.

Who manages the new Ticket to Work program?

The Commissioner of SSA has entered into a contract with a Program Manager that will be responsible for assisting the Commissioner in administering the Ticket to Work program. SSA has selected MAXIMUS, Inc. to serve as the Program Manager for the entire country. The Program Managers responsibilities include: recruiting and monitoring employment networks, facilitating beneficiary access to employment networks, facilitating payments to employment networks, and resolving disputes among stakeholders. MAXIMUS has developed a website about the Ticket to Work Program: www.yourtickettowork.com.

In addition to One-Stop Career Centers, what other entities may become employment networks?

In addition to One-Stop Career Centers, employment networks may include qualified state agencies (including State VR agencies, Medicaid agencies, and agencies serving persons with mental retardation, developmental disabilities, and mental illness), local agencies, public schools, public and private colleges and universities, and private entities (including community rehabilitation providers, employers, and nontraditional providers). An employment network can be a single entity or an association of entities. The employment network can provide services directly or through contract or other arrangement with other entities.

Must employment networks meet minimum qualifications?

All employment networks must meet minimum qualifications based on general criteria (e.g., physical and program accessibility) and specific criteria (e.g., licensure or accreditation if applicable, or demonstration of sufficient education or experience to deliver services). Any entity must have applicable certificates, licenses, or other credentials if state law requires such documentation.

What are the employment networks responsibilities, including reporting requirements?

The employment network is responsible for coordination and delivery of employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services. The employment network must report, among other things, information to assist the Program Manager in determining whether an individual is making timely progress and information about a beneficiarys work activity and earnings.

The employment network must ensure that services provided under the Ticket to Work program are provided under an appropriate Individual Work Plan developed and implemented in partnership with each beneficiary receiving services. Similarly, the State VR agency must ensure that services provided under the Ticket to Work program are provided under an appropriate Individualized Plan for Employment (required by Title I of the Rehabilitation Act) developed and implemented in partnership with each beneficiary receiving services.

Overview of Payment Systems

When and how does SSA pay an employment network?

The Commissioner pays the employment network under one of two systems:

When responding to the RFP, the employment network chooses which payment system it wishes to be compensated under for all individuals it chooses to serve under the Ticket to Work program. Periodic opportunities will be provided to employment networks to change the payment system they are using.

Are the amounts of outcome and outcome-milestone payments adjusted annually?

Yes. The payment systems will be adjusted annually, based on recalculation of the previous years national average monthly SSDI or SSI cash benefits for all beneficiaries and annual adjustments in the SGA amount.

May an employment network use other sources of funding for which an individual may be eligible in combination with funding from the Ticket to Work?

Yes. There is nothing in the regulations that prohibits an employment network from supplementing the funding received from the Ticket to Work program with other sources (e.g., WIA Title I funds, training funds, etc.) in order to meet the needs of an individual. However, an employment network may not request or receive compensation for services from the beneficiary. Also, other funding sources would have to allow such blending of funding.

Outcome Payment System

Under the outcome payment system, an employment network can receive a monthly payment over a period not to exceed 60 months (which do not have to be consecutive) for every month the beneficiary does not receive cash benefits due to work/earnings. The payment rate is based on 40% of the national average monthly SSDI or SSI cash benefit for all beneficiaries.

2002 Outcome Payments - SSDI:

Using calendar year 2002 figures, under the outcome payment system, an employment network could be paid the following amounts for SSDI beneficiaries (including concurrent SSI recipients):

2002 Outcome Payments - SSI:

Using the calendar year 2002 figures, under the outcome payment system, the employment network could be paid the following amounts for SSI recipients:

Outcome-Milestone Payment System

Under the outcome-milestone payment system, the total amount payable to an employment network is about 85 percent of the total potentially payable under the outcome payment system for the same beneficiary. This total payment consists of two partspayments for milestones and payments for outcomes.

An employment network can receive payment for up to four milestones. The four milestones an employment network may receive occur after the Ticket is first assigned and the beneficiary starts to work and before the beneficiary attains any outcome payment months or the Ticket terminates:

If an employment network receives milestone payments with respect to a Ticket, each outcome payment it receives will be reduced by an amount equal to 1/60 of the milestone payments received, rounded to the nearest cent.

2002 Outcome-Milestone Payments - SSDI:

Using calendar year 2002 figures, and assuming that once an individual begins working he/she will attain all four milestones in one year and then the 60 outcome payment months during the next five years, an employment network could receive the following payments for SSDI beneficiaries (including concurrent SSI recipients):

Thus, in year one, the total milestone payments would equal $3,230. Then, in each of the following 5 years, the outcome payments would equal $2,582.04, for a 5-year total of $12,910.20. Adding the milestone and outcome payments together, the total payment would be $16,140.20 over 6 years.

2002 Outcome-Milestone Payments - SSI:

Using calendar year 2002 figures, and assuming that once an individual begins working he/she will attain all four milestones in one year and then 60 outcome paymen

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