An Administrative EN is a group of service providers, ENs and/or non-ENs, who combine resources to act as a single EN. The network is administered by an EN of Record. The EN of Record responds to the EN Request for Quotation (RFQ), signs the EN Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA), and ensures that all service providers participating in the Administrative EN meet the requirements of the Ticket program. A written agreement usually defines the roles and duties of the service providers, including the EN of Record. It describes how the network will make Ticket assignments and how the EN of Record will distribute payments and be compensated for assuming key administrative functions. To learn more about Administrative ENs, visit the Administrative ENs page. To learn more about Administrative EN models, visit the Administrative EN Models page.
AIVRS projects are governing bodies, or consortia of governing bodies, of Native American tribes located on Federal and State reservations funded under Section 121 of Part C of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. AIVRS projects receive grants from the U.S. Department of Education's Rehabilitation Services Administration. The grants are to provide vocational rehabilitation services to Native Americans who live on or near such reservations and have disabilities.
AIVRS projects may participate in the Ticket program as Employment Networks (ENs). Under the Ticket program regulations, they are deemed to have met all qualifications and requirements for award of an EN Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA).
The ADA provides civil rights protection to persons with disabilities similar to those provided based on race, color, sex, national origin, age and religion. The ADA guarantees persons with disabilities equal opportunity in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. To learn more about the ADA, visit http://www.ada.gov/.
The APOR is a yearly report that Employment Networks (ENs) are required to provide to the Ticket Program Manager (TPM). It is written in a format prescribed by Social Security and the TPM. The APOR reports yearly EN performance and outcomes. It allows the EN to update contact information. The APOR is used together with beneficiary satisfaction data to complete the EN Profile.
The EN profiles, which help beneficiaries choose among ENs, are posted at http://www.chooseworkttw.net/findhelp/.
AWICs are Social Security employees who specialize in Social Security's Work Incentives and employment support programs. Each AWIC serves a specific geographic area. The AWIC manages and coordinates training on Work Incentives, conducts public outreach and provides support to beneficiaries with disabilities who want to work. ENs may want to contact their local AWIC to learn of or coordinate outreach events in their area. To find your local AWIC, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/regions/. Click your region. Then click the "Area Work Incentive Coordinator" link.
The Ticket to Work attainment month is the month the requirement is met to pay, deny or diary (mark as pending) an Employment Network's request for payment. The attainment month is also called a "claim month."
A beneficiary is a person who receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits based on disability. A beneficiary who receives both SSDI and SSI benefits is "dually entitled" or a "concurrent beneficiary." Most adult beneficiaries 18 through 64 years old qualify to participate in the Ticket program.
The beneficiary contact is the person the Employment Network (EN) designates as responsibility for exchanging beneficiary Personally Identifiable Information (PII) with the Social Security Administration and the Ticket Program Manager (TPM). This includes exchanging Social Security Numbers (SSNs) to assign and unassign Tickets, request and receive payments and conduct other Ticket to Work administration processes.
Because the beneficiary contact must exchange PII with Social Security and the TPM, the contact must go through Social Security's suitability clearance and be deemed suitable to fulfill these responsibilities. Depending on the size of the EN, the contact may have other responsibilities such as intake, job placement and long-term employment supports.
For recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the benefit cessation month is the first month of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level earnings during the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). It is the month cash benefits stop. Social Security will continue to pay benefits for the first month of SGA cessation plus the next two months. This three-month period is known as the Grace Period. Cash benefits may be reinstated without a new application while a person is still in the EPE.
The BOND project was authorized under the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Act of 1999. Its purpose is to test the use of a benefit offset rule based on earnings as an alternative to certain rules that Social Security currently uses in connection with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries who work.
The project is being conducted in several states. It is designed to determine whether the availability of a benefit offset, alone or with enhanced benefits counseling services, will encourage SSDI beneficiaries to return to work or increase their earnings.
Under the benefit offset rule, Social Security reduces a BOND participant's SSDI benefits by $1 for every $2 that the beneficiary earns above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount. This benefit offset allows the participating beneficiary to receive reduced SSDI benefits after Social Security would normally stop monthly disability benefits or would end disability benefit entitlement under the current rules due to the beneficiary's work and earnings.
This one-for-two offset is similar to the one-for-two offset that currently applies to benefits under the SSI program. Although there is a small number of participants, some ENs have already accepted or are being asked to accept Ticket assignments from BOND participants. Because the BOND project was set up using systems and application support services outside of Social Security's systems, Ticket payments on behalf of BOND participants must be processed manually.
For beneficiaries who have been assigned to the group receiving specialized support services in this study, Social Security will waive the requirement that cash benefits must be suspended for a participating beneficiary to qualify an EN for outcome payments. Instead, Social Security will pay properly documented EN claims for outcome payments if the person's benefits would have been suspended or terminated because of SGA under current rules. To learn more about the BOND program, visit http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/offsetnational.htm.
The BPQY is a planning tool. It is used by Social Security employees, beneficiaries and their representatives, Employment Networks (ENs), and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies. It is used to review and verify a person's disability benefits and work status based on information stored in Social Security's electronic records.
The BPQY gives the status of the beneficiary's disability cash benefits, health insurance, scheduled medical reviews, representative payee (if applicable), work history, etc. It provides information on the Social Security Work Incentive programs the beneficiary is accessing. Analysis of BPQY information can be a first step to provide customized employment-related services to beneficiaries with disabilities. To access a beneficiary's BPQY, an EN or State VR agency must have two consent forms signed by the beneficiary or his/her authorized representatives.
Social Security's Consent for Release of Information form (SSA-3288: OMB No. 0960-0566) can be found at http://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-3288.pdf. To learn more about the BPQY, visit http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/documents/BPQY_Handbook_Version%205.2_7.19.2012.pdf.
If the beneficiary works at or above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level, then Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) cash benefits are not paid during the 36 month Extended Period of Eligibility(EPE). Benefit suspension months are the months the SSDI beneficiary is not paid due to working at the SGA level. For months the SSDI beneficiary works below the SGA level, benefits can be reinstated without another application for SSDI benefits. It can take two to three months to have cash benefit reinstated. Accurately recording the dates and amounts of all earnings and cash benefits is essential when dealing with these types of situations. A person who goes in and out of SGA during the EPE may be put in an overpayment status.
A Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary's benefits end the first month of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level earnings that comes after the end of the 36 months of the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). Once SSDI benefits end they cannot be reinstated unless the person reapplies or requests/files a new application for SSDI benefits or submits an application for an Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits (EXR). Termination is more than stopping benefits. It means that no more benefits are payable based on the individual's application and the period of disability has closed. If benefits are terminated and the person is granted eligibility based on a new application, this is considered a new period of disability and the beneficiary may be eligible for a new Ticket.
A BPA is a simplified contracting method used by Social Security to acquire the services of provider organizations under the Ticket to Work program. It is the legal agreement between Social Security and the provider. It outlines the terms and conditions for providing employment, vocational rehabilitation or other support services to Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities as an Employment Network (EN). Social Security awards a BPA to a provider after review and approval of the quotation the provider submitted in response to the EN Request for Quotation (RFQ).
BWE is a Social Security Work Incentive designed to encourage Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who are blind to enter the workforce. To calculate countable income to determine a person's eligibility for SSI or a beneficiary's monthly benefit amount after entering employment, Social Security will deduct from the income certain expenses associated with the person's disability. These BWEs include, but are not limited to, such things as transportation to and from work, income taxes, attendant care services, and service animal expenses. To learn more, visit http://www.ssa.gov/redbook/eng/blindrules.htm.
The break-even point is the dollar amount of total income (after Social Security applies all applicable deductions) that will reduce a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient's regular SSI or 1619(b) cash benefits payment amount to zero. A person's break-even point depends on his or her earned and unearned income, living arrangement, applicable income exclusions, and state supplement, if any.
Because of the various combinations of earned and unearned income, there is no one formula for determining the break-even point when both earned and unearned income are involved. For example, the BEP for someone receiving SSI who has no income, deemed income or in-kind supports, is: Federal Benefit Rate + State Supplement (if applicable) X 2 + 85. When earnings reach this level in the absence of other types of income, the calculation formula will indicate that no cash benefit is available for the person. The person has reached his or her BEP.
Any organization applying to become an Employment Network (EN) must provide a business plan that describes how that organization will meet the requirements for award of an EN Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA). The plan must describe how the organization will provide the services and supports necessary for beneficiaries to achieve self-sufficiency through work. It must give the organization's history, mission, accomplishments and corporate structure, including affiliates, subsidiaries, and subcontractors.
