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THE TICKET TO WORK AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM[113]

Sec1148[42 U.S.C. 1320b–19] (a) In General.—The Commissioner shall establish a Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program, under which a disabled beneficiary may use a ticket to work and self-sufficiency issued by the Commissioner in accordance with this section to obtain employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services from an employment network which is of the beneficiary’s choice and which is willing to provide such services to such beneficiary.

(b) Ticket System.—

(1) Distribution of tickets.—The Commissioner may issue a ticket to work and self-sufficiency to disabled beneficiaries for participation in the Program.

(2) Assignment of tickets.—A disabled beneficiary holding a ticket to work and self-sufficiency may assign the ticket to any employment network of the beneficiary’s choice which is serving under the Program and is willing to accept the assignment.

(3) Ticket terms.—A ticket issued under paragraph (1) shall consist of a document which evidences the Commissioner’s agreement to pay (as provided in paragraph (4)) an employment network, which is serving under the Program and to which such ticket is assigned by the beneficiary, for such employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services as the employment network may provide to the beneficiary.

(4) Payments to employment networks.—The Commissioner shall pay an employment network under the Program in accordance with the outcome payment system under subsection (h)(2) or under the outcome-milestone payment system under subsection (h)(3) (whichever is elected pursuant to subsection (h)(1)). An employment network may not request or receive compensation for such services from the beneficiary.

(c) State Participation.—

(1) In general.—Each State agency administering or supervising the administration of the State plan approved under title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 720 et seq.)[114] may elect to participate in the Program as an employment network with respect to a disabled beneficiary. If the State agency does elect to participate in the Program, the State agency also shall elect to be paid under the outcome payment system or the outcome-milestone payment system in accordance with subsection (h)(1). With respect to a disabled beneficiary that the State agency does not elect to have participate in the Program, the State agency shall be paid for services provided to that beneficiary under the system for payment applicable under section 222(d) and subsections (d) and (e) of section 1615. The Commissioner shall provide for periodic opportunities for exercising such elections.

(2) Effect of participation by state agency.—

(A) State agencies participating.—In any case in which a State agency described in paragraph (1) elects under that paragraph to participate in the Program, the employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services which, upon assignment of tickets to work and self-sufficiency, are provided to disabled beneficiaries by the State agency acting as an employment network shall be governed by plans for vocational rehabilitation services approved under title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 720 et seq.)[115].

(B) State agencies administering maternal and child health services programs.—Subparagraph (A) shall not apply with respect to any State agency administering a program under title V of this Act.

(3) Agreements between state agencies and employment networks.—State agencies and employment networks shall enter into agreements regarding the conditions under which services will be provided when an individual is referred by an employment network to a State agency for services. The Commissioner shall establish by regulations the timeframe within which such agreements must be entered into and the mechanisms for dispute resolution between State agencies and employment networks with respect to such agreements.

(d) Responsibilities of the Commissioner.—

(1) Selection and qualifications of program managers.—The Commissioner shall enter into agreements with 1 or more organizations in the private or public sector for service as a program manager to assist the Commissioner in administering the Program. Any such program manager shall be selected by means of a competitive bidding process, from among organizations in the private or public sector with available expertise and experience in the field of vocational rehabilitation or employment services.

(2) Tenure, renewal, and early termination.—Each agreement entered into under paragraph (1) shall provide for early termination upon failure to meet performance standards which shall be specified in the agreement and which shall be weighted to take into account any performance in prior terms. Such performance standards shall include—

(A) measures for ease of access by beneficiaries to services; and

(B) measures for determining the extent to which failures in obtaining services for beneficiaries fall within acceptable parameters, as determined by the Commissioner.

(3) Preclusion from direct participation in delivery of services in own service area.—Agreements under paragraph (1) shall preclude—

(A) direct participation by a program manager in the delivery of employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services to beneficiaries in the service area covered by the program manager’s agreement; and

(B) the holding by a program manager of a financial interest in an employment network or service provider which provides services in a geographic area covered under the program manager’s agreement.

