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REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS RELEASED BY SSA
FOR EMPLOYMENT NETWORKS FOR THE TICKET TO WORK PROGRAM
NAMI E-News April 20, 2001 Vol. 01-94
As part of the continuing implementation of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (TWWIIA), the Social Security Administration (SSA) has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Employment Networks for the Ticket to Work Program. Employment Networks (ENs) are currently being recruited in the initial 13 states that are participating this year in the phased-in Ticket to Work Program. These states are Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin. By February 2003, all 50 states are expected to be phased-in and participating in the Ticket Program.
As NAMI E-News readers know, the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program is a major feature of TWWIIA and offers beneficiaries enrolled in the SSI and/or SSDI programs a "ticket" which they may use to obtain employment, training or vocational services of their choice from an Employment Network (EN). The Ticket to Work Program is intended to maximize consumer choice by allowing beneficiaries to select their own employment or rehabilitation provider and to pay that provider based only on a successful outcome- defined in the law as successfully getting people in a job and off of SSI and/or SSDI benefits.
Consistent with these goals, NAMI supports the Ticket Program and views this RFP as an important opportunity for psychosocial rehabilitation programs, clubhouses, and consumer-run programs to better serve SSI and SSDI beneficiaries with severe mental illnesses. In NAMI's view, the Ticket Program is the most promising development in years for expanding employment and rehabilitation opportunities for consumers outside the publicly-funded vocational rehabilitation (VR) monopoly. It is therefore critically important for NAMI advocates to begin working with psychosocial rehabilitation agencies, clubhouses, and consumer-run programs in the 13 pilot states to make sure they are aware of this RFP and plan to participate and serve consumers who are ready to enter the workforce.
NAMI recently submitted extensive comments on the positive aspects and deficiencies of SSA's regulations for the Ticket to Work Program that can be accessed online at http://www.nami.org/update/20010227.html
Background on Employment Networks under TWIIA
Under TWWIIA, SSI and SSDI beneficiaries who voluntarily choose to participate in the Ticket Program will receive employment services, vocational rehabilitation services or other support services from organizations called Employment Networks. After beneficiaries receive their ticket from SSA, they will assign their ticket to an EN of their choice for services. Employment networks are not permitted to charge beneficiaries for their services, but instead will contract with SSA who will pay ENs directly for providing services to beneficiaries.
An Employment Network can be but is not limited to:
- Any public or private entity that can provide directly or arrange for appropriate employment services including job readiness, placement, VR, training, support and/or retention services for individuals with disabilities. This includes non-profit clubhouses, psychosocial rehabilitation programs, CMHCs and consumer-run programs.
- One Stop delivery systems established under the Workforce Investment Act.
- State VR agencies under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- Organizations administering VR Service Projects for American Indians with disabilities authorized under special sections in Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
- Alternate Participants (APs) currently operating under contract with SSA.
- Public or private schools providing appropriate employment-related skills training, VR services, transitional education or career development services or programs.
- Employers that offer (or arrange for) job training, vocational rehabilitation, support, retention, or other types of job-related services and/or assistance for individuals with disabilities.
FULL TEXT OF RFP
The full text of the Employment Network RFP can be accessed at http://www.eps.gov/spg/SSA/DCFIAM/OAG/SSA-RFP-01-0010/Attachments.html Scroll down to RFP 01-0010, Employment Networks.
SSA has contracted with MAXIMUS, Inc. to serve as Program Manager of the Ticket to Work Program. The Program Manager of the Ticket to Work Program is responsible for recruiting Employment Networks, helping beneficiaries access ENs, and ensuring availability and reasonable access to services. For more information on becoming an Employment Network or on the Ticket program contact MAXIMUS at:
TTY (1-866-833-2967) (1-866-TDD 2 WORK)
More Background on Tickets for Beneficiaries under TWWIIA
The Ticket to Work Program will be available for SSI/SSDI beneficiaries that live in the 13 states listed above in 2001. The rest of the States will be phased-in over a three year period ending in February 2003. Although most Social Security and SSI beneficiaries with disabilities will receive a ticket, there are provisions in the final rules that will hinder some beneficiaries disabled with serious mental illnesses from entering the program expeditiously or at all. Please refer to the NAMI comments noted above for more information on these restrictions http://www.nami.org/update/20010227.html.
SSA has proposed that all beneficiaries with disabilities who are between the ages of 18 and 65 will be eligible for a ticket except those who:
(1) are not receiving a Federal benefit
(2) are medically expected to improve and have not had their first
continuing disability review (CDR),
(3) are SSI recipients and are not receiving benefits based on the adult standard.
SSA will send eligible beneficiaries a Ticket in the mail. The Ticket will have the beneficiary's name and social security number printed on it. Information about the program and a guide will be sent along with the Ticket. SSA will send more information after a EN has been assigned.
The Ticket to Work program is voluntary. Social Security benefits will not be affected if a SSI/SSDI recipient decides not to participate in the program.
Also, there is not set time limit to use the Ticket. As long as beneficiaries continue to meet the eligibility criteria, they can hold onto the ticket until they want to participate in the program. There are restrictions, however, on the amount of use of the Ticket. Basically, beneficiaries are eligible to participate in the Ticket Program as long as they are receiving a cash benefit from Social Security that is based on a disability. Once an Employment Network has received 60 monthly payments from Social Security for services for a beneficiary, the program will terminate. In addition, as long as a beneficiary meets the Ticket participation requirements, beneficiaries who decide to participate in the program will be exempted from CDRs.
More information for beneficiaries on the Ticket program is available on the SSA website at http://www.ssa.gov/work/ResourcesToolkit/legisreg2.html