The business plan must also describe the programs, services and supports currently provided and explain their relevance to the goals of the Ticket program. Specific requirements associated with this required business plan can be found in the EN Request for Quotation (RFQ), Part III-Statement of Work, Section 1.C.2. The business plan template that organizations must use when responding to the RFQ is found in Part V-EN Quotation Documentation Requirements, Section 2.Q. The RFQ can be downloaded at http://www.ssa.gov/work/enrfq.html.
A claim month is a month in which a beneficiary whose Ticket is assigned to an EN or to a State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency acting as an EN (VREN) has achieved earnings sufficient to qualify the EN or VREN for a possible payment. It is one month in which the beneficiary earned the designated amount, Trial Work Level (TWL) or Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), to qualify for payment under the Ticket program.
For Phase 1 milestone 1, Phase 2 milestones, and outcome payments, the term "claim month" also may be used as the "attainment month" since only one month of earnings is required for payment. For Phase 1 milestones 2-4, which require multiple months of earnings to qualify for payment, a "claim month" is the month in which the beneficiary's earnings qualify the EN for payment. For example, if a beneficiary has been earning TWL earnings for three months within a six month period, the third month of TWL earnings is the "claim month" or "attainment month" when the beneficiary's earnings may qualify the EN for payment of Phase 1, milestone 2 if all other criteria for payment are met.
The claim period is the months of earnings necessary in a specific period to qualify for payment of Phase 1 milestones 2, 3, and 4. The claim periods are:
- Phase 1 milestone 2 is 3 months of earnings at or above the Trial Work Level (TWL) within a 6-month period.
- Phase 1 milestone 3 is 6 months within a 12-month period.
- Phase 1 milestone 4 is 9 months of earnings at or above the TWL within an 18-month period.
Certain exclusions can exempt an EN from being eligible for Phase 1 milestone payments. The 18-month look-back exclusion and the prior successful VR closure exclusion are two examples.
The CFR is the codification of general and permanent rules and regulations published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal government of the United States. Sometimes called administrative law, the CFR provides Federal guidance on legislative provisions in Federal statutes.
The governing regulations for the Ticket to Work program are found in 20 CFR Part 411. The governing regulations for the VR Cost Reimbursement program are located in 20 CFR Part 404.2101 through 404.2127 for Title II (Social Security Disability Insurance/SSDI) beneficiaries and 20 CFR Part 416.2201 through 416.2227 for Title XVI (Supplemental Security Income/SSI) beneficiaries.
See "Signatory Authority."
CWICs are employees of Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) projects. They help Social Security disability beneficiaries who are interested in working make informed choices about work and earnings. The CWIC explains Social Security's Work Incentives and the impact of work and earnings on benefits.
Find the WIPA project serving your area at http://www.chooseworkttw.net/findhelp/.
A concurrent beneficiary is a person who is in current-pay status (receiving a benefit check) for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) with at least one month in a year in current-pay status for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
CDS is one type of Employment Network (EN) business model. It shifts responsibility for key service decisions, such as deciding about the direct purchase of support services, from the EN to the beneficiary. In a CDS model, the EN provides cash payments directly to beneficiaries as reimbursement for services and supports the beneficiary purchases in connection with getting and keeping a job.
Beneficiaries must provide receipts to the EN to verify that the funds they received were used for work-related expenses. These payments are not considered, and should not be made as, wage supplements. All terms and conditions of a CDS model, including amount of remuneration and documentation of services and supports, must be documented in the beneficiary's Individual Work Plan (IWP). To learn more, visit http://www.ssa.gov/work/enrfq.html. Look for the CDS model in the EN Request for Quotation (RFQ).
A person can receive at least 93 consecutive months of hospital and medical insurance after his or her Trial Work Period is completed. This provision allows health insurance to continue when a person goes to work and engages in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
Social Security conducts periodic reviews of current information on a beneficiary's disabling condition or impairment (medical CDRs), or a beneficiary's work activity (work CDRs). The purpose of these reviews is to establish continued eligibility for disability benefits (Social Security Disability Insurance/SSDI and/or Supplemental Security Income/SSI). The two types of CDRs are:
- Work CDRs:
- Triggered by and based on a person's work and earnings.
- Occur when a SSDI beneficiary's gross countable earnings are at or above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level.
- May be conducted even if a beneficiary is using his/her Ticket.
- Medical CDRs:
- Timing depends on a Social Security classification system based on the severity and expected duration of the person's disability. These are the beneficiary classification medical review schedules:
- Medical Improvement Expected (MIE) - Every 6 to 18 months
- Medical Improvement Possible (MIP) - Every 3 to 5 years
- Medical Improvement Not Expected (MINE) - Every 5 to 7 years
- Postponed if the beneficiary's Ticket is assigned to an Employment Network (EN) or to a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency acting as an EN (VREN), or in-use with a State VR agency, as long as the beneficiary is making timely progress towards self-supporting employment as defined by Social Security.
- Timing depends on a Social Security classification system based on the severity and expected duration of the person's disability. These are the beneficiary classification medical review schedules:
Social Security's general benefit increases are based on increases in the cost of living (COL) as measured by the Consumer Price Index. These yearly increases are called Cost-Of-Living Adjustments (COLAs). No COLAs are applied in those years in which there is no upward change in the COL.
CSAVR is composed of the chief administrators of the State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies serving persons with physical and mental disabilities in the States, District of Columbia and U.S. Territories. Its mission is to maintain and enhance a strong, effective and efficient national program of public VR services, with the goal of empowering persons with disabilities to achieve employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence, and inclusion and integration into their communities. For more information, visit the CSAVR website.
Countable income (wages) is the amount of money left over after Social Security subtracts all available deductions and exclusions from a person's total income. Social Security uses countable income to determine a person's eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the monthly SSI benefit amount.
The DUNS number is a nine-digit number assigned by the accounting firm Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) to identify a unique business entity. Its main purpose is to enable businesses and organizations to meet U.S. Federal Government registration requirements for contracts and grants. Social Security requires every Employment Network (EN) to have a DUNS number to complete the EN application process.
Each EN must use its DUNS to identify itself when undertaking activities necessary to operate an EN such as securing Ticket assignments, requesting payments, submitting forms, sending correspondence, etc. Providers that do not have a DUNS number may obtain one directly from D&B by calling 1.800.333.0505 or by applying online at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform.
DUNS numbers are available at no charge, although there may be a waiting period. For purposes of the EN Blanket Purchase Agreement, the DUNS number must be issued in the contractor's name as shown on the organization's response to the EN Request for Quotation (RFQ).
Deeming is Social Security's process of considering some of the income and resources of a person's parent or spouse (or sponsor if dealing with a resident alien) to be counted as income and resources when that person is applying for or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
This is in addition to any income and resources of the claimant. When Social Security determines the eligibility and amount of payments for an SSI recipient, the income and resources of people responsible for the recipient's welfare are also considered.
Deemed income is based on the idea that those who share responsibility for one another's well-being also share their income and resources. Money need not be actually provided to an eligible beneficiary for deeming to apply.
The term diaried refers to the diary created by Social Security when a person begins receiving disability benefits. The diary tracks when the person is scheduled for a medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR). The timing of medical CDRs depends on a Social Security classification system based on the severity and expected duration of the person's disability.
These are the beneficiary classification medical review schedules:
- Medical Improvement Expected (MIE) - Every 6 to 18 months
- Medical Improvement Possible (MIP) - Every 3 to 5 years
- Medical Improvement Not Expected (MINE) - Every 5 to 7 years
One advantage of using the Ticket is that the beneficiary is not subjected to regularly-scheduled medical reviews while the Ticket is assigned to an Employment Network (EN), or in-use with a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, and the beneficiary is making expected progress towards self-supporting employment. The criteria used to determine Timely Progress are available at https://yourtickettowork.com/web/ttw/requirements.
In the context of payments under the Ticket to Work program, the term diaried refers to a payment request that is pending due to the Ticket Program Manager’s inability to verify the beneficiary's earnings within 30 days of the receipt of the payment request.
A person is considered disabled if unable to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), as defined by the Social Security Administration, because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that has lasted or can be expected to last for at least 12 months or can be expected to result in death.
The DCF is one of the sources of data in Social Security's electronic records used to compile information for the Benefits Planning Query (BPQY).
