[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 98 (Tuesday, May 20, 2008)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 29324-29351]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-10879]



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Part IV





Social Security Administration





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20 CFR Part 411



Amendments to the Ticket To Work and Self-Sufficiency Program; Final 
Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 98 / Tuesday, May 20, 2008 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 29324]]


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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

20 CFR Part 411

[Docket No. SSA-2006-0092]
RIN 0960-AF89


Amendments to the Ticket To Work and Self-Sufficiency Program

AGENCY: Social Security Administration.

ACTION: Final Rules.

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SUMMARY: We are revising our regulations for the Ticket to Work and 
Self-Sufficiency Program (Ticket to Work program), which was authorized 
by the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999. The 
Ticket to Work program provides Social Security Disability Insurance 
and disabled Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries expanded 
options for access to employment services, vocational rehabilitation 
services, and other support services. We are revising our prior rules 
to improve the overall effectiveness of the program to maximize the 
economic self-sufficiency of beneficiaries through work opportunities. 
We have based these revisions on our projections of the future 
direction of the Ticket to Work program, our experience using the prior 
rules, and recommendations made by commenters on the program.

DATES: These final rules are effective July 21, 2008.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan O'Brien, Office of Employment 
Support Programs, Social Security Administration, 107 Altmeyer 
Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235-6401, e-mail to 
regulations@ssa.gov, or telephone (410) 597-1632 for information about 
these rules. For information on eligibility or filing for benefits, 
call our national toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-
0778, or visit our Internet site, Social Security Online, http://
www.socialsecurity.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Electronic Version

    The electronic file of this document is available on the date of 
publication in the Federal Register at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/
index.html.

Background

    These final rules amending the Ticket to Work program are based on 
Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Federal Register 
on September 30, 2005 (70 FR 57222) and August 13, 2007 (72 FR 45191).
    We explain the provisions of the final rules below. In the section 
``Public Comments,'' we summarize the public comments and explain our 
reasons for adopting or not adopting the recommendations made by the 
commenters. The text of the final rules follows the Public Comments 
section.

What Programs Are Affected by These Final Rules?

    These final rules affect the Ticket to Work program. In the Ticket 
to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 Congress explicitly 
recognized that, while many people who receive disability benefits from 
us want to work, and may have the potential to work, they face a number 
of significant barriers that may prevent them from reaching their 
goals. According to the authorizing legislation, Congress established 
the Ticket to Work program to provide disability beneficiaries a real 
choice in obtaining the services and technology that they need to find, 
enter, and maintain employment by expanding the universe of service 
providers. We published final regulations implementing the Ticket to 
Work program on December 28, 2001 (66 FR 67370).
    Under the Ticket to Work program, the Commissioner of Social 
Security (the Commissioner) may issue tickets to Social Security 
disability beneficiaries and to disabled or blind Supplemental Security 
Income (SSI) beneficiaries under the programs under title II and title 
XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). In this voluntary program, each 
beneficiary who receives a ticket has the option of using his or her 
ticket to obtain services from a provider known as an employment 
network (EN) or from a State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency. ENs 
may choose to whom they provide services. When the beneficiary and an 
EN or State VR agency agree to work together under the program, the EN 
or State VR agency, without charge to the beneficiary, will provide 
employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other 
support services to assist the beneficiary in obtaining or regaining 
and ultimately maintaining self-supporting permanent employment. If the 
beneficiary achieves certain work outcomes, we will pay the EN or State 
VR agency.
    The title II and title XVI programs serve a diverse population of 
individuals with disabilities. Our beneficiaries are people from 
various age groups with different impairments, levels of education, 
work experience, and capacities for working. While many cannot work at 
all on a sustained basis, others may be able to work part-time or full-
time with reasonable accommodations, ongoing supports, or both. This 
view is consistent with the assumptions underlying the Americans with 
Disabilities Act. As we develop our comprehensive work opportunity 
initiatives, we are also mindful that the unique needs of every 
beneficiary cannot be met by one program.
    These projects advance the President's New Freedom Initiative and 
provide work incentives and opportunities earlier in the disability 
determination process. The Ticket to Work program is an important part 
of a comprehensive work opportunity initiative dedicated to helping 
people with disabilities who want to work do so to their fullest 
capabilities.

What Do We Mean by ``Final Rules'' and ``Prior Rules''?

    Even though these rules will not go into effect until July 21, 
2008, for clarity we refer to the changes we are making here as the 
``final rules'' and to the rules that will be changed by these final 
rules as the ``prior rules.''

When Will We Start To Use These Final Rules?

    We will start to use these final rules on their effective date of 
July 21, 2008. We will continue to use our prior rules until the 
effective date of these final rules. When these final rules become 
effective, we will apply them to both new cases and pending cases. In 
response to public comments on the September 30, 2005 NPRM, we explain 
in Sec.  411.551 how we will apply the final rules on EN payment 
systems to cases still pending under our prior rules. In addition, we 
explain in Sec.  411.226 how we will apply the final timely progress 
rules to individuals whose tickets were assigned under the prior rules.

Issues Addressed in These Final Rules

    The Ticket legislation directs the Commissioner to periodically 
review EN payment systems to ensure that they provide adequate 
incentives for ENs to assist beneficiaries. Based in part on more than 
three years experience administering the program, we proposed a number 
of revisions to our prior rules in our September 30, 2005 NPRM and our 
August 13, 2007 NPRM that we believed would significantly enhance 
beneficiary choice and improve the likelihood that beneficiaries would 
receive the most effective support.

State Participation and Beneficiary Choice

    Our rules for the Ticket to Work program provide that a State VR 
agency may participate in the program in one of two ways. On a case-by-
case basis, with respect to beneficiaries who have

[[Page 29325]]

a ticket, the State VR agency may participate either as an EN or 
through the cost reimbursement payment system applicable under sections 
222(d) and 1615(d) and (e) of the Act. Under our prior rules, if the 
State VR agency elects to be paid under the cost reimbursement payment 
system, the beneficiary's ticket must be assigned to the State VR 
agency in order for that agency to be paid through that system. The 
prior rules preclude further payment on the ticket if a State VR agency 
has been paid under the cost reimbursement payment system.
    Before we published the September 30, 2005 NPRM, we received many 
comments that these policies under our prior rules do not allow 
beneficiaries to take advantage of the full potential of the Ticket to 
Work program. We agree with these comments and similar comments made in 
response to the September 30, 2005 NPRM. As a result, we are making 
changes in subparts B and F of our regulations to provide that a 
beneficiary's ticket will not be assigned to a State VR agency if that 
agency elects to be paid under the cost reimbursement payment system 
(the VR cost reimbursement option). We provide in Sec. Sec.  411.135 
and 411.140 of the final rules that, in this situation, the beneficiary 
may assign the ticket to a different provider of services after the 
State VR agency has closed his or her case.
    We are making related changes in subpart C of our regulations to 
provide that, when a beneficiary is receiving services from a State VR 
agency that elects the VR cost reimbursement option, and has a ticket 
which would otherwise be available for assignment, the beneficiary will 
be considered to be ``using a ticket'' as described in that subpart if 
certain other requirements are met. This change will afford these 
beneficiaries protection from the initiation of a continuing disability 
review, irrespective of ticket assignment, provided all of the related 
provisions regarding timely progress are met. We explain in Sec.  
411.170(b) of the final rules when the period of ``using a ticket'' 
will begin for a beneficiary who has a ticket that would otherwise be 
available for assignment and who is receiving VR services pursuant to 
an individualized plan for employment (IPE) where the State VR agency 
has elected the VR cost reimbursement option. We explain that the 
period of ``using a ticket'' will begin on the effective date of the 
IPE or, if later, the first day the ticket would otherwise have been 
assignable if the beneficiary had not been receiving services from the 
State VR agency under the VR cost reimbursement option. We explain in 
final Sec.  411.171 that, for a beneficiary for whom the State VR 
agency has elected the VR cost reimbursement option, whose ticket has 
not terminated and who continues to meet the timely progress 
requirements, the period of ``using a ticket'' will end with the close 
of the 90-day period following the date the State VR agency closes the 
beneficiary's VR case, unless the beneficiary assigns the ticket during 
this 90-day period.
    In a change from the NPRMs, we are incorporating two new terms, 
``VR cost reimbursement option'' and ``VR cost reimbursement status,'' 
in Subpart C of the final rules to better explain the rules on ``using 
a ticket'' that apply to a beneficiary with a ticket who receives VR 
services under an IPE from a State VR agency that has chosen the cost 
reimbursement payment system. We define these terms in final Sec.  
411.166, which contains a glossary of terms used in subpart C of our 
regulations. We explain that ``VR cost reimbursement option'' means an 
arrangement under which a beneficiary's ticket is not assigned to the 
State VR agency, but the beneficiary receives services under an IPE 
where the State VR agency has chosen to receive payment under the cost 
reimbursement payment system. We explain that the term ``VR cost 
reimbursement status'' means the status of the beneficiary's ticket 
under this arrangement. We also explain that this status begins when 
the period of using a ticket begins as described in final Sec.  
411.170(b) and this status ends when the State VR agency closes the 
beneficiary's case. We are defining these terms in the final rules to 
help simplify and clarify the provisions on using a ticket that relate 
to beneficiaries in these cases. Since we use the term ``VR cost 
reimbursement option'' in other subparts that we are amending in these 
final rules, we are also adding the definition of that term to Sec.  
411.115, which provides definitions of terms used in part 411.
    We are also making changes in subpart F (State Vocational 
Rehabilitation Agencies' Participation). We removed the provisions of 
the prior rules which indicate that payment may not be made under both 
the cost reimbursement payment system and an EN payment system based on 
the same ticket. We have clarified in Sec.  411.355(c) that a State VR 
agency can receive payment only under the cost reimbursement payment 
system when it serves a beneficiary who does not have a ticket that can 
be assigned pursuant to Sec.  411.140. In other changes, we removed 
prior Sec.  411.360 because it dealt with the phased implementation of 
the Ticket to Work program, which has been completed. We also are 
removing prior Sec.  411.370, rather than revising it, as we proposed 
in our September 30, 2005 NPRM, because it would duplicate information 
included in final Sec. Sec.  411.350 and 411.355. We have revised Sec.  
411.385(a)(1) to remove the reference to the beneficiary's decision to 
assign or reassign the ticket to the State VR agency. In a change from 
the September 30, 2005 NPRM, we are retaining in these final rules that 
part of prior Sec.  411.385(a)(1) which requires that the information 
submitted to the program manager (PM) include a statement that an IPE 
has been agreed to and signed. In final Sec.  411.390 and final Sec.  
411.510, we explain that for beneficiaries already receiving services 
from the State VR agency when they become eligible for a ticket, the 
State VR agency can receive payment only under the cost reimbursement 
payment system, unless both the beneficiary and the State VR agency 
agree to have the ticket assigned to the State VR agency.
    We also are making related changes to Sec.  411.585 that will allow 
for payment to an EN under an EN payment system and payment to a State 
VR agency under the VR cost reimbursement option with respect to the 
same beneficiary in certain circumstances. Section 411.585 of our prior 
rules provides that if we make payment to a State VR agency under the 
cost reimbursement payment system with respect to a ticket, that 
payment precludes payment under an EN payment system with respect to 
the same ticket. The prior rules also provide that if we make payment 
under an EN payment system, that payment precludes payment under the 
cost reimbursement payment system with respect to the same ticket. 
Final Sec.  411.585(b) states that if a State VR agency is paid by us 
under the VR cost reimbursement option, such payment does not preclude 
payment by us to an EN or to another State VR agency acting as an EN 
under its elected EN payment system, and that a subsequent State VR 
agency also has the choice of being paid under the VR cost 
reimbursement option. In response to comments, new Sec.  411.585(c) 
clarifies that if an EN or a State VR agency acting as an EN is paid by 
us under one of the EN payment systems, that does not preclude payment 
by us to a different State VR agency under the VR cost reimbursement 
option. It also clarifies that the subsequent State VR agency also has 
the choice of being paid under its elected EN payment system.
    We believe that these changes will greatly expand beneficiary 
choice of

