The Commissioner shall establish a Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program, under which a disabled beneficiary may use a ticket to work and self-sufficiency issued by the Commissioner in accordance with this section to obtain employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services from an employment network which is of the beneficiary’s choice and which is willing to provide such services to such beneficiary.
A ticket issued under paragraph (1) shall consist of a document which evidences the Commissioner’s agreement to pay (as provided in paragraph (4)) an employment network, which is serving under the Program and to which such ticket is assigned by the beneficiary, for such employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services as the employment network may provide to the beneficiary.
The Commissioner shall pay an employment network under the Program in accordance with the outcome payment system under subsection (h)(2) or under the outcome-milestone payment system under subsection (h)(3) (whichever is elected pursuant to subsection (h)(1)). An employment network may not request or receive compensation for such services from the beneficiary.
Each State agency administering or supervising the administration of the State plan approved under title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 720 et seq.) may elect to participate in the Program as an employment network with respect to a disabled beneficiary. If the State agency does elect to participate in the Program, the State agency also shall elect to be paid under the outcome payment system or the outcome-milestone payment system in accordance with subsection (h)(1). With respect to a disabled beneficiary that the State agency does not elect to have participate in the Program, the State agency shall be paid for services provided to that beneficiary under the system for payment applicable under section 422(d) of this title and subsections (d) and (e) of section 1382d of this title. The Commissioner shall provide for periodic opportunities for exercising such elections.
In any case in which a State agency described in paragraph (1) elects under that paragraph to participate in the Program, the employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services which, upon assignment of tickets to work and self-sufficiency, are provided to disabled beneficiaries by the State agency acting as an employment network shall be governed by plans for vocational rehabilitation services approved under title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 720 et seq.).
State agencies and employment networks shall enter into agreements regarding the conditions under which services will be provided when an individual is referred by an employment network to a State agency for services. The Commissioner shall establish by regulations the timeframe within which such agreements must be entered into and the mechanisms for dispute resolution between State agencies and employment networks with respect to such agreements.
The Commissioner shall enter into agreements with 1 or more organizations in the private or public sector for service as a program manager to assist the Commissioner in administering the Program. Any such program manager shall be selected by means of a competitive bidding process, from among organizations in the private or public sector with available expertise and experience in the field of vocational rehabilitation or employment services.
In any State where the Program is being implemented, the Commissioner shall enter into an agreement with any alternate participant that is operating under the authority of section 422(d)(2) of this title in the State as of December 17, 1999, and chooses to serve as an employment network under the Program.
The Commissioner shall provide for such periodic reviews as are necessary to provide for effective quality assurance in the provision of services by employment networks. The Commissioner shall solicit and consider the views of consumers and the program manager under which the employment networks serve and shall consult with providers of services to develop performance measurements. The Commissioner shall ensure that the results of the periodic reviews are made available to beneficiaries who are prospective service recipients as they select employment networks. The Commissioner shall ensure that the periodic surveys of beneficiaries receiving services under the Program are designed to measure customer service satisfaction.
The Commissioner shall provide for a mechanism for resolving disputes between beneficiaries and employment networks, between program managers and employment networks, and between program managers and providers of services. The Commissioner shall afford a party to such a dispute a reasonable opportunity for a full and fair review of the matter in dispute.
A program manager shall recruit, and recommend for selection by the Commissioner, employment networks for service under the Program. The program manager shall carry out such recruitment and provide such recommendations, and shall monitor all employment networks serving in the Program in the geographic area covered under the program manager’s agreement, to the extent necessary and appropriate to ensure that adequate choices of services are made available to beneficiaries. Employment networks may serve under the Program only pursuant to an agreement entered into with the Commissioner under the Program incorporating the applicable provisions of this section and regulations thereunder, and the program manager shall provide and maintain assurances to the Commissioner that payment by the Commissioner to employment networks pursuant to this section is warranted based on compliance by such employment networks with the terms of such agreement and this section. The program manager shall not impose numerical limits on the number of employment networks to be recommended pursuant to this paragraph.
A program manager shall facilitate access by beneficiaries to employment networks. The program manager shall ensure that each beneficiary is allowed changes in employment networks without being deemed to have rejected services under the Program. When such a change occurs, the program manager shall reassign the ticket based on the choice of the beneficiary. Upon the request of the employment network, the program manager shall make a determination of the allocation of the outcome or milestone-outcome payments based on the services provided by each employment network. The program manager shall establish and maintain lists of employment networks available to beneficiaries and shall make such lists generally available to the public. The program manager shall ensure that all information provided to disabled beneficiaries pursuant to this paragraph is provided in accessible formats.
The program manager shall take such measures as are necessary to ensure that sufficient employment networks are available and that each beneficiary receiving services under the Program has reasonable access to employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services. Services provided under the Program may include case management, work incentives planning, supported employment, career planning, career plan development, vocational assessment, job training, placement, follow-up services, and such other services as may be specified by the Commissioner under the Program. The program manager shall ensure that such services are available in each service area.
Each employment network serving under the Program shall consist of an agency or instrumentality of a State (or a political subdivision thereof) or a private entity, that assumes responsibility for the coordination and delivery of services under the Program to individuals assigning to the employment network tickets to work and self-sufficiency issued under subsection (b).