DPQ is when a payment request is processed and denied because it has already been processed and paid.
Earned income can be wages paid in cash or in kind. Social Security may count more of a person's earned income than the person actually receives. For example, earnings are counted when they are being withheld because of a garnishment or to pay a debt or other legal obligation or to make any other payments.
Earned income can be:
- Gross wages paid in cash (before any deductions), wages paid in cash to uniformed service members, and wages paid in kind
- Net earnings from self-employment
- Refunds of Federal income taxes and advance payments by employers made in accordance with the earnings income credit provisions of the Internal Revenue Code
- Payments for services performed in a sheltered workshop or work activities center
- Certain royalties and honoraria
Bonuses based on work performance also are considered earned income, as are sick pay and temporary disability payments received within the first six months of stopping work. For the regulatory definition of earned income, visit http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/416/416-1110.htm.
This is a refundable Federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families. Congress originally approved the tax credit legislation in 1975 in part to offset the burden of Social Security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. To qualify, taxpayers must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if they did not earn enough money to be obligated to file a tax return.
An employer EN is an EN business model in which the EN is the employer of a beneficiary who has assigned his or her Ticket to that employer. There are different applications of the employer EN business model. For example, an employer EN may be a large commercial business that employs many Ticket Holders. Or it may be a traditional employment services provider that employs only one of its Ticket Holders.
An employer EN may not actually employ any of its Ticket Holders, but rather, serve as an employer's agent. The EN enters into a contract, agreement or other working arrangement with an employer to locate and place beneficiaries in jobs with that employer.
This statement is one of the three types of documentation Social Security recognizes as primary evidence of earnings to support an Employment Network's (EN) request for payment. For a sample statement, visit the Information Center Forms page and look under "Payments."
An EN is an organization or group of organizations that has been deemed qualified to provide or coordinate the provision of vocational rehabilitation and other types of employment-related services and supports to assist Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities to enter, maintain and advance in employment.
Organizations must apply to become ENs and specify the geographic area where they will provide services (county, multi-county, statewide, multi-state, or national). Once approved by Social Security, an organization must sign a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) before it can operate as an EN. ENs can be for-profit and non-profit organizations and service providers, state and local government agencies, or a group of providers working together as a single EN.
State Workforce agencies, Workforce Investment Boards, and American Job Centers (formerly called One-Stop Career Centers) automatically qualify to become ENs, as do American Indian Tribal Projects funded under Section 121 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Although automatically qualified, these entities must still complete the EN Request for Quotation (RFQ) process. State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies may participate as an EN or under the traditional cost reimbursement system on a case-by-case basis.
Depending on an Employment Network's (EN) structure, service delivery model, and administrative processes, an EN employee may be designated the EN Other Contact with responsibility for working with the Ticket Program Manager on Ticket-related business processes such as beneficiary outreach, annual performance reporting, and Timely Progress Reviews. The EN Other Contact is made by completing Part V, Section 2.I of the EN Request for Quotation. The EN Other Contact is the only person other than the Signatory Authority who can make changes to the EN's Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA).
The PRF is the form that Employment Networks (EN) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies acting as ENs (VREN) use to request milestone and outcome payments under the Ticket program. ENs that do not have access to the Ticket Portal and need to request an evidentiary payment must complete and submit this form. Primary or secondary evidence of earnings and any other supporting documents must also be submitted. The PRF goes to the Ticket Program Manager’s EN Payments Department. To access the EN PRF, click on (Form 1391).
Social Security uses the Employment Network (EN) Profile (formerly the EN Report Card) to provide information to beneficiaries interested in assistance under the Ticket program. The profile includes information on outcomes achieved for specific services provided by the EN. To learn more about the EN Profile, visit Choose Work at http://chooseworkttw.net/findhelp/.
This is the announcement the Social Security Administration issues to solicit applications from employment service providers interested in becoming ENs under the Ticket to Work program. The EN RFQ explains the duties of an EN and the requirements for award consideration. It provides directions for submitting the quotation. To access the EN RFQ, visit the Social Security Work Site at http://ssa.gov/work/enrfq.html.
ENSB is the component of Social Security's Office of Research, Demonstration and Employment Support (ORDES) responsible for developing and administering the application process for service providers interested in becoming Employment Networks (ENs) under the Ticket to Work program. ENSB is available to answer questions from prospective ENs about becoming an EN. Staff can assist with understanding and preparing the EN Request for Quotation (RFQ). The ENSB also provides administrative support to ENs following award of EN Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA). Contact ENSB by email at ENService@ssa.gov; toll free by phone at 1.866.584.5180 (voice) or 1.866.584.5181 (TDD); or by fax at 410.597.0429.
These EN status terms exist under operational processes in the Ticket to Work program:
- Approved indicates that an organization:
- Completed the Employment Network (EN) Request for Quotation (RFQ) process
- Has been awarded its EN Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA)
- Has at least one person on staff who has passed suitability
- Completed the mandatory training on the Ticket program required of all new ENs
- Is ready to begin assigning Tickets and serving Social Security beneficiaries
Research approved ENs using the "Find Help" icon on the Choose Work website (http://www.chooseworkttw.net/) or the "Find Help" map on the Social Security Work Site (http://www.ssa.gov/work/home.html). The Directory can also be accessed from the Ticket to Work website (www.yourtickettowork.com). Click on "For Beneficiaries" at the top of the page.
- Expired indicates that the EN's Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) award has expired based on the effective dates of the agreement.
- Hold is a temporary status used at the request of an approved Employment Network (EN) that is not ready to begin Ticket operations or is not available to accept new Ticket assignments. This status is also used when Social Security is investigating an EN's Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) compliance or performance. While the EN is in hold status, its information is not available through the "Find Help" icon at http://www.chooseworkttw.net/.
- Not Ready to Serve (NRTS) is an interim status used when an Employment Network (EN) has completed the EN RFQ process, has been awarded a BPA, and is awaiting a suitability clearance. This interim status may also be used when key EN contacts have not completed the mandatory training new ENs are required to complete prior to initiating Ticket program operations, including taking Ticket assignments.
- Terminated indicates that an Employment Network's (EN) Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) is ended either by the Social Security Administration or at the EN's request.
Social Security administers a number of employment support provisions and programs designed to assist beneficiaries with disabilities to move from benefit dependence to economic independence. Examples of these Work Incentives include:
- Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE)
- Blind Work Expenses (BWI)
- Plans to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)
- Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE)
Summaries of all available Work Incentives are found in the Social Security Red Book which is updated annually. Access the most recent version of the Red Book at http://ssa.gov/redbook/.
An evidentiary payment request is a payment request with accompanying earnings information that Social Security categorizes as primary evidence of earnings. Primary evidence includes pay stubs, an Employer Prepared Earnings Statement, and earnings information submitted from The Work Number, which is a third-party service that provides earnings information for a fee. To learn more about The Work Number, visit www.theworknumber.com.
EXR is a safety net for beneficiaries who enter the workforce and whose disability benefits end due to work and earnings. If the beneficiary loses his or her job within five years of benefit cessation, the beneficiary may request reinstatement of benefits without completing a new application. Under EXR, the beneficiary may receive up to six months of temporary or provisional benefits while Social Security conducts a medical review to determine if the person qualifies for the reinstatement of benefits. To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
If a person qualifies, Social Security may restart Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits during the 36 consecutive months after the Trial Work Period is completed. This is without a new application, disability determination, or waiting period. To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
Social Security provides an online Find Help resource tool to facilitate beneficiary contacts with:
- Employment Networks (ENs)
- State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies
- Workforce ENs, including American Job Centers (AJCs)
- Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPAs) projects
- Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiary of Social Security (PABSS) projects
The Find Help Directory can be accessed at the Choose Work website at http://www.chooseworkttw.net/findhelp/.
By clicking "Find Help," the user can search for service providers by state or ZIP code and then narrow the search by type of provider or distance from the ZIP code area. Users can also search by entering a service provider's name or part of a service provider's name.
A for-profit EN does not have a special tax exempt status, 501(c)(3); monies earned by the business provide a financial benefit for the shareholders, trustees or owner; and whose primary goal is making a profit.
Enacted in 1966, the FOIA was established to help make the Federal government more accountable to the public for its actions by allowing public access to the records of Federal government agencies. The FOIA defines agency records subject to disclosure and outlines mandatory disclosure procedures.