[[Page 29326]]

ENs and enable beneficiaries to take advantage of a more effective 
combination of services from both a State VR agency and an EN. For 
example, the State VR agency could provide the initial, intensive 
rehabilitation services, and an EN could follow up by providing the 
ongoing support many individuals need to maintain their work efforts. 
We will provide procedures regarding these issues in the Vocational 
Rehabilitation Providers Handbook (chapter 12, also known as 
Transmittal 17). This transmittal includes background information and 
procedures for State VR agencies to follow regarding the Ticket to Work 
program.

Employment Network Payment Systems

    The rules for EN payment systems are set out in subpart H 
(Employment Network Payment Systems) (Sec. Sec.  411.500 through 
411.597). Section 411.597(a) of our prior rules states, ``We will 
periodically review the system of payments and their programmatic 
results to determine if they provide an adequate incentive for ENs to 
assist beneficiaries to enter the work force, while providing for 
appropriate economies.''
    We studied extensively the question of whether the prior Ticket to 
Work program regulations provided an adequate incentive for ENs to 
assist beneficiaries. As we discussed in the proposed rules (70 FR at 
57224), an evaluation of the Ticket to Work program by Mathematica 
Policy Research (MPR) in February 2004 found that despite aggressive 
marketing of the Ticket to Work program to over 50,000 organizations, 
only about 1,000 non-State providers had signed up as ENs and only a 
few hundred were actively participating in the Ticket to Work program. 
(http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/PDFs/TTWinitialrpt.pdf). 
Over time, fewer organizations have joined the Ticket to Work program 
as service providers. The overall number of service providers in the 
program remains low, with retention a major challenge. The financial 
viability of some ENs remains uncertain as ENs report losing money on 
Ticket to Work operations. These problems reduce the number of 
organizations willing and able to serve as ENs and accept ticket 
assignments.
    Accordingly, we made changes to subpart H in order to create a 
greater financial incentive for EN participation. We anticipate that 
these changes will increase the number of ENs actively accepting 
tickets. In response to public comments, we also added definitions of a 
``transition case'' and a ``reconciliation payment'' as paragraphs (g) 
and (h) of Sec.  411.500. Final Sec.  411.525 provides that the total 
potential payment under the outcome-milestone payment system has been 
increased from 85% under the prior rules to 90% of the total potential 
payment under the outcome payment system under these final rules. By 
increasing the total potential payment, we believe that we will 
increase the incentive for small or undercapitalized providers to 
participate as ENs in the program. In addition, Sec.  411.525 clarifies 
that milestone payments must occur before the beginning of the outcome 
period, and that once we begin making payments for a title XVI 
beneficiary we will continue using the title XVI payment rates even if 
the beneficiary later becomes eligible for disability insurance 
benefits under title II.
    As we also discussed in the proposed rules (70 FR 57225), the 
Adequacy of Incentives (AOI) Advisory Group recommended a payment 
approach which recognizes that the steps leading to maximizing self-
sufficiency are incremental and may be interrupted periodically. The 
link to the AOI report is: http://www.dri.uiuc.edu/research/p03-08h/
AOIFinal.pdf. Final Sec. Sec.  411.525 and 411.535 now provide a two-
phased milestone payment system and outcome payments that parallel the 
steps beneficiaries take toward self-sufficiency.
    Phase 1 is modeled on the nine-month trial work period (TWP) 
provided for title II beneficiaries. Four milestones at different 
points of employment retention will be paid when the beneficiary works 
for a period of time with gross earnings at or above the trial work 
earnings level. Phase 1 milestones are the only payments that will be 
the same for both title XVI and title II beneficiaries, and these 
payments will be based on the higher title II payment calculation base. 
This change addresses the concerns that the initial phase is the most 
expensive for the EN to provide services and that without equal 
payments title XVI beneficiaries would have difficulty accessing Phase 
1 services. The trial work earnings requirement ($670/month in 2008) 
represents a significant work and earnings milestone for beneficiaries, 
as well as an attainable payment point for ENs. In response to public 
comments that we not narrow our focus to prior services from the State 
VR agency, we provide in Sec.  411.535(a)(1)(ii) that work activity 
above the trial work earnings level in the 18 months prior to the first 
ticket assignment on each ticket may preclude us from paying some or 
all of the Phase 1 milestones. We also clarify in Sec.  
411.535(a)(1)(iii) the circumstances under which we will not pay Phase 
1 milestones if a beneficiary received services from a State VR agency 
that elected the VR cost reimbursement option.
    We also added a new rule, final Sec.  411.536, which provides that 
we will pay an EN, or a State VR agency acting as an EN, for milestones 
that were unpaid because the beneficiary's outcome payment period 
begins.
    Phase 2 requires a substantial achievement on the path toward full 
self-sufficiency. The employment outcome triggering a Phase 2 milestone 
payment is a month where the beneficiary's gross earnings equal or 
exceed the substantial gainful activity earnings level (in calendar 
year 2008, $940). During Phase 2, we will make a maximum of 11 monthly 
milestone payments with respect to a title II beneficiary and a maximum 
of 18 monthly milestone payments with respect to a title XVI 
beneficiary. We anticipate that some but not all beneficiaries will 
progress to Phase 2, increasing work hours and earnings to above the 
substantial gainful activity (SGA) level. As the AOI Advisory Group 
recommended, we are encouraging the use of work incentives during both 
Phase 1 and Phase 2 by making payments to ENs based on gross earnings 
before adjustments for work incentives. We have provided for a greater 
number of milestone payments with respect to title XVI beneficiaries as 
part of our overall effort to equalize the monetary value of the 
milestones payments that potentially can be made with respect to title 
II and title XVI beneficiaries. Under our prior rules, the total value 
of the four title XVI milestones is less than 60 percent of the total 
value of the four title II milestones. However, under these final 
rules, the total value of the title XVI milestones will be 98 percent 
of the total value of the title II milestones. We anticipate that this 
will provide an additional incentive for ENs to accept tickets from 
title XVI beneficiaries. Final Sec.  411.540 provides the revised 
payment amounts for milestone payments. For both title II and title XVI 
beneficiaries, the payment amount for each milestone payment in Phase 1 
will be 120 percent of the title II payment calculation base defined in 
Sec.  411.500(a)(1). The payment amount for each milestone payment in 
Phase 2 will be 36 percent of the respective title II or title XVI 
payment calculation base. Final Sec.  411.545 provides the revised 
payment amounts for outcome payments under the outcome-milestone 
payment system, which is 36 percent of the respective title II or title 
XVI payment calculation base. Final

[[Page 29327]]

