Working with Beneficiaries
Employment Networks (ENs) have certain responsibilities to beneficiaries seeking assistance under the Ticket to Work program, as spelled out in Part III-Section 3 of the EN Request for Application (RFA). This includes providing specific information to individuals eligible to participate in the Ticket program and securing Ticket assignments through the development of Individual Work Plans (IWP). Some ENs check Ticket eligibility and assignability prior to providing information on the Ticket program, while others wait until a person has expressed a definite interest in participating in the program. ENs can check Ticket assignability using the Ticket Portal.
ENs must provide the following information to every beneficiary interested in participating in the Ticket program:
- The goal of the program is to provide beneficiaries access to services and supports to increase a person's ability to work, earn more than benefits alone, and eventually become and stay self-supporting to the extent possible.
- Participation in the program is free and voluntary. ENs cannot charge for services provided under the program and there is no penalty if a beneficiary chooses not to participate.
- One benefit of participation is that regularly scheduled medical reviews are postponed while a Ticket is in use as long as the beneficiary is making expected progress towards self-supporting employment as defined in the Ticket regulations.
- There are safety nets to encourage beneficiaries to pursue work.
- Medicare, and possibly Medicaid, coverage may continue after cash benefits cease due to work and earnings.
- An Expedited Reinstatement to Benefits (EXR) allows a beneficiary who entered the workforce and lost his/her job within five years of benefit cessation to receive up to six months of provisional benefits. During this time Social Security will conduct a medical review to determine if the person is still eligible for benefits based on his/her disabling or medical condition.
- A beneficiary's signature on the Individual Work Plan (IWP) notes his/her consent to assign the Ticket to that EN. In agreeing to assign the Ticket, the beneficiary is committing to make a steady effort to achieve self-supporting employment. A beneficiary who is unable to become fully self-supporting will not be penalized.
- A beneficiary can start working and earning any amount during the first nine months of program participation; however, the beneficiary's goal should be to eventually become self-supporting. Program participants are expected to work towards monthly earnings at the Trial Work level no later than the 10th month after entering the program, and at the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level within 13 months of starting work.
ENs are not to say or imply that a beneficiary can work part-time indefinitely with the support of an EN or that the EN will support or enable "parking" (artificially manipulating a beneficiary's work and earnings to remain on cash benefits).
ENs should provide a full explanation of the services they offer to enable beneficiaries to make informed choices about assigning their tickets to the EN, their employment goals and the services needed to achieve those goals.