FOIA amendments signed into law in 1994 added a requirement that agencies must establish an Electronic FOIA (EFOIA) Reading Room. The EFOIA Library for the Social Security Administration is located at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/foia/readingroom.html. It contains such materials as previous laws, regulations, and policies; certain agency manuals; specific agency policy statements; and Frequently Requested Social Security Administration Statistics.
Full retirement age used to be 65. However, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, that age gradually increases until it reaches 67 for people born after 1959. For Ticket eligibility, retirement age for persons receiving SSI is age 65. For persons receiving SSDI, the retirement age is 66 or older depending on the year the person was born.
GovDelivery is a service that governments and government agencies use to manage electronic communications. Both the Social Security Administration and the Ticket Program Manager use GovDelivery to connect and engage with the public.
Messages about the Ticket program sent through GovDelivery indicate that they come from Social Security. All GovDelivery messages the TPM generates are categorized as Announcements, Corrections, Reminders, Technical Bulletins, and Updates.
An IRWE is a Work Incentive available to persons receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. When deciding if the person is engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), Social Security deducts the cost of impairment-related items and services a person needs to work, such as attendant care services, medical devices, accessible transportation, etc. It does not matter if the person also needs the same items for normal daily activities, as long as the item(s) are also needed for work. To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
For recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), income includes:
- Earned income: Money received from wages, including from a sheltered workshop or work activity center, self-employment earnings, and some royalties and honoraria
- Unearned income: Money received from all other sources such as gifts, interest, Social Security benefits, Veterans benefits, and pensions. Unearned Income includes "in-kind income" such as free food, clothing, or shelter, and "deemed income" such as some of the income of a spouse, a parent, or the sponsor of an alien. Support and alimony, prizes and awards, private pensions and annuities, and tips under $20.00 per month area also considered unearned income.
Income exclusions are used to determine countable income for recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Generally, if the item received cannot be used as or to obtain food, clothing, or shelter, then Social Security does not consider it as income.
- Earned income exclusions include:
- The first $65 per month of a person's earnings plus one-half of the remaining earnings (i.e., $1 a month for every $2 a month earned above the first $65)
- Impairment-related work expenses or blind work expenses
- Income a person sets aside or uses to pursue a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)
- Unearned income exclusions include:
- The first $20 per month of earnings, or can be a $20 general income exclusion
- Income a person sets aside or uses to pursue a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)
- State or locally funded assistance, based on need
- Rent subsidies under HUD programs and the value of food stamps
- Infrequent or irregularly received income ($20 or less a month)
- The general earned income exclusion is the first $65 of any monthly earned income plus one-half of remaining earnings. The exclusion is $85 if the person has no income other than earnings.
An incorrect payment to an Employment Network (EN) occurs when the EN receives payment on behalf of a beneficiary and it is later determined that the payment should not have been made. When this occurs, the EN will receive an Overpayment Notice from Social Security.
If an EN receives an Overpayment Notice and has evidence that demonstrates that the EN should have received the payment in question, the EN should submit the evidence within 30 days of the date of the notice. The notice includes information on where to submit evidence and contact information for questions. Questions may also be directed to the EN Payments Help Desk at ENPaymentsHelpDesk@yourtickettowork.com.
An IEP is a plan often used for individuals receiving intensive services through a State's Federally-funded workforce system. The plan identifies the person's employment goals, appropriate achievable objectives, and an appropriate combination of services for the participant to achieve his or her employment goal(s). Generally, an IEP may be used by workforce Employment Networks (ENs) in place of the Individual Work Plan (IPE) required for other ENs.
The IWP is a written and signed agreement between the beneficiary (or, as appropriate, an authorized representative of the beneficiary) and the Employment Network (EN). It is a prerequisite for a Ticket assignment. The IWP describes the beneficiary's specific employment goal(s) and the vocational rehabilitation services and other employment-related supports and services that the EN will provide to help the beneficiary enter, maintain, advance to, and sustain self-supporting employment.
An EN shall develop the IWP in partnership with the beneficiary in a manner that affords the beneficiary the opportunity to exercise informed choice in selecting an employment goal and the services and supports needed to achieve that goal. To learn more, visit the IWP page on the Ticket to Work website. For IWP training, look under "Compliance" on the Training page in the Information Center.
An IPE is a written plan of services required for persons approved to receive services from a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency. Social Security accepts the IPE in place of the Individual Work Plan (IWP) for those beneficiaries who choose to receive services under the Ticket to Work program from State VR agencies.
iTOPSS is the management information system administered by the Social Security Administration to facilitate and record all business functions of the Ticket to Work program. These functions include, among other things, checking:
- Ticket assignments/unassignment
- Ticket payments to Employment Networks (ENs) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies acting as ENs (VRENs)
- Timely Progress Reviews (TPRs)
IPP.gov is a free subscription service that sends an email notification to an enrolled Employment Network (EN) each time the U.S. Department of Treasury makes a direct deposit under the Ticket program to the EN's designated bank account. While the EN Payment Processing Report confirms the date a payment was approved by the Ticket Program Manager (TPM), the IPP.gov email notification is sent on the same day that the deposit is received, confirming the actual receipt of the payment.
Each IPP.gov notification includes details for each payment in the direct deposit. Both the EN Payment Status Report and the IPP.gov email notification are useful tools ENs can use to track payments.
JAN is a free consulting service designed to increase the employability of persons with disabilities. It provides advice on individualized worksite accommodations solutions and technical assistance regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other disability-related legislation. It educates callers about self-employment options. To learn more, visit http://askjan.org.
Most states have a program that lets persons with severe disabilities buy Medicaid coverage if they meet certain age, income, and resource requirements. The eligibility criteria for these programs vary from state to state. Contact your state Medical Assistance office. Call 1.800.MEDICARE (TTY: 1.877.486.2048) to get the telephone number for your state office. Ask about the Medicaid buy-in program.
A state may provide Medicaid coverage for people with disabilities who have earnings that are too high to qualify for Medicaid under current rules; are under the age of 65; and meet state resource and income limits. A state may also provide Medicaid coverage to these persons when they lose coverage due to medical improvement but still have a medically determinable severe impairment. To learn more about this program, go to "SSI Spotlight 1619(b)" at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-medicaid.htm. Or contact the state Medical Assistance office at 1.800.MEDICARE (voice) or 1.877.486.2048 (TTY) to get the phone number for your state office. Ask about Medicare for Qualified Disabled and Working Persons. You can also contact the local Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project. Find the WIPA for your geographic area by visiting the Choose Work website at http://www.chooseworkttw.net/. Click "Find Help."
Under this program, a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient's Medicaid coverage can continue even if his or her earnings alone or together with other income become too high for a SSI cash payment. To qualify, the recipient must have been eligible for a SSI cash payment for at least one month before 1619(b) went into effect. To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/. The person must:
- Still be disabled
- Still meet all other eligibility rules, including resource limits
- Need Medicaid in order to work
- Have gross earned income insufficient to replace SSI, Medicaid and any publicly-funded attendant care
MIE is the classification Social Security assigns to a person with a disabling impairment that along with other factors qualifies him or her for disability benefits, but whose impairment may improve. Social Security uses this designation to diary the person's case for a future medical review to determine continued eligibility based on the disabling condition.
MINE is the classification Social Security assigns to a person with a permanent impairment. MINE refers to a case in which any medical improvement in a person’s impairment(s) is not expected.
MIP is the classification assigned by Social Security to a person with a disabling impairment that may improve. MIP cases are diaried for future medical reviews based on the severity of the disabling condition.
This Federal health insurance program is available to eligible persons with disabilities and persons age 65 or older. It includes:
- Hospital Insurance under Medicare Part A
- Supplementary Medical Insurance under Medicare Part B
- Voluntary prescription drug coverage with a Prescription Drug Provider (PDP) under Medicare Part D
Low-income beneficiaries with Medicare can get extra help paying their prescription drug coverage premiums by filing an application with Social Security. To learn more, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp/.
Some people with disabilities who have returned to work can buy continued Medicare coverage when their premium-free Medicare ends due to work activity. States are required to help pay the hospital insurance premiums for some working persons with disabilities. To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
This is one of two systems that provide a schedule of payments to Employment Networks (ENs) under the Ticket to Work program. The payment schedule to an EN includes two sets of milestone payments made while a beneficiary is still receiving monthly disability benefits, followed by outcome payments when a beneficiary is no longer receiving a monthly cash disability benefit due to work and earnings. This is called zero cash benefit status.