Sec.  411.550 provides the revised payment rates for outcome payments 
under the outcome payment system, which is 67 percent of the respective 
title II or title XVI payment calculation base.
    The final phase is the outcome payment period, during which 
beneficiaries are not receiving Social Security disability benefits or 
Federal SSI cash benefits because of work or earnings. Consistent with 
the discussion above about milestones, we are leaving the title XVI 
outcome period at 60 outcome payment months in order to equalize the 
monetary value of the outcome payments and the total amount of all 
payments that potentially can be made to an EN with respect to title II 
and title XVI beneficiaries. Final Sec.  411.535(a)(3) provides that a 
reconciliation payment, as described above, will be made equal to the 
total amount of unpaid Phase 1 and Phase 2 milestones that had been 
available at first ticket assignment, if the beneficiary does not 
achieve all the Phase 1 and Phase 2 milestones prior to the beginning 
of the beneficiary's outcome payment period. As previously noted, in 
response to public comments on this provision, we added final Sec.  
411.536 to explain how this reconciliation payment will be made.
    Finally, both the AOI Advisory Group in its Final Report: 
Recommendations for Improving Implementation of the Ticket to Work and 
Self-Sufficiency Program (Regulatory and Administrative Changes) and 
the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel in its annual 
reports to the President and Congress expressed concerns (available at 
http://www.dri.uiuc.edu/research/p03-08h/default.htm and http://
www.ssa.gov/work/panel/panel_documents/reports.html) that prior 
funding levels were inadequate to support the consumer-driven market-
based employment service model that Congress envisioned in the Ticket 
legislation. The Ticket legislation established a maximum monthly 
outcome payment of 40% of the national average disability benefit 
payable under title II or title XVI, as appropriate, as the basis for 
EN payments under the Ticket to Work program. The Ticket legislation 
also requires us to periodically review this and other issues in order 
to determine whether, as relevant here, the percentage ``provides an 
adequate incentive for employment networks to assist beneficiaries to 
enter the workforce, while providing for appropriate economies.'' The 
40% rate has proved inadequate to attract sufficient ENs to the 
marketplace to allow for adequate access to services and consumer 
choice. Therefore, consistent with our authority in section 
1148(h)(5)(A) of the Act, final Sec.  411.525 increases the overall 
percentage from 40% to 67% in the outcome payment system.
    We believe that we will increase the financial incentives for small 
or undercapitalized providers to participate as ENs by offering a 
combination of: (1) Increasing the percent of the payment calculation 
base used to figure the payments; (2) reducing the differential between 
outcome and outcome-milestone payments; (3) equalizing funding for 
providing services to title II and title XVI beneficiaries; (4) 
increasing milestone payments; (5) making payments earlier in the 
return to work process; (6) recognizing that trial work level earnings 
constitute initial efforts at self-sufficiency for many beneficiaries; 
and (7) allowing beneficiaries to combine initial services provided by 
VR with ongoing support services from an EN. We also believe that the 
increased EN participation these changes will cause will improve 
beneficiary access to services and choice of quality providers. Final 
Sec.  411.566 provides that an EN may use outcome or milestone payments 
to make payments to the beneficiary.
    The revised payment rates are presented in charts I through III 
using the 2008 payment calculation base.

                                  Chart I.--New Outcome-Milestone Payment Table
                                      [2008 figures for illustration only]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Title II amount of      Title XVI amount of
             Payment type                Beneficiary earnings           payment                  payment
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Phase 1 (120% of Title II PCB)
    Milestone 1......................  $335/mo. $670/mo. x 3    $1,177.................  $1,177
                                        mo. work in a 6-month
                                        period.
    Milestone 2......................  .......................  $1,177.................  $1,177
    Milestone 3......................  $670/mo. x 6 mo. work    $1,177.................  $1,177
                                        in a 12-month period.
    Milestone 4......................  $670/mo. x 9 mo. work    $1,177.................  $1,177
                                        in an 18-month period.
                                                               -------------------------------------------------
        Total Phase 1 milestones.....  .......................  $4,708.................  $4,708
                                                               =================================================
Phase 2 (36% of PCB).................  Gross Earnings>SGA.                               .......................
Title II milestones 1-11.............  .......................  $353 x 11 = $3,883       .......................
Title XVI milestones 1-18............  .......................  .......................  $203 x 18 = $3,654
                                                               -------------------------------------------------
    Total Phase 1 + 2................  .......................  $8,591.................  $8,362
                                                               =================================================
Outcome payments (36% of PCB)
    Title II = 1-36..................  monthly cash benefit     $353 x 36 = $12,708      .......................
                                        not payable due to SGA.
    Title XVI = 1-60.................  Sufficient earnings for  .......................  203 x 60 = $12,180
                                        federal cash benefits
                                        =``0''.
                                                               -------------------------------------------------
        Total milestone and outcome    .......................  $21,299................  $20,542
         payments.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Definitions and amounts: Payment Calculation Base (PCB)--The 
average title II disability insurance benefit payable under section 223 
of the Social Security Act for all beneficiaries for months during the 
preceding calendar

[[Page 29328]]

year; and the average payment of supplemental security income benefits 
based on disability payable under title XVI (excluding State 
supplementation) for months during the preceding calendar year to all 
beneficiaries who have attained 18 years of age but have not attained 
65 years of age. (2008 title II = $981.17, title XVI = $563.35).
    Gross earnings requirements for Phase 1 are based on Trial Work 
level amounts.
    For Phase 1 milestones only, the payments are calculated for both 
title XVI and title II beneficiaries using the higher title II payment 
calculation base. All other payments are based on a percentage of the 
Payment Calculation Base (PCB) for the respective program (title XVI or 
title II). See Sec.  411.535 for a discussion of the circumstances 
under which we will pay milestones.
    Phase 1 milestones = 120% of PCB.
    Phase 2 milestones = 36% of PCB.
    Outcome payments (under the outcome-milestone payment system) = 36% 
of PCB.
    Earnings used to meet the first, second, or third Phase 1 milestone 
may be counted again when determining if a later milestone is met, 
provided the earlier earnings fall within the relevant time period for 
meeting the later Phase 1 milestone (see 411.525(a)(2) for the relevant 
time period for each milestone).

                      Chart II.--New Outcome Payment System Table--Title II and Concurrent
                                      [2008 figures for illustration only]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                Title II amount
                 Payment type                        Beneficiary earnings          of monthly     Title II total
                                                                                    payment          payments
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Outcome payments 1-36 (67% of PCB)...........  Monthly cash benefit not                $657.00          $23,652
                                                payable due to SGA.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                          Chart III.--New Outcome Payment System Table--Title XVI Only
                                      [2008 figures for illustration only]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Title XVI
                 Payment type                        Beneficiary earnings          amount of     Title XVI total
                                                                                monthly payment      payments
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Outcome payments 1-60 (67% of PCB)...........  Earnings sufficient to ``0''            $377.00          $22,620
                                                out Federal SSI cash benefits.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Note: Outcome payment (outcome payment system) = 67% of PCB. 
Individual payments are rounded to the nearest dollar amount.
    2008 non-blind SGA level = $940.
    2008 Blind SGA = $1570.
    2008 TWP service amount = $670.

Ticket Eligibility for Beneficiaries Whose Conditions May Medically 
Improve

    The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel, in its July 
26, 2001 report to the Commissioner, recommended that ``All SSI and 
SSDI adult disability beneficiaries, including those with a Medical 
Improvement Expected (MIE) designation, should be eligible to 
participate in the Ticket program.'' (Available at http://www.ssa.gov/
work/panel/panel_documents/reports.html). (Note: The copy of the 
report at this link is not the official report, but a ``duplicate 
report'' that is ``similar'' to the original but which may contain 
``small differences.'') We agree and are making changes to the ticket 
eligibility rules set out in Sec.  411.125 under subpart B to allow 
beneficiaries with an MIE designation to be eligible for a ticket 
without first requiring a continuing disability review to be conducted.

``Using a Ticket'' and Related Timely Progress Rules

    Subpart C (Suspension of Continuing Disability Reviews for 
Beneficiaries Who Are Using a Ticket) contains our rules on when a 
beneficiary will be considered to be ``using a ticket'' under the 
Ticket to Work program for the purpose of suspending the initiation of 
a medical continuing disability review (CDR) as provided under section 
1148(i) of the Act. The rules in subpart C also describe the timely 
progress requirements which a beneficiary must meet to continue to be 
considered ``using a ticket'' under the program.
    In final Sec.  411.166, we explain that ``using a ticket'' means 
that a beneficiary has assigned a ticket to an EN or a State VR agency 
acting as an EN, or has a ticket in VR cost reimbursement status, and 
the beneficiary is making timely progress toward self-supporting 
employment. (As explained above, under these final rules, a 
beneficiary's ticket is in VR cost reimbursement status when the 
beneficiary has a ticket that would otherwise be available for 
assignment and is receiving VR services under an IPE from a State VR 
agency which has elected the VR cost reimbursement option.) Section 
411.165 explains that we will not begin a CDR during the period in 
which a beneficiary is ``using a ticket.''
    As in the prior rules, it is important that we continue to balance 
our desire to define ``using a ticket'' in a way that minimizes the 
disincentive for beneficiary participation that arises from the fear of 
having benefits terminated upon return to work because of a medical 
CDR, and our need to maintain the integrity of the disability programs 
by ensuring that beneficiaries who have medically improved do not 
continue to receive disability benefits for an undue length of time. We 
believe these final rules as described below maintain that balance.
    In final Sec.  411.180, we revised the timely progress guidelines 
contained in our prior rules. As we proposed in the August 13, 2007 
NPRM, we added educational or technical training requirements to 
supplement the work requirements under the timely progress guidelines. 
We revised the work requirements under the guidelines and the 
documentation and other requirements for progress reviews to simplify 
the process for determining whether a beneficiary is making timely 
progress toward self-supporting employment. In addition, we eliminated 
the ``initial 24-month period'' after ticket assignment during which a 
beneficiary is considered to be making timely progress if actively 
participating in his or her employment plan. We

