Partnership Plus Agreements
Partnership Plus agreements are generally designed to address different phases in the State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency's service delivery process and different aspects of partnering with Employment Networks (EN). Some have a single purpose while others are designed to address multiple purposes. Common features found in these agreements include provisions:
- Requiring all beneficiaries to be informed about the Ticket program, the right to take the ticket to a provider of choice, and the option to assign the ticket to an EN after VR case closure to receive ongoing support after job placement.
- Designed to create smooth transitions from VR's pre-employment and placement services to an EN's ongoing employment support. Some states also use referral forms to facilitate these transitions.
- Promoting informed choice by addressing a beneficiary's right to choose among available ENs for ongoing support after job placement.
- Addressing the coordination of services listed in the beneficiary's Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) with the ongoing support services outlined in the beneficiary's Individual Work Plan (IWP). These provisions may also address how the comparable benefits provisions in the VR regulations will be implemented. State VR agencies are not required to provide specific services if comparable services and benefits are available through a different funding source. The ticket may be viewed as a comparable benefit if a needed service is available through an EN that has the beneficiary's ticket assignment.
- Facilitating access to employment counseling that includes consultation with certified work incentives planners. Evidence suggests that access to timely and accurate information on Social Security work incentives is one of the most critical factors contributing to long-term employment for beneficiaries.
- Creating formal referral mechanisms designed to provide beneficiaries on a wait-list for VR services (under an Order of Selection) the option of seeking assistance from an EN. These provisions can range from simply notifying beneficiaries about the availability of EN services, to formal referral mechanisms between the two agencies, to provisions addressing the EN un-assigning the ticket when the beneficiary is being taken off the VR agency's wait-list and moved into service status.
- Establishing procedures for sharing information on beneficiary service needs, earnings, etc., contingent on the beneficiary's signed consent. Signed releases typically address the exact information to be shared and how that information will be used.
- Offering post-employment benchmark payments to ENs that provide ongoing support after VR case closure that results in the beneficiary achieving specified outcomes in terms of work and earnings. These payments offer ENs some compensation for the loss of Phase 1 milestones when a beneficiary's VR case was closed successful. Benchmark payments generally fall into three categories.
- Standard fee-for-service post-employment payments made to a service provider as compensation for providing specific types of services. These agreements typically establish the number of hours of a particular service or set of services approved for payment and set an hourly or unit rate for these services.
- Post-employment benchmark payments: These payments are designed to provide payment to an EN when the ongoing support the EN provides results in the beneficiary achieving multiple months of SGA level earnings. For example, a benchmark payment of $1000 is available when the EN's services result in the beneficiary achieving 8 months of SGA level earnings. The assumption is that the beneficiary will continue working at this level for at least one more month, allowing the VR agency to submit for reimbursement. Making this type of post-employment payment after the 8th month of SGA level earnings allows the VR agency to include the payment in its CR claim as payment for post-employment services. A couple of states provide two benchmark payments.
- A combination of fee-for-service post-employment payments and a benchmark payment.