Payments Under the Ticket to Work Program

Payment under the Ticket to Work (Ticket) program is different than most other Federal programs. Employment Networks (ENs) are paid for helping Ticket Holders reach certain earnings milestones rather than reimbursing ENs for services provided. The Ticket program is an outcome-based employment program administered by the Social Security Administration. The goal of employment service providers participating in the Ticket program should be to assist people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits on the basis of disability, referred to jointly as disability beneficiaries, attain self-sufficiency through work, i.e., sustained work at or above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level. SGA for 2014 is earnings of $1,070/month for Ticket Holders with disabilities other than blindness and $1,800/month for Ticket Holders who are blind or visually impaired.

Revenue under the Ticket program is received by organizations that participate when an eligible Social Security disability beneficiary, referred to as a Ticket Holder, achieves employment-related milestones and/or outcomes. Approved ENs submit requests for payments based on the earnings and Federal benefit status of Ticket Holders who have assigned their Tickets to the EN. At the time the organization completes the EN Request for Quotation (RFQ), the EN must choose between two options for receiving payment: the Outcome Payment system or the Outcome/Milestone Payment system. Once Social Security approves an EN Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA), the EN may choose to make one change in its elected payment system at any time during each calendar year. Any change in the elected EN payment system will apply to Ticket assignments after the EN's change in election becomes effective. The EN's earlier elected payment system will continue to apply to all Tickets assigned prior to the change in election.

When earned, milestone and outcome payments are direct deposited into an EN's bank account. These funds represent unrestricted revenue for the EN because Social Security does not place any requirements or restrictions on how ENs use revenue generated under the Ticket program.

As an EN, Social Security expects that your organization will provide employment support services that afford Ticket holders the opportunity and support to prepare for, obtain and retain career ladder jobs that will realistically enable them to leave and remain off federal cash benefits. It is likewise important to understand that in helping disability beneficiaries on the road to self-sufficiency your EN must offer the types of opportunities and supports that will enable a Ticket Holder to achieve financial independence. Therefore, it is unacceptable for an EN to limit its business model to assisting Ticket Holders to engage in part time employment only. ENs that purposefully engage in such practices will be terminated.

Download the complete Guide to Payments in the Resource Documents page of the Information Center.

Outcome Payments

Under the Outcome payment system, an EN can submit a request for payment when a Ticket Holder's earnings meet or exceed the amount Social Security designates as SGA and the Ticket Holder enters the zero cash benefit status (i.e., is no longer eligible for a federal monthly disability check). As with the Milestone/Outcome payment system, Social Security uses two monthly SGA amounts depending on the type of disability: $1,040/month for individuals with disabilities other than blindness and $1,740/month for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

In 2014, an EN that has chosen the Outcome payment system and is successful in getting a Ticket Holder on SSDI to zero cash benefit status will receive $758 a month for each month the Ticket Holder stays off cash benefits for up to 36 months (totaling $27,288). For a Ticket Holder on SSI, the EN would receive $436 a month for up to 60 months (totaling $26,160).

Milestone-Outcome Payments

Under the Milestone-Outcome payment system, Social Security pays an EN when a Ticket Holder attains certain Milestones and Outcomes in moving toward self-supporting employment. This payment option offers two sets of Milestone payments: Phase I and Phase II.

The complete listing of payments can be found in the Resource Documents page of the Information Center.

Phase I Milestone Payments
Phase I Milestones are based on a Ticket Holder's gross earnings. Although Social Security can pay an EN for up to four Milestones achieved by a beneficiary after he or she assigns a Ticket to an EN, there are certain factors that can impact an EN's eligibility for Phase 1 Milestone payments. First, all Phase I Milestones require that the beneficiary work at or above the Trial Work Level (TWL) earnings amount. Second, the work must be associated with a real job. Consequently, paid vocational training with no record of continued TWL employment will not meet the criteria for payment. Third, no Phase I Milestone payments will be available to the EN if the beneficiary was previously served by a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency under the Cost Reimbursement program and was working at the time the VR case was closed. Fourth, Phase I Milestone payments may not be available to an EN if the beneficiary achieved the Milestone within the most recent 18-month period prior to the Ticket assignment.

The work and earnings that trigger all Phase I Milestone payments are cumulative, meaning TWL earnings that count toward one Phase I Milestone payment also count toward the next one.

Phase II Milestone Payments
Phase II Milestones are also based on the Ticket Holder's gross earnings. In order for the EN to continue invoicing the Ticket program after the Phase I Milestones have been reached, the Ticket Holder must have gross monthly earnings that exceed Social Security's SGA level. If this earnings level is met, and as long as the Ticket Holder continues to work and earn at this level, the EN can invoice the Ticket program for Phase II Milestone payments.

Outcome Payments
Outcome payments are available to an EN if the Ticket Holder continues working, has net monthly earnings that exceed SGA, and enters zero cash benefit status because of work or earnings. If these criteria are met, the EN can submit a request for payment each month for up to 36 months for SSDI beneficiaries or up to 60 months for SSI. When a Ticket Holder is dually eligible for both SSDI and SSI, the EN is paid at the higher SSDI rate.

Reconciliation Payments
If a Ticket Holder moves into the Outcome payment phase before an EN receives all of the available Milestone payments, there is a reconciliation payment made at the time the 12th Outcome payment is made. This one-time lump sum payment would be equal to any unpaid Milestone payments that would otherwise have been available to the EN with the Ticket assignment.

Important Reminders

Total EN payments depend on many variables and differ among Ticket Holders. Social Security determined that Phase I Milestone payments will be awarded based on an EN providing initial services, including job placement, that lead to employment. This means that one or more of the Phase I Milestones may not always be available to an EN. Two situations that can impact the availability of Phase I Milestones are:

  1. Partnership Plus: When a State VR agency serves a beneficiary under the Partnership Plus option, the beneficiary may initially receive VR services to meet his or her intensive up-front service needs and, after the VR case is closed, the Ticket Holder may assign the Ticket to an EN and receive job retention services or ongoing support services. While the EN has the potential to earn Phase II Milestone and Outcome payments, the Phase I Milestone payments are not available to the EN if VR closed the case with the beneficiary in employment. Social Security has additional information regarding Partnership Plus.
  2. Recent Work Rule: If a Ticket Holder worked with earnings at or above the Trial Work Level during the 18 months prior to assigning his or her Ticket to an EN, the four Phase I Milestones may or may not be available to the EN depending on when the work occurred. The 18 Month Lookback Tool can be used to explore a Ticket Holder's recent work history and can be found in the Resource Documents page of the Information Center.

Visit the Information Center for additional information about payment options.