[[Page 29329]]

replaced this 24-month period with two successive 12-month progress 
certification periods during each of which the beneficiary must 
complete certain work requirements and/or educational or technical 
training requirements in order to be considered to be making timely 
progress until the next scheduled progress review.
    We made changes from the guidelines proposed in the August 13, 2007 
NPRM and included several important enhancements in final Sec.  
411.180. We extended the period for a beneficiary to complete a 
vocational or technical training program. In addition to the 4-year 
degree program, we added a 2-year degree or certification program to 
the guidelines. We also included obtaining a high school diploma or a 
General Education Development (GED) certificate in the first 12-month 
progress certification period as a part of the timely progress 
guidelines. In addition, we provide in the final rules that a 
beneficiary will be considered to have met the requirements for an 
applicable progress certification period if the beneficiary completes a 
certain percentage of the work requirement and a certain percentage of 
the post-secondary education requirement or vocational or technical 
training requirement for that progress certification period and the sum 
of the two percentages equals 100 or more. We also added a variance 
tolerance to provide a margin of flexibility in determining whether a 
beneficiary has met certain timely progress requirements. Under the 
variance tolerance, we will consider a beneficiary to have met the 
requirement for completing a specified amount of post-secondary credit 
hours in an educational degree or certification program or course 
requirements in a vocational or technical training program under Sec.  
411.180 in the applicable progress certification period if the 
beneficiary's completion of credit hours or course requirements in that 
period is within 10 percent of the specified goal.
    As provided in final Sec.  411.180, the timely progress guidelines 
for each 12-month progress certification period now reflect the 
following concrete, incrementally obtainable goals.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   12-Month review                            High school diploma         Degree or         Technical, trade, or
       period            Work requirement            or GED         certification program    vocational program
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1st*................  3 out of 12 months     Obtained high school   Completed 60 percent   Completed 60 percent
                       with trial work        diploma or GED         of full time course    of full time course
                       period level           certificate.           load for 1 year.       load for 1 year.
                       earnings.
2nd.................  6 out of 12 months                            Completed 75 percent   Completed 75 percent
                       with trial work                               of full time course    of full time course
                       period level                                  load for 1 year.       load for 1 year.
                       earnings.
3rd.................   9 out of 12 months                           Completed a 2-year     Completed the
                       with substantial                              program or, for a 4-   program.
                       gainful activity                              year program,
                       level earnings.                               completed an
                                                                     additional academic
                                                                     year of full time
                                                                     study.
4th.................  9 out of 12 months                            Completed an
                       with substantial                              additional academic
                       gainful activity                              year of full time
                       level earnings.                               study.
5th.................  6 out of 12 months at                         Completed an
                       level precluding                              additional academic
                       Social Security and                           year of full time
                       Federal SSI cash                              study or completed 4-
                       benefits.                                     year degree program.
6th.................  Work criteria are                             Completed 4-year
                       same for 5th and                              degree program.
                       subsequent 12-month
                       periods.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In final Sec.  411.166(b), we modified the definition of ``timely 
progress toward self-supporting employment'' to reflect that a high 
school diploma or GED certificate obtained in the first 12-month 
progress certification period counts as timely progress. In addition, 
we added a definition of ``variance tolerance'' in Sec.  411.166(h).
    In final Sec.  411.171, we made several changes from the provisions 
of this section that were proposed in the September 30, 2005 NPRM. In 
final Sec.  411.171(b), we deleted the references to prior Sec. Sec.  
411.190 and 411.195 since we are removing these sections of the 
regulations in these final rules. In final Sec.  411.171(c), we changed 
the duration of the extension period from three months to 90 days to 
conform to the change in the duration of the extension period provided 
in final Sec. Sec.  411.166 and 411.220, discussed below. This change 
to the duration of the extension period coincides with the 90-day 
period described in final Sec.  411.150(b)(3) and incorporates the 
provision that was proposed in paragraph (d) of this section in the 
September 2005 NPRM, making the latter provision unnecessary. In 
paragraph (d) of final Sec.  411.171, we explain when the period of 
using a ticket may end for a beneficiary receiving services from a 
State VR agency that has elected the VR cost reimbursement option. 
Based on a public comment, as well as the foregoing change in final 
paragraph (d), proposed paragraphs (e) and (f) of this section in the 
September 30, 2005 NPRM have been removed in these final rules. In a 
related change, cross-references to final Sec.  411.155(a)(4) and 
(c)(8), on when the ticket terminates if an individual's outcome 
payment period ends, have been added in final Sec.  411.171(a).
    As we proposed in the August 13, 2007 NPRM, in final Sec.  411.166 
and paragraphs (a) and (d)(2) of final Sec.  411.220, we changed the 
duration of the extension period from three months to 90 days.
    We removed prior Sec. Sec.  411.185, 411.190, 411.191, and 411.195. 
The changes we are making to subpart C in these final rules make these 
sections of the prior rules obsolete. In the final rules, we modified 
the section heading of Sec.  411.192 and paragraph (a) of that section 
to provide that a beneficiary may place his or her ticket in inactive 
status if he or she is temporarily or otherwise unable to make timely 
progress toward self-supporting employment during a progress 
certification period.
    In final Sec.  411.225, we revised the prior rule to explain that 
any month during which a beneficiary's ticket is not assigned and is 
not in VR cost reimbursement status will not count

[[Page 29330]]

towards the time limitations for the timely progress guidelines. Final 
Sec.  411.180(b) includes a similar provision. This change is necessary 
to take account of the situation provided for in these final rules, 
where a beneficiary's ticket is not assigned, but the beneficiary has a 
ticket that would otherwise be available for assignment and is 
receiving services under an IPE from a State VR agency which has 
elected the VR cost reimbursement option. As explained above, in this 
situation, the beneficiary's ticket is considered to be in VR cost 
reimbursement status.
    In final Sec.  411.226, we explain how we will apply the revised 
timely progress provisions to a beneficiary who assigned his or her 
ticket prior to the effective date of these final rules. We describe 
how we will determine which progress certification period a beneficiary 
is in as of the date these final rules become effective. We explain 
that we will not conduct a progress review at the end of that period, 
but will conduct a progress review at the end of the beneficiary's next 
12-month progress certification period. In final Sec.  411.226(b), we 
explain that we will notify the beneficiary regarding the specific 
timely progress requirements that will apply to him or her and when 
they will begin to apply. In Sec.  411.226(d), we explain that tickets 
assigned under the prior rules to State VR agencies that have chosen to 
be paid for their services under the cost reimbursement payment system 
will no longer be considered assigned beginning on the effective date 
of these final rules. Instead, the ticket of a beneficiary in this 
situation will be considered to be in VR cost reimbursement status. We 
explain that a beneficiary in this situation may continue to be 
considered ``using a ticket'' under the final rules in subpart C for 
purposes of protection against the initiation of a continuing 
disability review. We explain that the beneficiary may assign his or 
her ticket after the State VR agency has closed his or her case.

Other Changes We Are Making

    In subpart A, we are removing the prior Sec.  411.110, which 
explains how we will implement the Ticket program, because we already 
have implemented the program on a nationwide basis.
    In Sec.  411.120, we clarify what information will be included on 
the Ticket To Work document.
    We are making several changes in subpart B (Tickets Under the 
Ticket to Work Program). We revised Sec.  411.130 to clarify that we 
will mail a ticket to the beneficiary when the beneficiary is eligible. 
In final Sec.  411.140, we clarify in paragraph (a) that an individual 
with a ticket who has been receiving services under an IPE from a State 
VR agency which elected the VR cost reimbursement option may assign his 
or her ticket during the 90-day period after the State VR agency closes 
his or her case without having to meet the requirements of Sec.  
411.125(a)(2). The individual may assign his or her ticket after this 
90-day period, but only if he or she meets the requirements of both 
paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) of Sec.  411.125. We are making this 
change in final Sec.  411.140(a) to make this provision consistent with 
the similar rule for reassigning a ticket contained in final Sec.  
411.150(b)(3), discussed below.
    We revised the section heading of Sec.  411.145 to read ``When can 
my ticket be taken out of assignment?'', and revised the provisions of 
that section to indicate that, consistent with other sections of these 
final rules, a State VR agency will have a ticket assigned to it only 
if it elects to act as an EN. In a change from the September 30, 2005 
NPRM, we added a provision to final Sec.  411.145(a) to provide that if 
a beneficiary takes the ticket out of assignment, he or she will be 
sent a notice regarding the change. We changed Sec.  411.150(a) to 
clarify that in all cases the ticket must be unassigned before it can 
be reassigned. We also revised Sec.  411.150(b)(3) concerning the 
conditions under which a beneficiary may reassign a ticket even if the 
beneficiary does not meet certain requirements of Sec.  411.125(a).
    We also are making several changes in Sec.  411.155. We are 
changing Sec.  411.155(a)(2) to state that, if a beneficiary is 
entitled to widow's or widower's insurance benefits based on 
disability, the ticket terminates in the month in which the beneficiary 
attains full retirement age. We added Sec. Sec.  411.155(a)(4) and 
(c)(8) to indicate that the ticket terminates in the month after the 
month in which the beneficiary's outcome payment period ends.
    We are making changes to three sections in subpart E (Employment 
Networks). In Sec.  411.310, we added new paragraph (d) to provide that 
one-stop delivery systems established under subtitle B of title I of 
the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (29 U.S.C. 2811 et seq.) may 
participate in the Ticket to Work program as ENs without responding to 
our request for proposal (RFP). In response to public comments, we 
added new paragraph (e) to final Sec.  411.310 to provide that 
organizations administering Vocational Rehabilitation Services Projects 
for American Indians with Disabilities authorized under section 121 of 
part C of title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 
U.S.C. 441), also may participate as ENs without having to respond to 
our RFP. We explain that one-stop delivery systems and organizations 
administering Vocational Rehabilitation Services Projects for American 
Indians with Disabilities must enter into an agreement with us to serve 
as an EN under the Ticket to Work program and must maintain compliance 
with the rules that apply to ENs. We made corresponding changes in 
final Sec.  411.315. We added new paragraphs (e) and (f) to final Sec.  
411.315 to provide that one-stop delivery systems and organizations 
administering Vocational Rehabilitation Services Projects for American 
Indians with Disabilities must still enter into an agreement with the 
Commissioner to be an EN and must maintain compliance with general and 
specific selection criteria of this section and Sec.  411.305 to remain 
an EN.
    In paragraph (a) of final Sec.  411.325, we indicate that an EN 
must report to the PM in writing each time it accepts a ticket for 
assignment or no longer wants a ticket assigned to it.
    In subpart F (State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies' 
Participation), Sec.  411.365(a) is revised to remove the reference to 
a letter we send to State VR agencies regarding implementation of the 
Ticket to Work program.
    In subpart H (Employment Network Payment Systems), we are removing 
the prior Sec.  411.530, which required that each outcome payment made 
to an EN under the outcome-milestone payment system be reduced by an 
amount equal to 1/60th of a milestone payment made to an EN with 
respect to the same individual. These final rules remove this 
requirement as one means of increasing the potential payment available 
to an EN and, as required by Ticket legislation, ensuring that these EN 
payment systems continue to provide adequate incentives for ENs to 
assist beneficiaries.
    In addition, we made several additional changes in subpart H 
(Employment Network Payment Systems). We added a new Sec.  411.552 to 
clarify that we will continue to make EN payments based on the title 
XVI payment structure once we authorize an outcome or milestone payment 
for a title XVI only beneficiary. If a title XVI beneficiary becomes 
entitled to title II disability benefits before we authorize an outcome 
or milestone payment we will make payments to the EN as if the 
individual were a title II beneficiary. By authorizing a payment we 
mean that we have performed the necessary actions to trigger a payment, 
whether or not the