No employment network may serve under the Program unless it meets and maintains compliance with both general selection criteria (such as professional and educational qualifications, where applicable) and specific selection criteria (such as substantial expertise and experience in providing relevant employment services and supports).
An employment network shall consist of either a single provider of such services or of an association of such providers organized so as to combine their resources into a single entity. An employment network may meet the requirements of subsection (e)(4) by providing services directly, or by entering into agreements with other individuals or entities providing appropriate employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services.
Each employment network shall prepare periodic reports, on at least an annual basis, itemizing for the covered period specific outcomes achieved with respect to specific services provided by the employment network. Such reports shall conform to a national model prescribed under this section. Each employment network shall provide a copy of the latest report issued by the employment network pursuant to this paragraph to each beneficiary upon enrollment under the Program for services to be received through such employment network. Upon issuance of each report to each beneficiary, a copy of the report shall be maintained in the files of the employment network. The program manager shall ensure that copies of all such reports issued under this paragraph are made available to the public under reasonable terms.
A beneficiary’s individual work plan shall take effect upon written approval by the beneficiary or a representative of the beneficiary and a representative of the employment network that, in providing such written approval, acknowledges assignment of the beneficiary’s ticket to work and self-sufficiency.
The Program shall provide for payment authorized by the Commissioner to employment networks under either an outcome payment system or an outcome-milestone payment system. Each employment network shall elect which payment system will be utilized by the employment network, and, for such period of time as such election remains in effect, the payment system so elected shall be utilized exclusively in connection with such employment network (except as provided in subparagraph (B)).
Any election of a payment system by an employment network that would result in a change in the method of payment to the employment network for services provided to a beneficiary who is receiving services from the employment network at the time of the election shall not be effective with respect to payment for services provided to that beneficiary and the method of payment previously selected shall continue to apply with respect to such services.
The outcome payment system shall provide for a schedule of payments to an employment network, in connection with each individual who is a beneficiary, for each month, during the individual’s outcome payment period, for which benefits (described in paragraphs (3) and (4) of subsection (k)) are not payable to such individual because of work or earnings.
The outcome-milestone payment system shall provide for 1 or more milestones, with respect to beneficiaries receiving services from an employment network under the Program, that are directed toward the goal of permanent employment. Such milestones shall form a part of a payment structure that provides, in addition to payments made during outcome payment periods, payments made prior to outcome payment periods in amounts based on the attainment of such milestones.
The payment schedule of the outcome milestone payment system shall be designed so that the total of the payments to the employment network with respect to each beneficiary is less than, on a net present value basis (using an interest rate determined by the Commissioner that appropriately reflects the cost of funds faced by providers), the total amount to which payments to the employment network with respect to the beneficiary would be limited if the employment network were paid under the outcome payment system.
The Commissioner shall periodically review the percentage specified in paragraph (2)(C), the total payments permissible under paragraph (3)(C), and the period of time specified in paragraph (4)(B) to determine whether such percentages, such permissible payments, and such period provide an adequate incentive for employment networks to assist beneficiaries to enter the workforce, while providing for appropriate economies. The Commissioner may alter such percentage, such total permissible payments, or such period of time to the extent that the Commissioner determines, on the basis of the Commissioner’s review under this paragraph, that such an alteration would better provide the incentive and economies described in the preceding sentence.
The Commissioner shall periodically review the number and amounts of milestone payments established by the Commissioner pursuant to this section to determine whether they provide an adequate incentive for employment networks to assist beneficiaries to enter the workforce, taking into account information provided to the Commissioner by program managers, the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel established by section 101(f) of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, and other reliable sources. The Commissioner may from time to time alter the number and amounts of milestone payments initially established by the Commissioner pursuant to this section to the extent that the Commissioner determines that such an alteration would allow an adequate incentive for employment networks to assist beneficiaries to enter the workforce. Such alteration shall be based on information provided to the Commissioner by program managers, the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel established by section 101(f) of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, or other reliable sources.
During any period for which an individual is using, as defined by the Commissioner, a ticket to work and self-sufficiency issued under this section, the Commissioner (and any applicable State agency) may not initiate a continuing disability review or other review under section 421 of this title of whether the individual is or is not under a disability or a review under subchapter XVI similar to any such review under section 421 of this title.
There are authorized to be transferred from the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund each fiscal year such sums as may be necessary to make payments to employment networks under this section. Money paid from the Trust Funds under this section with respect to title II disability beneficiaries who are entitled to benefits under section 423 of this title or who are entitled to benefits under section 402(d) of this title on the basis of the wages and self-employment income of such beneficiaries, shall be charged to the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, and all other money paid from the Trust Funds under this section shall be charged to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund.
The term “title II disability beneficiary” means an individual entitled to disability insurance benefits under section 423 of this title or to monthly insurance benefits under section 402 of this title based on such individual’s disability (as defined in section 423(d) of this title). An individual is a title II disability beneficiary for each month for which such individual is entitled to such benefits.
The term “title XVI disability beneficiary” means an individual eligible for supplemental security income benefits under subchapter XVI on the basis of blindness (within the meaning of section 1382c(a)(2) of this title) or disability (within the meaning of section 1382c(a)(3) of this title). An individual is a title XVI disability beneficiary for each month for which such individual is eligible for such benefits.