A reconciliation payment is a one-time, lump-sum payment that Social Security automatically makes to an Employment Network (EN) when a beneficiary enters the outcome payment period before the EN receives all available Phase 1 and Phase 2 milestone payments. ENs do not need to submit a payment request for reconciliation payments. A reconciliation payment is made when the 12th outcome payment is approved and includes all milestones "available" at the time of the first Ticket assignment that remain "unpaid" due to the start of the outcome payment period. To learn more, visit the Outcome Payments page.
The NDNH is a national database of wage and employment information administered by the Office of Child Support Enforcement but located at Social Security's National Computing Center. The primary purpose of the NDNH is to assist State child support agencies in locating parents and enforcing child support orders.
Congress has also authorized specific state and federal agencies to receive information from the NDNH for other purposes. Social Security uses this information as secondary evidence of earnings to support EN payment requests using the Evidentiary Payment Request option. Earnings information from the NDNH does not guarantee payment, but is a lead to possible payment. Social Security considers other factors in determining if the earnings meet all payment criteria.
This is a service provider that is not organized for profit and operates primarily to promote social welfare. The earnings of the organization may not contribute to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. Any money earned by a non-profit organization must be retained by the organization, and used for its own expenses, operations, and programs. Many non-profit organizations also seek tax exempt status, 501(c)(3), and may also be exempt from local taxes including sales taxes or property taxes.
As a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, ODEP provides national leadership by developing and influencing disability-related employment policy and practice affecting the employment of people with disabilities. To learn more, visit http://www.dol.gov/odep/.
ORDES was formed in December 2013 with the merger of the Social Security Administration's former Offices of Employment Support Programs (OESP) and Program Development and Research (OPDR). ORDES is responsible for planning and directing the Social Security Administration programs that evaluate beneficiary needs in the areas of rehabilitation and employment support.
ORDES provides operational advice, technical support, and direction to central office, regional offices, and field components in the administration of employment support programs and policies. It oversees all the programs that assist Social Security disability program beneficiaries in going to work, including the Ticket to Work program.
ORDES is also responsible for creating and implementing all return to work related policies and procedures, from drafting regulations to creating policy that Social Security field office personnel implement. The Office provides support and assistance in educating the public about disability programs' Work Incentives, rehabilitation, other forms of employment support, and proposed program changes.
ORDES is also responsible for awarding and overseeing the contracts and grants of external organizations that help administer return to work initiatives for Social Security disability beneficiaries. This includes the Ticket Program Manager contractor, the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) projects, and the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) grants.
This is one of two systems that provide a schedule of payments to Employment Networks (ENs) under the Ticket to Work program. It involves payment only after a beneficiary has earnings equal to or greater than the amount Social Security uses to designate Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and the beneficiary's work and earnings have resulted in the stopping of monthly disability benefits. The EN is not eligible to receive any milestone payments when this method of payment is chosen.
Learn more at https://yourtickettowork.com/web/ttw/outcome-payment-system.
An overpayment for a person receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is the total cash payment a person received for any period that exceeds the total cash payment that should have been paid for that period. Overpayments occur when beneficiaries receive monthly benefit checks they were not entitled to receive or receive monthly SSI checks that are larger than they were entitled to receive.
See "Incorrect Payment."
Partnership Plus is a service delivery option where a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency and an Employment Network (EN) can both receive compensation for serving the same beneficiary under the same Ticket when the State VR agency serves the beneficiary under the VR Cost Reimbursement program.
Under Partnership Plus, the State VR agency provides the up-front services leading to job placement and short-term employment. After the State VR agency closes the beneficiary's case, the beneficiary has the option of assigning his or her Ticket to an EN to receive ongoing services and support to assist in maintaining and advancing in employment. To learn more, visit the Partnership Plus page.
This person is designated by the Employment Network as responsible for submitting, processing, handling, and receiving payment requests under the Ticket to Work program. The Payments Contact will exchange Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about beneficiaries, including Social Security Numbers, earnings information, etc., with Social Security and the Ticket Program Manager. Therefore, the Contact must go through Social Security's suitability process and be determined suitable to fulfill these responsibilities.
A Payments Processing Report is an accounting of each payment Social Security makes to an Employment Network (EN). Social Security forwards a Payment Processing Report to the EN's designated payments contact each time Social Security notifies the U.S. Department of Treasury to make a direct deposit to the EN's designated bank account.
PII is any information that can be used to distinguish or trace a person's identity. PII includes a person's name, Social Security Number, biometric records, etc., either alone or with other personal or identifying information that is linked or linkable to a specific person, such as date and place of birth, mother's maiden name, etc.
Other examples of PII may include, but are not limited to: Social Security benefit data, official state or government issued driver's license or identification number, alien registration number, government passport number, employer or taxpayer identification number, home address, and medical information.
Employment Networks (ENs) are responsible for ensuring that all EN employees, including contractors and subcontractors, who have access to PII on Social Security disability beneficiaries have been trained on Social Security's requirements for protecting PII. ENs are also responsible for reporting any lost, compromised, or potentially compromised PII. Detailed information on protecting and reporting the loss of PII is found in the EN RFQ, Part VI, Section 3.K.
To learn more about PII and Social Security's requirements for protecting PII visit the Training page. Look under "Compliance" for "Personally Identifiable Information."
Additional information on encrypting files is available on the "Resource Documents" page under "Program Resources."
Under an approved PASS plan, a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient may set aside income and/or resources for a reasonable time in order to reach a work goal aimed at becoming financially self-supporting. The beneficiary can use the income and resources that were set aside to obtain occupational training or education, purchase occupational equipment, establish a business, etc.
Social Security does not count the income and resources the beneficiary is setting aside under his or her PASS plan when deciding SSI eligibility and the monthly SSI payment amount. In some instances, a person receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can set aside some of the SSDI benefit under a PASS to lower his or her income to become eligible for SSI. The form used to submit PASS plans, Form SSA-545-BK, can be accessed at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/forms/ssa-545.html.
PASS experts are located in each of the ten Social Security Regional Offices to assist in preparing PASS plans. Call 1.800.772.1213 to obtain a PASS Specialist's phone number (TTY: 1.800.325.0778). To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
You can also access the publication "Working While Disabled - A Guide to Plans for Achieving Self-Support" (Publication No. 05-11017) at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10095.pdf.
The quickest way for an Employment Network (EN) to receive payment under the Ticket to Work program is to use the Evidentiary Payment process and submit primary evidence of earnings. Primary evidence of earnings includes paystubs and earnings statements prepared and signed by the employer.
Primary evidence of earnings can be provided:
- On company letterhead
- On the Employer-Prepared Earnings Statement form found in the Information Center Forms page under "Payments."
- On records from a third-party source such as The Work Number at http://www.theworknumber.com.
If the EN submits paystubs, the stubs must show the beginning and ending dates for the pay period, the pay date, gross earnings, and withholdings (FICA, Medicare, etc.). If any of this information is missing or not legible, a "Supplemental Earnings Statement" should be completed and submitted with the Payment Request form and the primary evidence of earnings. The Statement can be found in the Forms page of the Information Center.
The POMS is a primary source of information used by Social Security employees to process claims for Social Security benefits. Although the POMS is very technical and intended for use by Social Security Administration employees, there is a public version of the POMS accessible on line at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/Home?readform.
The public version is identical to the version used by Social Security employees except that it does not include internal data entry and sensitive content instructions. The POMS information available to the public is also available in a plain language version at http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.html.
Because the POMS provides only internal Social Security Administration guidance, it is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights enforceable at law by any party in a civil or criminal action.
Social Security does not count some or all of certain property necessary for self-support when it applies the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) resources test. For example, Social Security does not count property such as tools or equipment used for work or, if an individual has a trade or business, property such as inventory. To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
Social Security provides funding to the State Protection and Advocacy (P&A) systems to assist beneficiaries with disabilities in their efforts to enter and maintain employment. To find the PABSS serving your area, visit http://www.chooseworkttw.net/findhelp/. PABSS services include:
- Advocacy and related services for beneficiaries participating in the Ticket to Work program
- Information and advice about receiving vocational rehabilitation and employment services
- Advocacy or other related services that Social Security beneficiaries may need to secure or regain gainful employment
Published annually by the Social Security Administration, this general reference book provides a brief summary of all of the employment supports available to recipients of Social Security disability benefits. It provides a working knowledge of technical provisions so rehabilitation professionals, advocates, and counselors can appropriately advise persons with disabilities who express an interest in starting or returning to work. Access the Red Book at http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
The Rehabilitation Act makes funding available to States to assist them in establishing programs to increase the independence and employment of people with disabilities. Title I authorizes the public Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program which is implemented through State VR agencies. These agencies are the only service providers authorized to participate in Social Security's VR Cost Reimbursement program. In 1998, the Rehabilitation Act became Title IV of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA, Public Law 105-220). WIA was reauthorized in 2014 and renamed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, Public Law 113-128).
