TN 1 (10-02)
DI 55001.500 Repeal of Referral Authority for Rehabilitation Services In States Where the Ticket to Work Program Is Implemented
A. Introduction - change in referral process
The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-170) eliminates SSA's authority to refer title II beneficiaries and title XVI recipients for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services in ticket States (i.e., States in which the Ticket to Work program has been implemented).
Section 101(b)(1)(B) of P.L. 106-170 repeals SSA's authority to refer title II beneficiaries with disabilities to State VR agencies and Alternate Participants (APs) for rehabilitation services in States where the Ticket to Work program is implemented. Section 101(b)(2)(A) of P.L. 106-170 amends title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act) to eliminate SSA's authority to refer title XVI disability or blind recipients to the State VR agencies and APs for VR services where the Ticket program is implemented. The amendment to title XVI of the Act requires SSA to continue to refer title XVI recipients who have not attained the age of 16 to the appropriate State agency administering the State program under title V of the Act.
This change in the referral process goes into effect in States where the Ticket to Work program has been implemented. The current VR referral system remains operative in States where the Ticket to Work program has not yet been implemented. (See DI 55001.001A.)
B. Policy – impact of change in SSA’s referral authority
1. Field Offices (FO) in ticket states
Prior to the implementation of the Ticket to Work program, each FO was required to consider each claimant's potential to benefit from rehabilitation services and provide referral information. (See DI 26520.000 – DI 26520.035.) These FO referral requirements are eliminated once the Ticket to Work program is implemented in the FO's State or Territory.
2. Disability Determination Services (DDS) in ticket states
In States in which the Ticket to Work program has been implemented, P.L. 106-170 removes the statutory authority under which DDSs make referrals of allowed or denied SSDI/SSI disability applicants or beneficiaries whose benefits are continued or ceased to a State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency for rehabilitation services. Upon receiving notice that SSA is issuing tickets in a State, the DDS in that State must stop making referrals to State VR agencies.
C. Policy - ticket state questions and answers on referrals
Field Offices (FO) and Disability Determination Services (DDS) sometimes work closely with State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies when a person files an application for benefits. The Qs/As below should help clarify the FO and DDS relationship with the State VR agency based on the changes made by Public Law 106-170.
1. FO related questions in ticket states
Question. Can we include or invite a representative from our local State VR agency to participate in presentations we make about SSA's Ticket to Work program? In the past we have included them in these presentations.
Answer. Yes. You should invite ENs to participate as well. Also, if you receive a request from an EN to participate in presentations you are making, they must be allowed to participate if you would have allowed your local State VR agency to participate.
Question. For years we have displayed public information (PI) about our State's VR program in our office. Can we continue to display this information?
Answer. Yes, if you display PI about other programs that would benefit our customers. Also, if ENs in your service area request to place their PI information in the office, it must be displayed in the same manner that you allow for the display of PI materials or information from other entities.
Question. We have staff from the local State VR agency onsite weekly to discuss their services with disability applicants. I understand that the FO is not allowed to refer applicants anymore once SSA is issuing tickets, but the State VR agency person is still on site. Do we tell them not to come to our office anymore?
Answer. The issue is one of providing a balanced opportunity to explain a provider's services. If you afford your local State VR agency the opportunity to talk to applicants, you must also afford ENs the same opportunity. If you make space available in the FO for State VR agency staff you must make space available for an EN. Remember SSA must avoid any display of favoritism or give the impression that one entity has a greater opportunity to market its services to beneficiaries.
Question. What should I do if an individual inquires about State VR agency services?
Answer. If the individual has received a ticket, you should refer the individual to MAXIMUS. If the individual has not received a ticket, you should handle this request just like any other inquiry. You can provide any general information you may have about the local State VR agency, including its address and telephone number.
2. DDS related questions in ticket states
Question. Why can't we refer denials and CDR cessations to State VR agencies? Some of these individuals could possibly benefit from VR services.
Answer. In States in which the Ticket to Work program has been implemented, Public Law 106-170 repeals the statutory authority SSA had to make referrals to State VR agencies. Thus, the authority under which a DDS makes referrals of SSA beneficiary/recipient's information to the State VR agency ceases to exist once the Ticket to Work program is implemented in the State. However, DDSs are still required to refer any blind or disabled individual who has not attained age 16 and to whom SSI benefits are paid, to the appropriate State agency in the DDS' State administering the State program under title V of the Social Security Act.
Question. I realize that a DDS can no longer make SSA disability case referrals to the State VR agency, but is it permissible for a State VR agency to have its staff review Social Security/SSI disability claims in the DDS to identify potential customers?
Answer. DDS records and information used in the adjudication of applications for SSDI and SSI disabled or blind benefits, or in the determination of continued eligibility for disability benefits under a CDR, are confidential and cannot be disclosed without a written Authorization for Release of Information signed by the beneficiary or the beneficiary's authorized representative.