[[Page 29331]]

Treasury Department has issued the payment or the EN has received the 
payment.
    In final Sec.  411.555, we eliminated the requirement in (b)(2) to 
adjust or recover an incorrect EN payment when the reason for the 
incorrect payment is because of a retroactive determination or decision 
SSA makes about an individual's right to benefits for the period of the 
payment. We made changes to Sec.  411.555 to indicate that references 
to ENs refer to State VR agencies acting as EN as well. We also changed 
this section to reflect the difference in the number of outcome months 
for title XVI and title II beneficiaries.
    Final Sec.  411.575 explains that as primary evidence of the 
beneficiary's work and earnings we will require an original pay stub or 
an oral or written statement of monthly earnings from the employer or 
the employer's designated payroll preparer. It also explains that in 
lieu of primary evidence, we will accept two sources of secondary 
evidence, such as State unemployment insurance records and a signed 
beneficiary statement or federal or state tax returns. We also made two 
clarifications. We clarify in Sec.  411.575(a)(2) that the request for 
each milestone payment must include evidence that the milestone was 
attained after ticket assignment and in Sec.  411.575(b)(2) that as 
part of the payment request, we may require that the EN provide a 
summary of the services provided as described in the IWP/IPE.
    New final Sec.  411.581 explains the circumstances under which an 
EN can receive milestone and outcome payments for months after a 
beneficiary takes his or her ticket out of assignment.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    We issued two NPRMs proposing changes to our prior rules for the 
Ticket to Work program. We published an NPRM in the Federal Register on 
September 30, 2005 (70 FR 57222) and a second NPRM on August 13, 2007 
(72 FR 45191). We provided the public 90 days in which to submit 
comments on the first NPRM and 60 days in which to submit comments on 
the second NPRM. The comment period for the first NPRM closed on 
December 29, 2005, and the comment period for the second NPRM closed on 
October 12, 2007.
    We also held a series of town meetings in connection with the first 
NPRM to obtain additional input on the changes proposed in that NPRM. 
These meetings were open to the public and were announced in the 
Federal Register on October 19, 2005 (70 FR 60748) and November 1, 2005 
(70 FR 65871). They were conducted in Irvine, California on November 4, 
2005; in Miami, Florida on November 16, 2005; in Hartford, Connecticut 
on December 6, 2005; and in Des Moines, Iowa on December 14, 2005.
    We received a combined total of 128 public comments on the 
September 30, 2005 NPRM and the August 13, 2007 NPRM. The public 
comments we received on the September 2005 NPRM are posted on our 
Internet site at: https://s044a90.ssa.gov/apps10/erm/rules.nsf/
5da82b031a6677dc85256b41006b7f8d/
9fe46866babbb19b8525708c006d230a!OpenDocument.
    The public comments we received on the August 2007 NPRM are posted 
on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov.
    As we explain below, in these final regulations, we are making some 
changes from the proposed rules in response to public comments received 
on the NPRMs. We discuss the significant comments on the NPRMs and 
respond to these comments below under ``Public Comments.'' Although we 
condensed, summarized, or paraphrased the comments, we believe that we 
have expressed the views accurately and have responded to all of the 
significant issues raised by the commenters that are within the scope 
of the rulemaking.
    In addition, some of the comments were about subjects that were 
outside the scope of the rulemaking. Except as noted below, we have not 
summarized and responded to these comments.

Public Comments

General

    Many commenters endorsed the revision to Sec.  411.125 to extend 
ticket eligibility to beneficiaries with an MIE designation. A number 
of commenters supported our proposal to provide a phased payment system 
that parallels the steps beneficiaries take toward self-sufficiency, 
which will expand an EN's ability to provide employment services to 
beneficiaries who have an initial goal to work part-time. Commenters 
also supported our other proposals to make other changes to the EN 
payment systems in order to increase EN participation, including 
increasing outcome payments under the outcome payment system from 40% 
of the payment calculation base to 67%, and increasing the total 
payment for ENs electing the outcome-milestone payment system to 90% of 
potential payments under the outcome payment system. Many commenters 
also supported our proposal to encourage partnerships between State VR 
agencies and ENs to provide long-term services to a beneficiary by 
permitting the beneficiary to assign a ticket to an EN after receiving 
VR services.

Other Models

    Comment: A number of commenters suggested a model in which an EN 
composed of friends and family members might be formed to assist a 
beneficiary by making payments to service providers and coordinating 
service provisions. Other commenters recommended that we consider the 
feasibility of permitting the beneficiary to be his or her own EN 
without seeking third party assistance.
    Response: We have not adopted these comments. Section 1148(f)(1) of 
the Act states that ENs serving under the Ticket to Work program shall 
consist of an agency or instrumentality of a State (or a political 
subdivision thereof) or a private entity, that assumes responsibility 
for the coordination and delivery of services under the program to 
individuals assigning tickets to the EN.

Retroactivity of These Revised Rules

    Comment: A number of commenters recommended that these revised 
rules be effective retroactively, e.g., made effective for payments to 
ENs either from the date of their acceptance as an EN or from the 
beginning of calendar year 2005.
    Response: An agency may not make its rules retroactive without 
appropriate legislative authority. The Act does not authorize us to 
make these rules retroactive.

Transitioning to These Revised Rules

Transition Rules for EN Payment Cases

    Comment: Many commenters asked how we will make the transition to 
these new rules, i.e., how these new rules will apply to cases still 
pending on the effective date of the new rules. For example, one 
commenter noted that, if the new rules do not apply across the board to 
existing cases, ENs will delay ticket assignments or job placements, or 
otherwise jeopardize the benefits from this program for beneficiaries. 
Commenters asked specifically whether ENs will be given the opportunity 
to change their payment system election, in view of these revised 
rules, and how we would transition existing cases to the new EN payment 
systems.
    Response: Final Sec.  411.515 allows an EN to change its elected 
payment system once in each calendar year. We also added final Sec.  
411.551 to explain how we will move payment cases from

[[Page 29332]]

the prior EN payment system's schedule of payments and rates to the EN 
payment system's schedule of payments and rates in these final rules. 
We will process any EN payment requests received for milestones or 
outcomes that had been attained under our prior rules before we begin 
processing payments attained beginning with the effective date of the 
new rules. We will only accept payment requests for milestones or 
outcomes attained before the effective date of the new rules until 
March 31, 2009 or until the first payment is initiated under the new 
rules. Section 411.551 explains that milestones under our prior rules 
will be equated with Phase 1 milestones. For example, if a beneficiary 
has attained milestone 1 under our prior rules, then the next milestone 
to be achieved would be Phase 1 milestone 2 under the new rules (work 
in three months within a six-month period with gross earnings in each 
of the three months equal to a trial work period service month, i.e., 
$670 in 2008).
    If the beneficiary has attained all of the milestones under the 
prior rules, the next milestone to be achieved would be the first Phase 
2 milestone (a calendar month in which the beneficiary has worked and 
has gross earnings from employment or net earnings from self-employment 
that are more than the SGA earnings level).
    The maximum number of outcome payments available to an EN for a 
transition case will be computed as follows.
    When the EN requests a payment for a milestone or outcome attained 
in July 2008 or later, we will first compute the amount already paid or 
that can be paid on any particular ticket for milestones or outcomes 
attained before July 2008. Then, we will subtract this amount from the 
total value of the ticket under the new rules for 2008. The total value 
of the ticket is the sum of the payment amount of all payments 
available under the EN's chosen payment system for 2008. See the 
Outcome Milestone Payment System Table in Sec.  411.545(c) and the 
Outcome Payment System Tables in Sec.  411.550 for the value of the 
ticket in the year 2008 under each payment system for title II 
beneficiaries or title XVI beneficiaries or beneficiaries concurrently 
entitled under title II and title XVI. We then will divide this amount 
by the applicable outcome payment amount (whether title II or title 
XVI) payable for 2008 and round the result in accordance with customary 
rounding principles. The resulting number represents the number of 
outcome payments available on this ticket. In no case can this number 
exceed 60.