Housed in the U.S. Department of Education, the RSA oversees grant programs that help persons with physical or mental disabilities find employment and live more independently. Under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, RSA provides funds to State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies to provide employment-related services for persons with disabilities, giving priority to persons who are significantly disabled.
Resources are anything a person owns, such as a bank account, stocks, business assets, real property, or personal property that can be used for support and maintenance. Social Security does not count all of a beneficiary's resources when it determines a person's eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
This provision titled "Continued Payment under Vocational Rehabilitation or Similar Program" is commonly called the Section 301 protection because the initial legislative authority for continued payment of benefits to persons in a vocational rehabilitation (VR) program was provided in Section 301 of the Social Security Disability Amendments of 1980.
Under Section 301, a person receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits based on disability may request continuation of disability benefits even after Social Security has found that the beneficiary has medically improved. Medical improvement is based on a medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR) or an "Age 18 Re-determination" for SSI benefits.
Normally, this would be the point at which disability benefits would end. To qualify for the Section 301 protection, the beneficiary must be participating in an appropriate vocational rehabilitation program or similar services at the time of the determination of medical improvement.
The service plans developed for beneficiaries participating in the Ticket to Work program and for beneficiaries receiving services from a State VR agency both qualify as appropriate programs for purposes of this protection. Social Security must also determine that the continued participation in the program would likely eliminate the need for disability benefits in the future. To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, prohibits Federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against persons with disabilities. It requires these employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these individuals.
Revisions to the 503 regulations, effective March 24, 2014, strengthen the affirmative action provisions to aid Federal contractors and subcontractors in their efforts to recruit and hire persons with disabilities and improve their job opportunities. The Final Rule also makes changes to the nondiscrimination provisions of the regulations to bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008.
To learn more about Section 503, visit the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) website at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/section503.htm.
Information on Section 503, including resources on how to locate Federal contractors and other related topics, is available on the Section 503 page of the Ticket to Work website.
Archives of the 2013 and 2014 Section 503 Readiness training series and the Section 503 Community of Practice series are available in the Events Archive page of the Information Center.
Also called the Company Point of Contact (CPOC), the Signatory Authority is the contract representative whose signature appears in block 30a of the Employment Network (EN) Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) award form (Standard Form 1449) as the EN's authorized contractor official. The signatory authority is authorized to speak for the EN and receive all official communications from Social Security on all matters relating to the BPA.
The SSDI program, often called a Title 2 or T2 benefit, is authorized under Title II of the Social Security Act. SSDI provides cash benefits to persons who are disabled or blind and are "insured" by workers' contributions to the Social Security Trust Fund. These contributions are based on a worker's earnings, or those of the worker's spouse or parents, as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). SSDI is funded through the Social Security Trust Fund.
State VR agencies are State government components responsible for implementing the public VR program funded under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. They are located in each state, U.S. territory, and the District of Columbia.
State VR agencies provide employment-related services and support to eligible persons with disabilities residing within their jurisdictions, including those covered under the Ticket to Work program. Under the Ticket legislation, State VR agencies can choose to be paid using Social Security's VR Cost Reimbursement program or as an Employment Network (EN) under the Ticket program. State VR agencies in the latter category often are referred to as VRs acting as ENs or VRENs. To learn more, visit the Public VR Program and the VR Cost Reimbursement Program pages.
The SEIE is a Social Security Work Incentive available to students under the age of 22 who are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and regularly attending school. For qualifying students, Social Security does not count up to $1,780 of earned income per month (2016 rate) when calculating a beneficiary's monthly SSI payment amount. There is a maximum yearly exclusion of $7,180 in 2016. Social Security usually adjusts these figures each year based on the cost-of-living. There was no change from 2015 to 2016 because there was no Cost fo Living Adjustment. To learn more about the SEIE (for example, how Social Security defines regularly attending school), visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
Subsidies and special conditions are the supports a beneficiary receives on the job that may result in the person receiving more pay than the actual value of the work performed. For example, a person may receive more supervision than other workers doing the same or a similar job for the same pay. Social Security uses only the actual value of the work the beneficiary performed when making a decision about Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
SGA is the term Social Security uses to describe a level of work activity and earnings. Work is "substantial" if it involves performing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. "Gainful" work activities denote work performed for pay or profit; or work of a nature generally performed for pay or profit; or work intended for profit, whether or not a profit is realized.
Social Security uses SGA as one of the factors to decide if a person is eligible for disability benefits. For persons receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, SGA is also used to determine continued eligibility for benefits after the person returns to work and completes the Trial Work Period. The amount of monthly earnings considered SGA depends on the nature of a person's disability.
The Social Security Act specifies a higher SGA amount for persons who are statutorily blind, and Federal regulations specify a lower SGA amount for non-blind individuals. Social Security indexes both SGA amounts to increase with changes in the national average wage index.
The annual rates used by Social Security to determine SGA for both blind and non-blind beneficiaries from 1975 to the present are available at http://socialsecurity.gov/OACT/COLA/sga.html. For the purposes of the Ticket program, SGA is used to determine when a beneficiary has earnings that would qualify the Employment Network (EN) working with that beneficiary for Phase 2 milestone payments under the Ticket program. SGA is also used in connection with the receipt of outcome payments, but the beneficiary must also be in zero cash benefits status to qualify the EN for payment.
This term refers to the suitability determination process (also known as a security clearance or background investigation) that all contract employees performing work for the Federal government must complete before being granted access to a government site, logical access to a government information system, or access to programmatic or sensitive information.
This includes all Employment Network (EN) employees, including contractor and subcontractor employees, working under an EN's Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) who require access to the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities available from Social Security. It also includes all employees who will be exchanging such information with Social Security or the Ticket Program Manager. A summary of these requirements is available in the Information Center on the Suitability page.
The SES is a form used by Employment Networks (EN) to help support a request for payment under the Ticket program. It provides missing and/or illegible information from primary earnings evidence, such as pay stubs with missing pay periods. Social Security does not consider this form primary evidence of earnings. It should not be submitted without primary evidence. The EN is responsible for the information provided in this statement and the source of this information. The SES form can be found under "Payments" in the Forms section of the Information Center.
The SSI program, authorized under Title XVI of the Social Security Act and often called Title16 or T16 benefits, makes cash assistance payments to aged, blind and disabled persons, including children, who have limited income and resources. The Federal government funds SSI from general tax revenues. Many states pay a supplemental benefit to persons in addition to their Federal SSI benefit. Most adults aged 18 through 64 who receive SSI benefits are eligible to participate in the Ticket to Work program.
The SSITWR is a toll-free automated system that allows beneficiaries and their representative payees to report wages for the prior month to Social Security by telephone. Only certain persons can report wages using the SSITWR. A beneficiary should contact the local Social Security office to see which wage reporting option is best for him or her. If SSITWR is an option, the local office will provide worksheets and instructions on how to report wages using the SSITWR. To learn more about the SSITWR, call 1.800.772.1213 (TTY: 1.800.325.0778). Or visit www.socialsecurity.gov.
The SAM is the primary registrant database for all Federal government contractors. It combines the features of and replaces two former Federal databases: the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA). Every organization applying to become and operating as an Employment Network (EN) must register their Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, enter their banking information, and complete their representations and certifications in the SAM.
ENs should update their information in the SAM annually and enter any changes in information such as a change in an EN's banking information into the SAM immediately. Payments under the Ticket program are direct deposited to an EN's bank account based on the information in the SAM. There is no charge to register in the SAM. To register or update SAM entries, visit www.sam.gov.
Some Employment Networks (ENs) use a web-based, automated employment and income verification services system known as "The Work Number" to obtain an independent, third-party source of up-to-date earnings data for Ticket Holders. The earnings information comes from over 2,000 participating employers nationwide and is updated each payroll period. To learn more, visit www.theworknumber.com.
A Ticket to Work is a symbolic document issued to eligible recipients of Social Security disability benefits (Social Security Disability Insurance/SSDI and/or Supplemental Security Income/SSI). The Ticket represents the Social Security Commissioner's agreement to pay an Employment Network (EN) or a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency for successfully providing employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services to a Ticket Holder.