(4) Selection of employment networks.—

(A) In general.—The Commissioner shall select and enter into agreements with employment networks for service under the Program. Such employment networks shall be in addition to State agencies serving as employment networks pursuant to elections under subsection (c).

(B) Alternate participants.—In any State where the Program is being implemented, the Commissioner shall enter into an agreement with any alternate participant that is operating under the authority of section 222(d)(2) in the State as of the date of the enactment of this section and chooses to serve as an employment network under the Program.

(5) Termination of agreements with employment networks.—The Commissioner shall terminate agreements with employment networks for inadequate performance, as determined by the Commissioner.

(6) Quality assurance.—The Commissioner shall provide for such periodic reviews as are necessary to provide for effective quality assurance in the provision of services by employment networks. The Commissioner shall solicit and consider the views of consumers and the program manager under which the employment networks serve and shall consult with providers of services to develop performance measurements. The Commissioner shall ensure that the results of the periodic reviews are made available to beneficiaries who are prospective service recipients as they select employment networks. The Commissioner shall ensure that the periodic surveys of beneficiaries receiving services under the Program are designed to measure customer service satisfaction.

(7) Dispute resolution.—The Commissioner shall provide for a mechanism for resolving disputes between beneficiaries and employment networks, between program managers and employment networks, and between program managers and providers of services. The Commissioner shall afford a party to such a dispute a reasonable opportunity for a full and fair review of the matter in dispute.

(e) Program Managers.—

(1) In general.—A program manager shall conduct tasks appropriate to assist the Commissioner in carrying out the Commissioner’s duties in administering the Program.

(2) Recruitment of employment networks.—A program manager shall recruit, and recommend for selection by the Commissioner, employment networks for service under the Program. The program manager shall carry out such recruitment and provide such recommendations, and shall monitor all employment networks serving in the Program in the geographic area covered under the program manager’s agreement, to the extent necessary and appropriate to ensure that adequate choices of services are made available to beneficiaries. Employment networks may serve under the Program only pursuant to an agreement entered into with the Commissioner under the Program incorporating the applicable provisions of this section and regulations thereunder, and the program manager shall provide and maintain assurances to the Commissioner that payment by the Commissioner to employment networks pursuant to this section is warranted based on compliance by such employment networks with the terms of such agreement and this section. The program manager shall not impose numerical limits on the number of employment networks to be recommended pursuant to this paragraph.

(3) Facilitation of access by beneficiaries to employment networks.—A program manager shall facilitate access by beneficiaries to employment networks. The program manager shall ensure that each beneficiary is allowed changes in employment networks without being deemed to have rejected services under the Program. When such a change occurs, the program manager shall reassign the ticket based on the choice of the beneficiary. Upon the request of the employment network, the program manager shall make a determination of the allocation of the outcome or milestone-outcome payments based on the services provided by each employment network. The program manager shall establish and maintain lists of employment networks available to beneficiaries and shall make such lists generally available to the public. The program manager shall ensure that all information provided to disabled beneficiaries pursuant to this paragraph is provided in accessible formats.

(4) Ensuring availability of adequate services.—The program manager shall ensure that employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services are provided to beneficiaries throughout the geographic area covered under the program manager’s agreement, including rural areas.

(5) Reasonable access to services.—The program manager shall take such measures as are necessary to ensure that sufficient employment networks are available and that each beneficiary receiving services under the Program has reasonable access to employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services. Services provided under the Program may include case management, work incentives planning, supported employment, career planning, career plan development, vocational assessment, job training, placement, follow-up services, and such other services as may be specified by the Commissioner under the Program. The program manager shall ensure that such services are available in each service area.

(f) Employment Networks.—

(1) Qualifications for employment networks.—

(A) In general.—Each employment network serving under the Program shall consist of an agency or instrumentality of a State (or a political subdivision thereof) or a private entity, that assumes responsibility for the coordination and delivery of services under the Program to individuals assigning to the employment network tickets to work and self-sufficiency issued under subsection (b).

(B) One-stop delivery systems.—An employment network serving under the Program may consist of a one-stop delivery system established under subtitle B of title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (29 U.S.C. 2811 et seq.).