Timely Progress Transition Rules

    Comment: Some commenters expressed concern that beneficiaries would 
receive a progress review using the new timely progress guidelines 
without having had advance notice of these guidelines and asked whether 
we would transition individuals with tickets assigned prior to the 
effective date of the final regulations to the new timely progress 
guidelines.
    Response: In response to these comments, we made changes to Sec.  
411.226 in these final rules. We explain in the final rules that we 
will not conduct a progress review at the conclusion of the 
beneficiary's applicable 12-month progress certification period 
determined under Sec.  411.226(a)(1) of these final rules. We explain 
that we will conduct a progress review using the provisions of these 
final rules at the conclusion of the beneficiary's next 12-month 
progress certification period. We also added a provision that we will 
send the beneficiary a notice explaining the specific timely progress 
requirements that will apply to the beneficiary and when they will 
begin to apply.

Subpart B--Tickets Under the Ticket to Work Program

General

    Comment: One commenter recommended an ``overlap'' procedure under 
which ``ticket-in-use'' and ``ticket-assigned'' statuses could overlap. 
Under this proposal, once the VR client completed his or her 
individualized plan for employment (IPE), the State VR agency would 
advise the beneficiary that the ticket would be available for 
assignment to an EN for job development and placement, and the 
``overlap'' period would begin with the State VR agency's approval, 
once the EN has advised the PM that the ticket is assigned. Once the EN 
has placed the beneficiary in a job, the 90 days required for case 
closure by the State VR agency would begin running. As the beneficiary 
works above SGA, the EN would subsequently become eligible for Phase 2 
milestone payments, and the State VR agency would become eligible for 
cost reimbursement.
    One commenter noted that often State VR agencies contract with a 
community-based organization to provide services at the outset of its 
relationship with a beneficiary, and recommended that the regulations 
recognize this by providing for a joint State VR agency/EN assignment. 
Under this proposal, with the individual's permission, the State VR 
agency and the community-based organization would be allowed to jointly 
submit an IPE that lays out the initial cost reimbursable services as 
well as the follow up services reimbursable to the EN by Phase 2 and 
outcome payments. This proposal would encourage the State VR agency and 
community-based organization to collaborate together in an efficient 
manner to plan out several years of service and support. In addition, 
this proposal would ensure that the VR client's supportive services can 
continue uninterrupted and in a consistent manner with the same service 
provider, if this is what the beneficiary chooses.
    This commenter acknowledged that there may be some concern that 
such a process provides the community-based organizations that contract 
with State VR agencies an unfair advantage over other ENs in gaining 
access to beneficiaries with tickets who want to assign their tickets 
after working with a State VR agency who had chosen the cost 
reimbursement option. However, if the process is set up similar to the 
``overlap'' system described above, all ENs could compete for a joint 
ticket assignment with the State VR agency. Those ENs who do not 
currently contract with a State VR agency could establish a working 
relationship with the State VR agency to create these joint plans for 
services, and this process may encourage new collaborations between the 
State VR agencies and the ENs. The individual would still be given the 
option to change service providers after the State VR agency closes the 
case. With this option, the individual's ability to choose service 
providers is protected, and those beneficiaries who choose to allow 
this joint submission process at the beginning will still have the same 
rights as those who did not choose this route.
    Response: We agree that coordination of services between a State VR 
agency providing initial services and an EN providing ongoing support 
services would be beneficial. We do not believe that Congress intended 
the Ticket to Work program to make duplicate payments for services 
provided under the Rehabilitation Act. Therefore, when a beneficiary 
with a ticket receives VR services from a State VR agency which has 
elected the VR cost reimbursement option, these rules provide that the 
VR case must be closed by the State VR agency before the beneficiary 
may assign a ticket to an EN. We are, however, encouraging joint 
planning between the State VR agency and the EN selected by the 
consumer to provide ongoing support services as early as

[[Page 29333]]

possible. In this way, when the VR case is closed, the transition to 
ongoing supports under the Ticket to Work program will be seamless for 
the beneficiary.

Section 411.140 When may I assign my ticket and how?

    Comment: A number of commenters asked how we would know that a 
person is a client of a State VR agency.
    Response: We will use the procedures under Sec.  411.385 for the 
State VR agency to notify the PM that an IPE has been signed so that we 
can record that the beneficiary's ticket is in use so that we can 
ensure that we will not initiate a continuing disability review.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the proposed rules be 
amended to require a State VR agency that has chosen the cost 
reimbursement payment system to notify a beneficiary upon case closure 
of his or her right to assign the ticket to an EN for follow-up 
services. Failure to provide this notice should constitute grounds for 
denying payment under the cost reimbursement payment system. The 
commenter indicated that the rules should also require the State VR 
agency to notify us of the case closure. We should also provide the 
beneficiary with a notice that his or her ticket is available for 
assignment, so that the beneficiary will be aware of and take advantage 
of this new process.
    Response: We are not addressing the rules for the State VR 
Reimbursement program in this regulation. However, we are working out a 
process through which the State VR agency can efficiently inform the PM 
when it closes a case for beneficiaries participating in the program. 
We believe there are sufficient incentives built into the new payment 
system to encourage State VR agencies to facilitate the connection to 
an EN for ongoing support services. We also will publicize the 
provisions of these new rules so that beneficiaries are aware of their 
rights under these final rules.
    Comment: A number of commenters suggested that it should be 
feasible to allow for simultaneous EN and State VR services in 
situations where the EN is not receiving any payments for services 
being provided by a State VR agency and the services provided by the 
State VR agency are not duplicating any services being provided by the 
EN.
    Response: We do not agree. We do not believe that Congress intended 
to allow a beneficiary to be served simultaneously by a State VR agency 
and an EN under the Ticket to Work program. We believe that these final 
rules will provide incentives for beneficiaries to work with the State 
VR agency when they are developing the IPE to consider the expanded 
opportunities under the Ticket to Work program for receiving job 
retention and other support services from an EN after the close of VR 
services.
    Comment: Another commenter noted that limiting the ability of State 
VR agencies to take a ticket as an EN after it has served a beneficiary 
and received cost reimbursement would seem to be an appropriate 
approach in many instances. However, there are situations where this 
may not be true. If there are no available ENs in an area and the State 
VR agency is willing to provide the long term follow up, then 
consideration should be given to allowing the State VR agency to 
function as an EN. There may also be situations where the State VR 
agency has unique expertise with certain populations that cannot be met 
by other ENs. In these circumstances, the commenter recommended that 
the VR agency should be permitted to function as an EN.
    Response: We understand the concern expressed by this commenter and 
we will carefully monitor the availability of ENs in all regions of the 
country to ensure that we are not unduly restricting beneficiary 
choice. While we are confident that the new payment system should 
facilitate many additional ENs entering the program, we will make 
necessary changes to our rules if our evaluation shows that the Ticket 
to Work program is not serving our beneficiaries to the fullest extent 
possible.
    Comment: A number of commenters noted that proposed Sec.  
411.140(a) stated that ``you may also assign your ticket during the 90-
day period your ticket is considered in use after State VR services 
end'' and asked how we define ``end'' of VR services--after provision 
of direct cost services or after case closure?
    Response: For purposes of these rules, we consider VR services to 
end when the VR case is closed by the State VR agency. We made changes 
in final Sec. Sec.  411.140(a) and 411.171(d) to clarify that the 90-
day period discussed in these sections begins after the date the 
beneficiary's case is closed by the State VR agency.
    As we explain earlier in this preamble, we are also revising the 
provision in proposed Sec.  411.140(a), referenced above, to indicate 
that an individual may assign his or her ticket during the 90-day 
period after his or her VR case is closed by a State VR agency that 
elected the cost reimbursement option, without having to meet the 
requirements of Sec.  411.125(a)(2). We are making this change in the 
provision in these final rules to conform to the similar provision 
contained in final Sec.  411.150(b)(3). Section 411.150(b)(3) provides 
that an individual whose ticket is no longer assigned to an EN or State 
VR agency acting as an EN, may reassign the ticket within 90 days of 
the effective date the ticket was no longer assigned, without meeting 
the requirements of Sec.  411.125(a)(2).

Subpart C--Suspension of Continuing Disability Reviews for 
Beneficiaries Who Are Using a Ticket

General

    We received many public comments regarding the proposed changes to 
the timely progress provisions described in the NPRM that was published 
in the Federal Register on August 13, 2007. Most of these comments 
concerned the educational requirements or the work requirements for 
making timely progress toward self-supporting employment. We also 
received comments on the changes to subpart C that were proposed in the 
September 30, 2005 NPRM.

Section 411.180 What is timely progress toward self-supporting 
employment?