A Ticket Holder must first assign his or her Ticket to the EN or State VR agency to receive services under the Ticket program. Social Security stopped mailing Tickets to Ticket-eligible beneficiaries in 2011 and reinstated Ticket mailings in April 2015. Social Security mails Tickets to persons approved for disability benefits based on criteria used to identify those most likely to use their Tickets.
A Social Security Administration system allowing Employment Networks (ENs) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies serving beneficiaries under the Ticket to Work (TTW) program to perform transactions online.
All transactions in the Ticket Portal are in real-time. The Ticket Portal connects to the Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work system of record.
All staff working for ENs, including staff working for EN contractors, who need access to the Ticket Portal to complete their job functions must successfully complete Social Security's suitability determination before being granted such access. To learn more, visit https://yourtickettowork.com/web/ttw/ticket-portal.
The Ticket to Work program is authorized under the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-170) and administered by the Social Security Administration. This voluntary program is available to adults aged 18 through 64 who receive benefits based on disability under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and/or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
The purpose of the Ticket program is to provide expanded options for accessing employment services, vocational rehabilitation services or other support services needed to enter, maintain and advance in employment. The ultimate goal of the program is to eliminate the need for Social Security disability cash benefits to the extent possible.
Social Security provides set levels of compensation (milestone and outcome payments) to participating Employment Networks (ENs) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies functioning as ENs (VRENs). Compensation occurs as the beneficiaries they work with, and for whom they have the Ticket assignments, enter employment and achieve designated levels of work and earnings.
To learn more, visit https://yourtickettowork.com/web/ttw/ticket-program-basics.
Social Security uses a number of terms to denote the status of a particular beneficiary's Ticket. In addition to providing information related to the assignability of a Ticket, the Ticket status affects a beneficiary's access to the protection from medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR) and may affect payments to the Employment Network (EN). Ticket status can be verified in the Ticket Portal.
The Ticket statuses are:
- Assignable: The beneficiary is Ticket-eligible and his or her Ticket currently is not assigned to an Employment Network (EN) or a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency acting as an EN, or in use with a State VR agency. A Ticket is in use with a State VR agency when the agency has chosen to serve the beneficiary under the VR Cost Reimbursement program.
- Assigned: The beneficiary is Ticket-eligible and his or her Ticket is assigned to an EN or a State VR agency acting as an EN (VREN). A Ticket can only be assigned to, or in-use with, one service provider at a time. While a beneficiary's Ticket is assigned or in-use, he or she is protected from medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR) as long as he or she is also making timely progress towards economic self-support.
To learn more about medical CDRs and Timely Progress Reviews, visit the Timely Progress Review page.
- Assigned (Not in Use): A beneficiary who had his or her Ticket assigned to an EN or a State VR agency failed to pass the most recent Timely Progress Review (TPR). Beneficiaries whose Tickets are placed in this status are no longer protected from medical CDRs. The EN or State VR agency acting as an EN receives no penalty if Timely Progress is not met. It can still receive payments based on the earnings of the beneficiary unless a medical CDR is conducted and the beneficiary is found to no longer be eligible for disability benefits based on medical improvement.
- Inactive Status: A beneficiary who was using his or her Ticket (the Ticket was assigned to an EN or the beneficiary was working with a State VR agency) has submitted a written request to the Ticket Program Manager (TPM) asking that the Ticket be placed in the inactive status. The inactive status will begin with the first day of the month following the month TPM receives the request. Two important considerations are:
- The beneficiary may be subject to medical CDRs during the months that the Ticket is inactive if the beneficiary becomes due for a review during that time. (See 20 CFR Part 411.192).
- If the beneficiary continues receiving services from the EN or State VR agency that originally had his or her Ticket assignment, that service provider can still be compensated if the beneficiary works and achieves the prescribed levels of work and earnings necessary to trigger payment under the Ticket program or the VR Cost Reimbursement program.
- In-Use SVR: A beneficiary has an open case with a State VR agency that is serving the beneficiary under the VR Cost Reimbursement program. Similar to the assigned status, the In-Use SVR status carries with it the protection from medical Continuing Disability Reviews. A Ticket that is In-Use SVR is not available for assignment to an EN (or another State VR agency that is functioning as an EN) until the VR agency closes the case. State VR agencies are responsible for electronically reporting these case closures to the TPM so that the Ticket can be removed from the In-Use SVR status and become available for assignment to an EN for the beneficiary to receive ongoing support to maintain and advance in employment. Three important facts about Tickets that are In-Use SVR are:
- Phase 1 milestones will not be available to an EN that secures the Ticket assignment after VR case closure if the beneficiary was working when VR closed the case ("successful" closure). This exclusion applies to successful VR case closures as far back as January 2002, regardless of how many hours the beneficiary was working or how much the beneficiary was earning when the VR case was closed.
- There is a consecutive 90-day grace period following the VR case closure date during which the beneficiary remains protected from medical CDRs, even if the beneficiary has not assigned the Ticket to an EN. The Ticket can be assigned after 90 days and the medical CDR protection will be reinstated. However, if a CDR begins between the 90th day and the new Ticket assignment date, Social Security will proceed with the review until it is completed.
- There is a 90-day window after VR case closure during which the beneficiary is eligible to assign the Ticket even if his or her disability benefits have ceased. If the Ticket is not assigned during this 90-day period, the beneficiary is no longer eligible to participate in the Ticket program unless or until his or her earnings decrease enough to result in the reinstatement of cash benefits.
- In-Use SVR (Not in Use): A Ticket is classified as "in-use SVR (not in use)" when a beneficiary has an open cost reimbursement case with a State VR agency and the beneficiary did not pass his or her most recent Timely Progress Review (TPR). Although the VR agency can still seek reimbursement for successfully serving a beneficiary whose Ticket is in this status, a beneficiary in this status is no longer protected from medical CDRs.
- Not Assignable: A beneficiary's Ticket is unable to be assigned at the time the status was checked. Reasons a Ticket would not be assignable include: the beneficiary is no longer eligible for disability benefits based on a medical review, the beneficiary is not in current pay status for disability benefits, or the beneficiary is receiving cash benefits under the Section 301 protection.
- Not in Database: The person is not a Social Security beneficiary or the beneficiary is not Ticket-eligible. A person who is no longer receiving Social Security disability benefits based on medical improvement or due to work and earnings would no longer be Ticket-eligible if the Ticket was not assigned at the time the change in status occurred. If an EN or a State VR agency checks a person's Ticket status and receives a "not in the database" response, the person should be referred to the beneficiary helpline, at 866.968.7842 (voice) or 866.833.2967 (TTY) to find out why his or her name is not listed in the database.
- Terminated: A beneficiary who was previously Ticket-eligible is no longer eligible to participate in the Ticket program. This could be the result of failing a medical review due to medical improvement, due to the beneficiary's work and earnings, or based on the beneficiary reaching retirement age.
The governing regulations for the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency program are found at 20 CFR Part 411. The original regulations were published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2001. The revised Ticket regulations, published on May 20, 2008, took effect on July 21, 2008.
When a Ticket is assigned to an Employment Network (EN) or a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency functioning as an EN (VREN) or when a beneficiary is being served by a State VR agency under the VR Cost Reimbursement program, the Social Security Administration conducts annual reviews of the beneficiary's progress toward self-supporting employment.
The postponement of medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs), a key benefit of a beneficiary's participation in the Ticket program, is dependent on the beneficiary using his or her Ticket and making "timely progress" towards self-supporting employment. The idea of making timely progress only relates to keeping the protection from medical CDRs.
A beneficiary who is not making timely progress can still participate in the Ticket program and an EN can still receive payment under the Ticket program on behalf of a beneficiary who did not make timely progress unless a medical review is conducted and the beneficiary is found no longer eligible for disability benefits based on medical improvement. To learn more about Timely Progress Reviews and the criteria Social Security uses to conduct these reviews, visit the Timely Progress Review page. To access a "Timely Progress Review" training, visit the Training page of the Information Center. Look under "Compliance."
The timely progress guidelines consist of work and earnings requirements, educational or training requirements, or a combination of both. For example, the criterion Social Security uses to determine timely progress in moving towards self-supporting employment during the first year of Ticket assignment (the first 12-month Review) is the beneficiary working for three months with earnings at the Trial Work Level (TWL).
