Social Security Administration: Better Planning Could Make the Ticket Program More Effective

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages the two largest federal disability benefit programs and made approximately $75 billion in payments to about 8 million beneficiaries (ages 18 through 64) in 2003. Given the size of its programs, even small improvements in SSA's ability to return beneficiaries to work offer the potential for significant savings. Until recently, Social Security beneficiaries who needed help returning to work generally had to seek services from state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies. Few beneficiaries used these services or successfully returned to work. ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. March 2, 2005.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages the two largest federal disability benefit programs and made approximately $75 billion in payments to about 8 million beneficiaries (ages 18 through 64) in 2003. Given the size of its programs, even small improvements in SSA's ability to return beneficiaries to work offer the potential for significant savings. Until recently, Social Security beneficiaries who needed help returning to work generally had to seek services from state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies. Few beneficiaries used these services or successfully returned to work. Therefore, Congress passed the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (Ticket Act, P.L. 106-170) to create a Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program (the Ticket program). The program's goals are to expand the availability of service providers and to help enable beneficiaries to return to work, become selfsufficient, and stop receiving disability benefit payments. Eligible beneficiaries can use their tickets as vouchers to request vocational rehabilitation, employment, or other support services from the traditional state VR agencies or from new SSA-approved public or private providers, which are referred to as employment networks (EN). The act required SSA to implement the Ticket program and make tickets available to all eligible beneficiaries. SSA decided to use three phases to make tickets available: (1) beginning with 13 states in February 2002, (2) expanding to 20 more states and the District of Columbia in November 2002, and (3) expanding to the final 17 states and 5 territories in November 2003. The act also required SSA to perform several periodic and independent evaluations of the program. For example, SSA was mandated to periodically review the systems used to make payments to the providers and was also given authority to make needed changes. The act also required SSA to provide Congress with three independent evaluations of the effectiveness of program activities. Finally, the act created the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel (the Advisory Panel) to include experts on employment and related services and representatives of individuals with disabilities to provide advice and reports on the program to SSA, the Congress, and the President. The Congress also mandated in the Social Security Protection Act of 2004 that GAO evaluate the Ticket program and provide a report to Congress by March 2, 2005. The statute requires that GAO (1) examine the annual and interim reports issued by the Commissioner of Social Security and the Advisory Panel, (2) assess the effectiveness of the activities carried out under the program, and (3) recommend legislative or administrative changes, if appropriate. To meet these requirements, our report examines: (1) the progress SSA has made in implementing and evaluating the Ticket program and achieving its goals, (2) the problems that have limited the program's ability to achieve its goals, (3) the recommendations to better achieve the goals of the program made by the Advisory Panel, researchers, and service providers, and (4) the challenges SSA faces in implementing changes to achieve the program's goals."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • March 2, 2005

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Social Security Administration: Better Planning Could Make the Ticket Program More Effective, report, March 2, 2005; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc301592/: accessed September 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.