    Comment: The majority of commenters expressed support for the 
proposal to include educational or vocational or technical training 
requirements as part of the timely progress guidelines. However, based 
on the view that obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent, 
such as a general education development (GED) certificate, increases an 
individual's ability to obtain and maintain self-supporting employment, 
some commenters suggested that we add language that incorporates a GED 
as part of the timely progress guidelines.
    Response: We agree with the commenters' suggestion and have 
incorporated it in these final rules. We have expanded the timely 
progress requirements in Sec.  411.180(c)(1) of the final rules to 
provide that an individual who obtains a high school diploma or a GED 
certificate during the first 12-month progress certification period 
will be considered to be making timely progress toward self-supporting 
employment for the purpose of the progress review conducted at the end 
of this 12-month period.
    Comment: The majority of commenters suggested that we lower the 
educational and vocational or technical training requirements for 
making timely progress toward self-supporting employment. Some 
commenters asked that we allow flexibility to combine the achievement 
of work goals and

[[Page 29334]]

educational or vocational or technical training goals under the timely 
progress guidelines. Several commenters also asked that we provide 
beneficiaries with more time to complete educational or vocational or 
technical training requirements because of their disability and other 
factors that affect their ability to sustain heavy course loads.
    Response: In response to these comments, we made changes in Sec.  
411.180 to lower the educational requirements and the vocational or 
technical training requirements from expecting the beneficiary to carry 
a full-time course load in the first two years to carrying 60 percent 
of a full-time course load in the first year and 75 percent in the 
second year. This has the effect of lengthening the amount of time a 
beneficiary has to complete a degree or certification program, or a 
vocational or technical training program. We also provide that if a 
beneficiary completes a certain percentage of the work requirement and 
a certain percentage of the post-secondary education requirement or 
vocational or technical training requirement in the applicable progress 
certification period, and the sum of the two percentages equals 100 or 
more, we will consider the beneficiary to have met the timely progress 
requirements for purposes of the progress review conducted at the end 
of the 12-month progress certification period. In addition, we included 
a variance tolerance of 10 percent to make the requirements for 
completing a specified amount of credit hours or course requirements 
easier to achieve. These measures will increase the flexibility of 
these provisions and give beneficiaries more time to gradually progress 
toward their work or educational goals.
    Comment: A few commenters suggested that we give credit toward 
timely progress for Compensated Work Therapy, individuals in on-the-
job, supported employment and specialized training in a community 
rehabilitation agency.
    Response: We did not adopt this comment because the types of 
programs the commenters suggested may not be indicative of work that 
equates to trial work or SGA level earnings or training that typically 
leads directly to increased and sustained earnings at these levels. We 
will give credit for a post-secondary education program at an 
educational institution as defined in Sec.  411.167, or for vocational 
or technical training at a technical, trade or vocational school as 
defined in Sec.  411.167. We also will give credit for a high school 
diploma or a GED certificate obtained during the first 12-month 
progress certification period.
    Comment: Some commenters suggested using the Individualized Plan 
for Employment (IPE) as a measure of timely progress and others 
suggested we retain the prior rules for timely progress during the 
initial 24-month period.
    Response: We did not adopt these comments because they are 
inconsistent with the goals we are trying to accomplish with the 
revised timely progress guidelines. The IPE and IWP were essentially 
used to determine whether a beneficiary was making timely progress 
under the prior rules. We found that the initial 24-month period and 
the use of the IPE or IWP goals as a measure of timely progress did not 
always include specific enough rules to encourage the beneficiary to 
make concrete strides toward self-sufficiency early enough in the 
process. Furthermore, under the prior rules, the use of the IPE or IWP 
for progress reviews was administratively burdensome to service 
providers, who had to evaluate a beneficiary's goals and achievements 
under the IPE or IWP in order to provide the PM with their assessment 
as to whether the beneficiary was expected to meet the timely progress 
guidelines for the next progress review period.
    Comment: A commenter requested clarification on the type of 
administrative records and educational documentation to be used to 
determine whether a beneficiary is meeting the timely progress 
guidelines.
    Response: Social Security and SSI beneficiaries with disabilities 
are required to report their work and earnings to us. ENs and State VR 
agencies are also required to submit evidence of beneficiaries' 
earnings to support some types of payments under the Ticket to Work 
program. The administrative records referred to in Sec.  411.200 are 
our records that contain this information, including any Program 
Manager (PM) records, which may include additional information such as 
certification of educational accomplishments.
    Concerning the educational documentation, if our records do not 
show that the work or educational requirements have been met, we will 
send a letter to the beneficiary asking him or her to provide 
appropriate information about any work or educational progress made 
during the period. If the beneficiary does not respond, we will contact 
the EN or State VR agency. We plan to implement this part of the 
process in a way that should not be burdensome to ENs or State VR 
agencies. The PM will be accepting electronic notifications, and we 
will work to make the process as efficient as possible.

Section 411.192 What choices do I have if I am unable to make timely 
progress toward self-supporting employment?

    Comment: Some commenters suggested that we allow beneficiaries with 
significant disabilities who do not expect that they will ever meet the 
timely progress requirements and whose medical conditions are not 
likely to improve, the choice of opting out of having their ticket 
being considered ``in-use'' with a VR agency. This would prevent the PM 
from requesting the beneficiary or the State VR agency to submit 
information for purposes of progress reviews in situations where the 
beneficiary isn't expected to meet the timely progress requirements and 
where a medical CDR is a non-issue because medical improvement is 
unlikely.
    Response: In response to this comment, we modified Sec.  411.192 to 
provide that a beneficiary may request to have his or her ticket placed 
in inactive status if the beneficiary is temporarily or otherwise 
unable to make timely progress toward self-supporting employment.
    Comment: Some commenters requested that we clarify the role of the 
VR Agencies in providing evidence of tickets in-use under the cost 
reimbursement program and how to notify the PM when a beneficiary is 
receiving services under an IPE.
    Response: In order to extend CDR protection to beneficiaries, State 
VR agencies will need to inform the PM when they initiate an IPE. In 
addition, we will need to know when cases are closed so that we can end 
the ``in-use'' period and make the ticket available for assignment. We 
intend to implement this part of the process in a way that will be 
least burdensome to State VR agencies. The PM will be accepting 
electronic notifications, and we will work to make the process as 
efficient as possible. State VR agencies can continue using SSA Form 
SSA-1365 if they are assigning a ticket and choosing to be paid under 
an EN payment system rather than the cost reimbursement payment method.
    Comment: A few commenters suggested we extend the 90-day period for 
ticket assignment that begins after VR case closure by a State VR 
agency which elected the VR cost reimbursement option so the ticket can 
be available for assignment at any point after the VR case closure.
    Response: The beneficiary can assign the ticket any time after the 
VR case closure. We clarified in Sec.  411.140(a) of

[[Page 29335]]

the final rules that a beneficiary may assign the ticket during the 90-
day period after his or her case is closed by a State VR agency that 
elected the VR cost reimbursement option, without meeting the 
requirements of Sec.  411.125(a)(2). Also, if the beneficiary assigns 
the ticket within the 90-day period, the medical CDR protection does 
not lapse. Nevertheless, the beneficiary may assign the ticket at any 
time as long as he or she remains eligible to participate in the Ticket 
to Work program.

Section 411.171 When does the period of using a ticket end?

    Comment: Proposed Sec.  411.171(e)(1) and (f)(1) discussed when the 
period of using a ticket ended for a title II beneficiary (the 36th 
month for which an outcome payment is made to an EN) or title XVI 
beneficiary (the 60th month for which an outcome payment is made to an 
EN). One commenter noted that the language in paragraphs (e)(1) and 
(f)(1) of proposed Sec.  411.171 was not about ``the period of using a 
ticket'' as much as it related to when the ticket actually terminated 
and was no longer available for use with anyone. Therefore, the 
commenter recommended that it was more appropriate to put the language 
of these paragraphs into Sec.  411.155 (When does my ticket 
terminate?).
    Response: In response to this comment, we removed proposed Sec.  
411.171(e) and (f) from these final rules. We have incorporated in 
final Sec.  411.171(d) the discussion contained in proposed Sec.  
411.171(e)(2) and (f)(2) concerning when the period of using a ticket 
may end for a beneficiary receiving services from a State VR agency 
electing the VR cost reimbursement option.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the clock for ``timely 
progress'' be re-started to day 1 when the ticket-user assigns his or 
her ticket with an EN after receiving services from a State VR agency, 
because a beneficiary might find an EN unwilling to subsequently accept 
a ticket for assignment if the beneficiary has already used up a 
significant portion of the timely progress period during ``in-use'' 
status with the State VR agency.
    Response: We do not agree. We believe the new payment options 
provide sufficient incentives for ENs to accept tickets regardless of 
where the beneficiary is in the progress certification period. Timely 
progress rules only limit CDR protections, not the assignability of the 
ticket.

Subpart E--Employment Networks

Section 411.310 How does an entity other than a State VR agency apply 
to be an EN and who will determine whether an entity qualifies as an 
EN?

    Comment: Many commenters supported the decision to allow one-stop 
delivery systems to participate as ENs without responding to the RFP. 
While they supported making it easier for one-stop delivery systems to 
become ENs, they still had concerns about whether or not the one-stop 
delivery systems would be physically or programmatically accessible to 
people with disabilities.
    One commenter also suggested we include the Vocational 
Rehabilitation Services Projects for American Indians with Disabilities 
authorized under section 121 of part C of title I of the Rehabilitation 
Act of 1973 in the Ticket to Work program which could benefit their 
communities.
    Response: In order for a one-stop delivery system to operate as an 
EN and to remain an EN, they must enter into an agreement with us and 
must maintain compliance with both general and specific selection 
criteria found in Sec.  411.305 and Sec.  411.315. These sections 
require the EN to be physically and programmatically accessible to 
beneficiaries seeking services.
    We amended final Sec.  411.310(e) so that organizations 
administering Vocational Rehabilitation Services Projects for American 
Indians with Disabilities authorized under section 121 of part C of 
title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 may participate in the Ticket 
program without responding to the RFP. We made a corresponding change 
to final Sec.  411.315(f) to indicate that they must enter into an 
agreement with us and must maintain compliance with both general and 
specific selection criteria found in Sec. Sec.  411.305 and 411.315.
    Comment: Some commenters suggested we allow veterans programs under 
title 38 of the U.S.C. to apply to become an EN.
    Response: Section 1148(f)(1)(A) of the Act provides that an EN 
serving under the Ticket to Work program shall consist of an agency or 
instrumentality of a State (or a political subdivision thereof) or a 
private entity. Therefore, federally-operated veterans programs under 
title 38 of the U.S. Code are not eligible to participate as an EN. 
However, their contractors may qualify.