Alternatively, the beneficiary must have completed a GED or high-school diploma, or have completed 60% of a full-time course load for an academic year in a college or technical, trade, or vocational training plan. Another alternative is that the beneficiary has completed some combination of this work and education requirement. To learn more about the Timely Progress Guidelines, visit the Requirements page.
A Timely Progress Review (TPR) is Social Security's way to track the progress of a beneficiary who is receiving services under the Ticket to Work program. Social Security expects beneficiaries to make progress towards self-supporting employment while their Tickets are in the "Assigned" or "In-Use SVR" statuses. The TPR is based on Timely Progress Guidelines established in the Ticket program regulations.
Under the regulations, Social Security is required to conduct a review at the end of every 12-month period of Ticket assignment to determine if beneficiaries are making the expected progress toward self-supporting employment. The first 12-month period begins with the Ticket assignment/in-use month. Any month that a Ticket is not assigned or is in inactive status is not counted as part of the 12-month review period. To learn more, visit the Timely Progress Review page.
For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries, Social Security considers earnings to be at the TWL if gross earnings are more than the annual amount designated for trial work or if a beneficiary works more than 80 hours in self-employment in a month. Social Security is authorized to increase the rate for TWL earnings each January.
For the Ticket to Work program, Social Security uses the annual amount designated as TWL earnings to determine an Employment Network's (EN) eligibility for Phase 1 milestone payments under the Milestone/Outcome Payment System regardless of whether the beneficiary is receiving SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The annual rates for TWL earnings from 1978 to the current year are available at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/COLA/twp.html.
After a person becomes eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the TWP allows the beneficiary to test his or her ability to work for at least nine months in a 60-month rolling period. The nine months do not have to be consecutive. During the TWP, a beneficiary will receive full SSDI benefits regardless of his or her earnings as long as the beneficiary reports his or her work activity and continues to have a disabling impairment.
The TWP starts when a beneficiary begins working and performing "services" and is earning at or above the amount Social Security designates as Trial Work Level (TWL) earnings. The TWP cannot begin until the first month a person is entitled to SSDI benefits or the month a person files for benefits, whichever is later. No Work Incentives apply while a beneficiary is in the TWP, although individuals may consider whether any Work Incentives apply during the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE), the continuous 36-month period that follows the TWP. To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
Unearned income is all income not earned from a job or from self-employment. Examples include:
- In-kind support such as food and shelter given to or received by a person but paid for by someone else
- Private pensions and annuities
- Periodic public payments such as Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits
- Life insurance proceeds and other death benefits
- Gifts and inheritances
- Support and alimony payments in cash or in-kind
- Prizes and awards
- Dividends and interest
- Rents and royalties
- Certain payments not considered wages for Social Security purposes
An unsuccessful work attempt is an effort to do substantial work in employment or self-employment that ceases or for which payment is reduced to below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level after a short time, six months or less.
This change must have resulted from the beneficiary's impairment or the removal of special conditions related to the beneficiary's impairment which were essential to the further performance of the work. Social Security does not count earnings during an unsuccessful work attempt when it makes an SGA decision. To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
The EEOC is the Commission tasked with promoting equality of opportunity in the workplace and enforcing Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. To learn more, visit http://www.eeoc.gov/.
Using a Ticket means that a beneficiary has either (1) assigned his/her Ticket to an Employment Network (EN) or a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency acting as an EN (VREN), or (2) is receiving services from a State VR agency under the VR Cost Reimbursement program. In both cases, the beneficiary must be making timely progress towards self-supporting employment as defined by Social Security. One of the key benefits of a beneficiary's participation in the Ticket program is the protection from medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) resulting from a beneficiary using his or her Ticket.
A virtual EN is a service provider that communicates with and provides services to Social Security disability beneficiaries primarily through a website, email, telephone and relay services. Virtual ENs provide services (career counseling, employment preparation services, job placement assistance, benefits planning assistance, post-employment support, etc.) the same as other ENs. The only difference is that virtual ENs do not have face-to-face meetings with beneficiaries.
Virtual ENs provide services to beneficiaries in multiple states, in large geographic areas, or nationwide. Some virtual ENs specialize in work from home jobs, recruit for specific employers or government agencies, assist with self-employment, and/or incorporate self-directed learning, while others offer the more traditional job placement services.
The VR Cost Reimbursement (CR) program, authorized in 1981, provides Social Security the authority to reimburse State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies for the costs of rehabilitation services that result in the successful employment of persons receiving benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program (see Section 222(d) of the Social Security Act) and/or the Supplement Security Income program (see Section 1615 of the Social Security Act).
Only State VR agencies authorized under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, are eligible to receive payments under the CR program. To receive payment, the agency submits a claim when a beneficiary that received services from that agency has been working for nine continuous months within a 12-month period with earnings at or above the amount that Social Security designates as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).
If the claim is approved, Social Security provides a lump sum payment covering the cost of approved VR services and a negotiated fee for the cost of administration, counseling, and placement (ACP) for each month in the VR period of services. VR agencies may also be reimbursed for the cost of approved post-employment services provided after a beneficiary's VR case is closed, as long as payment for those services occurs before the beneficiary's ninth month of SGA-level earnings. To learn more about the CR program, visit the VR Cost Reimbursement Program page.
VRRMS is the management information system that the Social Security Administration uses to facilitate cost reimbursement payments to State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies.
Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, VR services are services considered necessary to assist an eligible person with a disability in preparing for, securing, retaining, or regaining an employment outcome that is consistent with that person's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. Those services are identified in Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and are provided by a State VR agency under Individualized Plans for Employment (IEPs). To learn more about the public VR program, visit the VR Basics page. To learn about how State VR agencies participate in the Ticket to Work program, visit the Public VR Program page.
Work Incentives are special Social Security rules that make it easier for adults with disabilities to work and still receive health care and cash benefits from Social Security. Work Incentives allow persons receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to remain in control of their finances and health care during the transition to work and subsequent financial self-support. The Social Security Red Book has a general overview of all Work Incentives and other types of employment supports available to beneficiaries with disabilities. To learn more, visit http://socialsecurity.gov/redbook/.
Each local Social Security office has a WIL who provides advice and information about Social Security's Work Incentive provisions and employment support programs to beneficiaries with disabilities and outside organizations serving them. Contact the local Social Security office for the name and telephone number of the WIL serving a geographic area.
WIPA projects are organizations that have received grants from the Social Security Administration to assist beneficiaries in making informed choices about work and earnings. WIPA services are free.
WIPAs have Work Incentives experts on staff, known as Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWICs), who can:
- Explain how work and earnings affect a beneficiary's Federal, state, and local benefits
- Identify possible barriers that prevent beneficiaries from achieving their employment goals
- Explain Social Security Work Incentives programs and rules
- Help beneficiaries find resources and services needed to achieve their employment goals
To find the WIPA for your area, visit www.chooseworkttw.net. Click "Find Help."
A Workforce EN is a State Workforce agency, local Workforce Investment Board, or American Job Center operator (previously called One Stop Career Centers) with a current contract with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Employment and Training Administration, as established under Subtitle B of Title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.
Workforce entities that receive funding from DOL under a Disability Employment Initiative grant are required to become ENs as a condition of receipt of funds. Under the Ticket program regulations, Workforce ENs are deemed to have met all qualifications requirements for award of an EN Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA). To learn more, visit the Workforce section of the Employment Networks page.
WIOA reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 which contains amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, which authorizes the Public Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program in Title I. The 2014 amendments to Title I of the Rehabilitation Act include requirements addressing expectations regarding how State VR agencies coordinate their services with other State agencies operating as Employment Networks (ENs) under the Ticket to Work program. State VR agencies are also required to provide Social Security disability beneficiaries with general information about supports and assistance for persons with disabilities who wish to enter the workforce, including assistance with benefits planning.
The WIA provides the framework for a national workforce preparation and employment system designed to meet the needs of businesses, job seekers, and individuals who are interested in furthering their careers. WIA, which was reauthorized in 2014, is now called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
A WIB is a regional entity created to implement the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA). The State WIBs (SWIBs) are responsible for directing Federal, state and local funding to workforce development programs. Every community in the 50 states and the US territories is associated with a local WIB (LWIB).
The makeup of the LWIBs is spelled out in WIA, which requires that a least 50 percent of the members be representatives of private businesses. Beyond these basic guidelines, many aspects of how individual WIBs operate can vary.
WIBs also provide general guidance and oversight for the State's American Job Centers where job seekers can get employment information, find out about career development training opportunities, and connect to various programs in the area. Such services vary by State and WIB.