(C) Compliance with selection criteria.—No employment network may serve under the Program unless it meets and maintains compliance with both general selection criteria (such as professional and educational qualifications, where applicable) and specific selection criteria (such as substantial expertise and experience in providing relevant employment services and supports).

(D) Single or associated providers allowed.—An employment network shall consist of either a single provider of such services or of an association of such providers organized so as to combine their resources into a single entity. An employment network may meet the requirements of subsection (e)(4) by providing services directly, or by entering into agreements with other individuals or entities providing appropriate employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services.

(2) Requirements relating to provision of services.—Each employment network serving under the Program shall be required under the terms of its agreement with the Commissioner to—

(A) serve prescribed service areas; and

(B) take such measures as are necessary to ensure that employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services provided under the Program by, or under agreements entered into with, the employment network are provided under appropriate individual work plans that meet the requirements of subsection (g).

(3) Annual financial reporting.—Each employment network shall meet financial reporting requirements as prescribed by the Commissioner.

(4) Periodic outcomes reporting.—Each employment network shall prepare periodic reports, on at least an annual basis, itemizing for the covered period specific outcomes achieved with respect to specific services provided by the employment network. Such reports shall conform to a national model prescribed under this section. Each employment network shall provide a copy of the latest report issued by the employment network pursuant to this paragraph to each beneficiary upon enrollment under the Program for services to be received through such employment network. Upon issuance of each report to each beneficiary, a copy of the report shall be maintained in the files of the employment network. The program manager shall ensure that copies of all such reports issued under this paragraph are made available to the public under reasonable terms.

(g) Individual Work Plans.—

(1) Requirements.—Each employment network shall—

(A) take such measures as are necessary to ensure that employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services provided under the Program by, or under agreements entered into with, the employment network are provided under appropriate individual work plans that meet the requirements of subparagraph (C);

(B) develop and implement each such individual work plan, in partnership with each beneficiary receiving such services, in a manner that affords such beneficiary the opportunity to exercise informed choice in selecting an employment goal and specific services needed to achieve that employment goal;

(C) ensure that each individual work plan includes at least—

(i) a statement of the vocational goal developed with the beneficiary, including, as appropriate, goals for earnings and job advancement;

(ii) a statement of the services and supports that have been deemed necessary for the beneficiary to accomplish that goal;

(iii) a statement of any terms and conditions related to the provision of such services and supports; and

(iv) a statement of understanding regarding the beneficiary’s rights under the Program (such as the right to retrieve the ticket to work and self-sufficiency if the beneficiary is dissatisfied with the services being provided by the employment network) and remedies available to the individual, including information on the availability of advocacy services and assistance in resolving disputes through the State grant program authorized under section 1150;

(D) provide a beneficiary the opportunity to amend the individual work plan if a change in circumstances necessitates a change in the plan; and

(E) make each beneficiary’s individual work plan available to the beneficiary in, as appropriate, an accessible format chosen by the beneficiary.

An individual work plan established pursuant to this subsection shall be treated, for purposes of section 51(d)(6)(B)(i) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as an individualized written plan for employment under a State plan for vocational rehabilitation services approved under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

(2) Effective upon written approval.—A beneficiary’s individual work plan shall take effect upon written approval by the beneficiary or a representative of the beneficiary and a representative of the employment network that, in providing such written approval, acknowledges assignment of the beneficiary’s ticket to work and self-sufficiency.

(h) Employment Network Payment Systems.—

(1) Election of payment system by employment networks.—

(A) In general.—The Program shall provide for payment authorized by the Commissioner to employment networks under either an outcome payment system or an outcome-milestone payment system. Each employment network shall elect which payment system will be utilized by the employment network, and, for such period of time as such election remains in effect, the payment system so elected shall be utilized exclusively in connection with such employment network (except as provided in subparagraph (B)).

