Wednesday, February 6, 2002 |
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Department Prepares for Rollout of Ticket To Work Program
The Department supports the concept but is critical of the federal
MADISON – Department of Workforce Development Secretary Jennifer Reinert
announced today the department is preparing for the rollout of the
federal Ticket to Work program, but remains concerned about the effect
it will have on the current caseload in the Division of Vocational
The Ticket to Work program is part of new legislation signed into law in
1999, and its goal is to increase choices for Social Security
beneficiaries with disabilities in obtaining employment, vocational
rehabilitation or other support services from public and private
providers. The Social Security Administration suspends Continuing
Disability Reviews while the individual is making progress toward
The ticket will be mailed out by the Social Security Administration to
Social Security beneficiaries beginning this week. About 126,000 tickets
will be mailed to Wisconsin residents currently receiving SSI/SSDI
benefits. The ticket will allow the ticket holder to obtain services
that will help them go to work for the first time, or return to work.
The ticket can be used to access services from an approved Employment
Network, which must agree to take the ticket.
"We wholeheartedly agree with the concept of the Ticket to Work
legislation, but remain gravely concerned about the impact it will have
on our current caseload in the DVR program. The program has recently
been financially strained by the tremendous demand for employment
services for people with disabilities, and the Ticket to Work
legislation is going to strain it even further without providing
additional resources to handle the influx of people coming in for
services," said Secretary Reinert.
The DVR program, with current staff and resources, can handle an active
caseload of 19,700. The current caseload is 20,900.
"If the Ticket to Work pilot in Oklahoma is any indication of what will
happen when these tickets are sent to SSI and SSDI recipients in
Wisconsin, about 12,600 recipients will be seeking employment services,"
said DVR Administrator Charlene Dwyer.
The department created a waiting list for services last October when it
did not have enough resources to serve all people with disabilities
seeking employment services. The department has been working diligently
to reduce and eventually eliminate that waiting list by activating more
than 7,500 cases since January 2001 leaving a remaining 346 on the
"We support the department’s efforts to reduce the waiting list for
services for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, the very fast pace
for the Ticket to Work program roll out has the potential of undoing all
of the great strides that have been made in this area. It’s a travesty
that SSA is not heeding the concerns of states like Wisconsin, when it
comes to implementation," said Linda Vegoe, chairperson of the Wisconsin
"While we certainly would like to serve everyone who comes through our
doors for services, it is simply not possible with our current
resources. This is not only unfortunate from the individual’s
standpoint, but for the entire state as businesses experience a shortage
of workers," said Secretary Reinert.
"The way the Ticket to Work program is being implemented may confuse DVR
clients who are already on the waiting list for services, or receiving
services from DVR. That is why we have a toll free number that people
can call with questions, or if they are interested in receiving DVR
services. The number is 866-445-1522," added Reinert.
Employment networks can earn about $280 per month for up to 60 months
from the SSA for each Ticket holder who has been successfully employed
and is no longer receiving SSI/SSDI benefits. If a person never gains
employment or never goes off SSI/SSDI benefits there is no payment to
"This funding structure is going to put a great deal of pressure on the
DVR budget, and may significantly increase the waiting
list. DVR is required by federal law to serve people with the most
significant disabilities first, which often means it takes much longer
to achieve successful employment," said Secretary Reinert.
The department did attempt to extend the rollout period for the Ticket
to Work program and secure additional federal funding, to no avail.
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