CHN: Social Security Disability Program Gets Mixed Reviews
Witnesses Testify About Successes and Weaknesses of the Ticket to Work Program
In a hearing on Thursday, September 26, witnesses reported on both the challenges and opportunities facing Social Security’s disability programs, focusing specifically on the implementation of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999. Testifying before the House Social Security Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee, witness remarks focused on the legislation’s goal of removing barriers and increasing incentives for disabled individuals who are returning to or seeking work.
According to the testimony of Martin Gerry, Deputy Commissioner for Disability and Income Security Policy, one of the weaknesses of the current program is that the four hundred registered service providers are not sufficient in number and training to meet the needs of the 7,000 Ticket to Work beneficiaries. Panelists commented on the need for service providers with a diversity of both geographic location and specialization. Susan Prokop, Co-Chair of the Work Incentives Task Force and a representative of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, emphasized the importance of ensuring “that the Ticket program is attracting a broad range of providers and serving all individuals with disabilities.”
Panelists raised additional concerns about Ticket to Work beneficiaries’ access to health care, service providers’ and employers’ education about the program, and whether Social Security is devoting sufficient resources to allowing the program to fulfill its potential. The Subcommittee pledged to address these concerns. Plans for the program’s future include an expansion in the number of states that receive work tickets – from the current thirteen states to all fifty – by next year.