(B) No change in method of payment for beneficiaries with tickets already assigned to the employment networks.—Any election of a payment system by an employment network that would result in a change in the method of payment to the employment network for services provided to a beneficiary who is receiving services from the employment network at the time of the election shall not be effective with respect to payment for services provided to that beneficiary and the method of payment previously selected shall continue to apply with respect to such services.

(2) Outcome payment system.—

(A) In general.—The outcome payment system shall consist of a payment structure governing employment networks electing such system under paragraph (1)(A) which meets the requirements of this paragraph.

(B) Payments made during outcome payment period.—The outcome payment system shall provide for a schedule of payments to an employment network, in connection with each individual who is a beneficiary, for each month, during the individual’s outcome payment period, for which benefits (described in paragraphs (3) and (4) of subsection (k)) are not payable to such individual because of work or earnings.

(C) Computation of payments to employment network.—The payment schedule of the outcome payment system shall be designed so that—

(i) the payment for each month during the outcome payment period for which benefits (described in paragraphs (3) and (4) of subsection (k)) are not payable is equal to a fixed percentage of the payment calculation base for the calendar year in which such month occurs; and

(ii) such fixed percentage is set at a percentage which does not exceed 40 percent.

(3) Outcome–milestone payment system.—

(A) In general.—The outcome–milestone payment system shall consist of a payment structure governing employment networks electing such system under paragraph (1)(A) which meets the requirements of this paragraph.

(B) Early payments upon attainment of milestones in advance of outcome payment periods.—The outcome-milestone payment system shall provide for 1 or more milestones, with respect to beneficiaries receiving services from an employment network under the Program, that are directed toward the goal of permanent employment. Such milestones shall form a part of a payment structure that provides, in addition to payments made during outcome payment periods, payments made prior to outcome payment periods in amounts based on the attainment of such milestones.

(C) Limitation on total payments to employment network.—The payment schedule of the outcome milestone payment system shall be designed so that the total of the payments to the employment network with respect to each beneficiary is less than, on a net present value basis (using an interest rate determined by the Commissioner that appropriately reflects the cost of funds faced by providers), the total amount to which payments to the employment network with respect to the beneficiary would be limited if the employment network were paid under the outcome payment system.

(4) Definitions.—In this subsection:

(A) Payment calculation base.—The term “payment calculation base” means, for any calendar year—

(i) in connection with a title II disability beneficiary, the average disability insurance benefit payable under section 223 for all beneficiaries for months during the preceding calendar year; and

(ii) in connection with a title XVI disability beneficiary (who is not concurrently a title II disability beneficiary), the average payment of supplemental security income benefits based on disability payable under title XVI (excluding State supplementation) for months during the preceding calendar year to all beneficiaries who have attained 18 years of age but have not attained 65 years of age.

(B) Outcome payment period.—The term “outcome payment period” means, in connection with any individual who had assigned a ticket to work and self-sufficiency to an employment network under the Program, a period—

(i) beginning with the first month, ending after the date on which such ticket was assigned to the employment network, for which benefits (described in paragraphs (3) and (4) of subsection (k)) are not payable to such individual by reason of engagement in substantial gainful activity or by reason of earnings from work activity; and

(ii) ending with the 60th month (consecutive or otherwise), ending after such date, for which such benefits are not payable to such individual by reason of engagement in substantial gainful activity or by reason of earnings from work activity.

(5) Periodic review and alterations of prescribed schedules.—

(A) Percentages and periods.—The Commissioner shall periodically review the percentage specified in paragraph (2)(C), the total payments permissible under paragraph (3)(C), and the period of time specified in paragraph (4)(B) to determine whether such percentages, such permissible payments, and such period provide an adequate incentive for employment networks to assist beneficiaries to enter the workforce, while providing for appropriate economies. The Commissioner may alter such percentage, such total permissible payments, or such period of time to the extent that the Commissioner determines, on the basis of the Commissioner’s review under this paragraph, that such an alteration would better provide the incentive and economies described in the preceding sentence.

