What Is the Ticket to Work Program?
The Ticket to Work program is a program that helps individuals who receive Social Security disability find work and reduce their dependence on benefits. Through the Ticket to Work program, individuals with disabilities who receive either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are connected to employment networks or the state public Vocational Rehabilitation program.
The recipients assign a “ticket” to the employment networks who, in exchange, help the recipients find and maintain employment. One of the benefits is that the program can help recipients find employment that provides great health benefits and wages higher than the disability benefits. Yet, one of the issues that occurs in the program is the issue of overpayments.
What were the recent findings from the GAO concerning the Ticket to Work program?
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently conducted an analysis on how the program is affecting the Social Security Administration. Some of the results discovered from the analysis were that participants in the Ticket to Work program earned an estimated $2,451 more per year than their counterparts who did not participate in the program; these participants were also more likely than their counterparts to leave their disability benefits.
The analysis also revealed that the costs of the program exceeded the savings in benefits by about $806 million between 2002 and 2015. The analysis also revealed that overpayments cost the Social Security Administration an estimated additional $133-169 million.
How did the GAO gather their data on the Ticket to Work program?
The GAO used the Social Security Administration data from 2002 to 2018. From this data, the GAO estimated that participants who started the Ticket to Work program earned an average of $2,451 more than nonparticipants within five years of participating in the program. However, there were a majority of participants who remained unemployed after five years of participating in the program.
The GAO analysis also revealed that the costs of the program exceeded the savings in disability benefits to Social Security by an estimated $806 million. The analysis revealed that participants who were similar in a variety of characteristics like age, gender, disability type, and education level were a little more likely to leave the benefits than nonparticipants. A greater percentage of participants were also discovered to leave the benefits because of work, as opposed to other reasons like medical improvement.
How can overpayments occur in the Ticket to Work Program?
The analysis revealed that Social Security accumulated an additional $133 to $169 million in costs from disability benefit overpayments to participants in the Ticket to Work program. Overpayments happen in the program when participants who work fail to report their earnings to Social Security or the agency delays in adjusting their benefit amounts. The costs of the agency expands when a recipient is allowed to keep overpayments or exhausts its resources trying to recover them.
GAO deduces that participants in the Ticket to Work program were more than twice as likely to receive overpayments within five years of starting the program. While Social Security is in the process of investigating the source of overpayments across all of its benefit programs, overpayments in the Ticket to Work program have, for the most part, been overlooked.
One reason why Social Security may have overlooked the amount of overpayments received by participants in the program is due to the participants’ unique ties to employment networks. For example, participants in the program may assume that service providers will report their earnings to Social Security.
Why did GAO decide to conduct this analysis?
Social Security pays billions of dollars in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to individuals with disabilities. The Ticket to Work program was established by the agency in 1999 to help recipients obtain employment and reduce the amount of dependence on disability benefits.
GAO conducted this analysis to study both the extent to which the program has led to increased earnings and other benefits for recipients, and the manner in which the costs and savings from the program transitioned over time. The organization hopes that by discovering the source for overpayments among the participants in the Ticket to Work program, the participants will see a reduction in repayment obligations and taxpayers will see an increase in savings for Social Security.
People often think that you shouldn’t get an attorney in a Social Security Disability case until they’ve been denied either once or twice, and they’re waiting for a hearing. The attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A., however, advocate that you come to us as soon as you think you want to do it, even before you’ve filed the initial application. We welcome the opportunity to speak to you about your Social Security Disability claim. We serve clients throughout the state of Maryland. Please call us at 410-730-7737 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.
Joshua Plaxen graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2008 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, and graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2012 magna cum laude. He was also inducted into the Heuisler Honor Society for finishing in the top ten percent of his class. During law school, Joshua served on the Executive Board of the University of Baltimore Law Review.