Citizen Action Needed Now to Prevent Further Delays
Social Security Administration (SSA) Deputy Commissioner Martin Gerry has recently announced yet another delay in the issuance of final Ticket to Work regulations. The first date was to be last spring. Then it was moved back to this fall. Now we are being told that they want to further tweak the details for final approval next spring.
The Ticket to Work Advisory Panel responded that people with disabilities had already waited too long, and requested that the regulations to be issued, with the understanding that certain provisions would be re-drafted and amended later. If SSA does not act now, we can expect still longer delays. The current Social Security Commissioner, Joann Barnhart, is leaving in January. There will be a new acting commissioner until a new commissioner is appointed.
If the new regulations are not implemented, existing problems with the program will persist. Currently, a provider of services, known as an employment network (EN), isn’t paid for providing help with placement and employment training until the person is actually placed and is working. Under these regulations, ENs are losing interest in providing service because they stand a good chance of not ever being paid.
The new regulations would allow for periodic payments to ENs through the whole process of finding work, thus giving ENs more incentive to accept tickets.
Ticket to Work Regs: What Can You Do?
There is less than a month left to urge SSA to implement regulations before January. The time to act is now. Contact the White House and voice your concerns today. Fax: 202-456-2461, e-mail: email@example.com
The message should be brief, not a form letter. Be sure to give your name and address and whether you have a disability or work with people with disabilities.
Here are some pointers, but be sure to put it in your own words.
• On Feb 1, 2001 President Bush signed the New Freedom Initiative, which called on the SSA to “swiftly implement the law giving Americans with disabilities the ability to choose their own support services and to maintain their health benefits when they return to work.”
• Taking three years to implement needed improvements to the regulations is not “swift implementation.”
• Because the current regulations and payment system cost ENs more money than they receive to assist Ticket users, the majority of current ENs are not “taking Tickets.”
• The wait has been so long that each day the reputation of the Ticket to Work as a failed program grows. People with disabilities had so much hope when the Work Incentives Act was passed in 2000 with the interim regulations in place. It will be unconscionable if their hopes for independence are squelched by the dragging of feet on the part of the SSA.
• It is imperative that the final Ticket to Work regulations be published now.
Thank you for any assistance you can give.
Kathleen R. Hagen, Attorney-at-Law, Protection and Advocacy of Beneficiaries of Social Security, Minnesota Disability Law Center