(B) Number and amounts of milestone payments.—The Commissioner shall periodically review the number and amounts of milestone payments established by the Commissioner pursuant to this section to determine whether they provide an adequate incentive for employment networks to assist beneficiaries to enter the workforce, taking into account information provided to the Commissioner by program managers, the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel established by section 101(f) of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, and other reliable sources. The Commissioner may from time to time alter the number and amounts of milestone payments initially established by the Commissioner pursuant to this section to the extent that the Commissioner determines that such an alteration would allow an adequate incentive for employment networks to assist beneficiaries to enter the workforce. Such alteration shall be based on information provided to the Commissioner by program managers, the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel established by section 101(f) of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999[116], or other reliable sources.

(C) Report on the adequacy of incentives.—The Commissioner shall submit to the Congress not later than 36 months after the date of the enactment of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 a report with recommendations for a method or methods to adjust payment rates under subparagraphs (A) and (B), that would ensure adequate incentives for the provision of services by employment networks of—

(i) individuals with a need for ongoing support and services;

(ii) individuals with a need for high–cost accommodations;

(iii) individuals who earn a subminimum wage; and

(iv) individuals who work and receive partial cash benefits.

The Commissioner shall consult with the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel established under section 101(f) of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 during the development and evaluation of the study. The Commissioner shall implement the necessary adjusted payment rates prior to full implementation of the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program.

(i) Suspension of Disability Reviews.—During any period for which an individual is using, as defined by the Commissioner, a ticket to work and self-sufficiency issued under this section, the Commissioner (and any applicable State agency) may not initiate a continuing disability review or other review under section 221 of whether the individual is or is not under a disability or a review under title XVI similar to any such review under section 221.

(j) Authorizations.—

(1) Payments to employment networks.—

(A) Title ii disability beneficiaries.—There are authorized to be transferred from the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund each fiscal year such sums as may be necessary to make payments to employment networks under this section. Money paid from the Trust Funds under this section with respect to title II disability beneficiaries who are entitled to benefits under section 223 or who are entitled to benefits under section 202(d) on the basis of the wages and self-employment income of such beneficiaries, shall be charged to the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, and all other money paid from the Trust Funds under this section shall be charged to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund.

(B) Title xvi disability beneficiaries.—Amounts authorized to be appropriated to the Social Security Administration under section 1601 (as in effect pursuant to the amendments made by section 301 of the Social Security Amendments of 1972) shall include amounts necessary to carry out the provisions of this section with respect to title XVI disability beneficiaries.

(2) Administrative expenses.—The costs of administering this section (other than payments to employment networks) shall be paid from amounts made available for the administration of title II and amounts made available for the administration of title XVI, and shall be allocated among such amounts as appropriate.

(k) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) Commissioner.—The term “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Social Security.

(2) Disabled beneficiary.—The term “disabled beneficiary” means a title II disability beneficiary or a title XVI disability beneficiary.

(3) Title ii disability beneficiary.—The term “title II disability beneficiary” means an individual entitled to disability insurance benefits under section 223 or to monthly insurance benefits under section 202 based on such individual’s disability (as defined in section 223(d)). An individual is a title II disability beneficiary for each month for which such individual is entitled to such benefits.

(4) Title xvi disability beneficiary.—The term “title XVI disability beneficiary” means an individual eligible for supplemental security income benefits under title XVI on the basis of blindness (within the meaning of section 1614(a)(2)) or disability (within the meaning of section 1614(a)(3)). An individual is a title XVI disability beneficiary for each month for which such individual is eligible for such benefits.

(5) Supplemental security income benefit.—The term “supplemental security income benefit under title XVI” means a cash benefit under section 1611 or 1619(a), and does not include a State supplementary payment, administered federally or otherwise.

(l) Regulations.—Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, the Commissioner shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to carry out the provisions of this section.


[113]  See Vol. II, P.L. 106-170, §2, with respect to Congress’s findings and purposes with regard to providing assistance to individuals with disabilities to lead productive work lives; §101(d), with respect to the graduated implementation of the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program; §101(e), with respect to specific regulations required to implement the amendments made by §101; and §101(f) with respect to the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel.

[114]  P.L. 93-112.

[115]  P.L. 93-112.

[116]  See Vol. II, P.L. 106-170, §101(f).