Subpart F--State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies' Participation

Section 411.385 What does a State VR agency do if a beneficiary who is 
eligible for VR services has a ticket that is available for assignment 
or reassignment?

    Comment: Noting that proposed Sec.  411.385 continued to require 
that a State VR agency submit the information prescribed in proposed 
Sec.  411.385(a) in order for us to consider a beneficiary to be 
``using a ticket,'' a number of State VR agencies indicated that this 
requirement requires a substantial amount of time and resources, and 
asked if this process could be simplified. Another commenter suggested 
that we continue to use the form SSA-1365 (Agency Ticket Assignment 
Form), but amend it so that it does not require the beneficiary's 
signature and it indicates whether the form is being submitted for ``in 
use'' purposes or is a request for ticket assignment. Another commenter 
recommended that we give consideration to allowing State VR agencies to 
submit a monthly list of beneficiaries being served in lieu of 
providing a paper copy of the signed IPE, to reduce the burden of 
collecting and submitting these copies.
    Response: While these final rules still require the submission of 
the information prescribed in Sec.  411.385, we are considering ways to 
simplify the process under which State VR agencies will notify the PM 
when an IPE is signed and the State VR agency has elected the VR cost 
reimbursement option. The PM will accept electronic notifications. We 
will work out an efficient means to allow the State VR agencies to 
regularly provide the PM a listing of ticket holders who recently 
signed an IPE.

Subpart H--Employment Network Payment Systems

    Comment: One commenter recommended simplification of the payment 
systems to only one system, in order to streamline the administration 
of the Ticket to Work program. The commenter suggested that the 
outcome-milestone system would appear to cover the widest range of 
possible employment situations.
    Response: We are unable to limit the EN payment systems to payment 
under only one system, because the Ticket legislation specifies in 
section 1148(h) of the Act that the Ticket to Work program shall 
provide ENs with a choice to be paid under either the outcome payment 
system or the outcome-milestone payment system.

[[Page 29336]]

    Comment: One commenter asked whether an EN could be compensated 
under the Ticket to Work program if the extended services provided 
following VR services are being funded from a different financial 
source.
    Response: Section 1148(b)(4) of the Social Security Act and Sec.  
411.570 of our regulations prohibit an EN from requesting or receiving 
compensation from the beneficiary for the services of the EN. 
Otherwise, nothing in the Ticket to Work rules would preclude an EN 
from seeking financial support for services being provided to a 
beneficiary. We encourage ENs to seek financial support from other 
sources for services provided to beneficiaries.

Section 411.515 Can the EN change its elected payment system?

    Comment: Section 411.515(b) provides the opportunity for an EN to 
make one change in its elected payment system at any time prior to the 
close of the 12th month following the month in which the EN first 
elects an EN payment system. One commenter noted that the 12-month 
period seems to be a minimal level of flexibility, given that State VR 
agencies can decide on a case-by-case basis whether to serve the 
beneficiary as an EN. Another commenter suggested that as a strategy to 
offer greater flexibility to ENs, we may want to consider allowing ENs 
the option of choosing the outcome or the outcome-milestone payment 
system on a case-by-case basis.
    Response: We removed Sec.  411.515(c), which says that after the 
year ends in which the beneficiary first elected a payment system, we 
will offer the opportunity for each EN to make a change in its elected 
payment system at least every 18 months. As revised, this section 
clarifies that after an EN elects a payment system, the EN can make one 
change in its elected payment system in each calendar year thereafter. 
We believe an annual opportunity to change the payment system election 
is reasonable and administratively prudent.

Section 411.525 What payments are available under each of the EN 
payment systems? and Sec.  411.535 Under what circumstances will 
milestones be paid?

    Comment: Proposed Sec.  411.535(a)(3) provided that ``If the 
beneficiary does not achieve all Phase 1 and Phase 2 milestones prior 
to the beginning of the beneficiary's outcome period, then we will pay 
the EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) the final milestone payment 
equal to the total amount of the remaining unpaid Phase 1 and Phase 2 
milestones.'' A number of commenters expressed concern about this 
provision. They noted that there might be unintended consequences from 
providing this final milestone payment in a lump sum, which could 
result in a financial disincentive to continuing serving a beneficiary 
after the first year, if the lump sum was paid because the beneficiary 
went to work and immediately left the benefit rolls, or might provide 
an incentive for the State VR agency to choose the less-challenging 
milestone payment system over the cost reimbursement payment system. 
Another commenter noted that the proposed outcome-milestone payment 
system could result in shifting too much of the Ticket to Work 
program's value to the first couple months of employment, thus 
diminishing a beneficiary's ability to negotiate for needed service 
later in his or her efforts to return to work. The commenter 
recommended that we review the lump sum milestone payment provision to 
ensure that beneficiaries do not lose this protection. Commenters also 
recommended withholding the lump sum payment for anywhere from 6 to 18 
months into the outcome period.
    Response: In response to these comments, we added Sec.  411.536 to 
explain how we will make the reconciliation payment if the beneficiary 
does not achieve all Phase 1 and Phase 2 milestones prior to the 
beginning of the beneficiary's outcome period.
    We will make a reconciliation payment to the EN once the 
beneficiary achieves 12 outcome payment months. Congress intended that 
milestone payments should lead to permanent employment. The 
reconciliation payment will be equal to the total of all Phase 1 and 2 
milestone payments which could have been payable with respect to a 
ticket but that were not paid prior to the beginning of the outcome 
payment period.
    Comment: Proposed Sec.  411.535(a)(4) provided that if the State VR 
agency already has received payment for services under the cost 
reimbursement payment system, we would not pay Phase 1 milestones to an 
EN. A number of commenters indicated that there are conditions under 
which an EN should be paid for Phase 1 milestones if the State VR 
Agency has received payment under cost reimbursement. They note that it 
is important that ENs and State VR agencies not be put in a position of 
``competing for ticket holders.'' While understanding our fiscal 
concern about paying for the same service twice, they still do not want 
to discourage ENs from referring beneficiaries to the State VR agencies 
for services or vice versa. One commenter requested that we attempt to 
craft a rule that focuses on the beneficiary and the employment 
outcomes they have achieved prior to ticket assignment and is not VR-
centric as in the NPRM.
    Response: We agree that the rules in this regard should broadly 
consider work before ticket assignment and not focus exclusively on 
cases where a beneficiary received services from a State VR agency. The 
intent of the Phase 1 milestone payments is to support the high costs 
ENs frequently incur during the initial job acquisition phase of return 
to work, e.g., job development and on-the-job training and support. In 
developing these rules, we also wanted to address the concerns that the 
ticket should not pay for employment results that have recently been 
attained. We attempted to address this by revising Sec.  411.535, 
``Under what circumstances will milestones be paid?'' In that section 
we preclude payment of all Phase 1 milestones if the State VR agency 
services, under the cost reimbursement option, ended in an employment 
outcome before case closure. In addition, we limit payment of some or 
all of Phase 1 milestones when the beneficiary had significant work 
activity prior to ticket assignment.

Section 411.566 May an EN use outcome or milestone payments to make 
payments to the beneficiary?

    Comment: Proposed Sec.  411.566 provided that an EN could use 
outcome or milestone payments to pay bonuses to beneficiaries. A number 
of commenters expressed concern that this new section might lead to 
expectation that an EN must make these payments to beneficiaries. 
Beyond that, commenters noted a concern on how these bonus payments 
would affect a beneficiary's benefits, e.g., by counting as unearned 
income for title XVI beneficiaries.
    Response: We changed the title of final Sec.  411.566 to ``May an 
EN use outcome or milestone payments to make payments to the 
beneficiary?'' and revised this section to remove references to these 
payments as bonus payments. We must count income under our rules, but 
we have work incentives outreach efforts to help beneficiaries plan for 
how income affects them. In addition to work incentives specialist 
within SSA, Sec.  1148 of the Act established Work Incentive Planning 
and Assistance Organizations in communities across the country that 
provide benefits planning and assistance to help beneficiaries 
anticipate and plan for the effect of work and earnings and other 
income,

[[Page 29337]]

such as the payments a beneficiary may receive from an EN, on their 
benefits.

Section 411.582 Can a State VR agency receive payment under the cost 
reimbursement system if a continuous 9-month period of substantial 
gainful activity is completed after the ticket is assigned to an EN?

    Comment: A number of commenters provided the example of a case in 
which the State VR agency selects the traditional cost reimbursement 
payment system using the form SSA-1365 and provides services to the 
beneficiary that cost $25,000. In this example, the beneficiary 
completes the VR services and the case is closed. Three months later 
the beneficiary assigns his or her ticket to an EN which chooses the 
proposed outcome milestone payment and provides both job placement and 
supported employment. The beneficiary is successful and his or her SSI 
checks stop. The commenter asked if the State VR agency would get the 
reimbursement of the $25,000 plus administrative costs, and if the EN 
would have the potential to receive the full value of the ticket.
    Response: The State VR agency can receive cost reimbursement and 
the EN can receive payments under its elected EN payment system with 
respect to the same ticket. After VR case closure an EN can receive 
Phase 2 milestone payments intended to support job retention and 
outcome payments. However, in the situation described by this 
commenter, the EN may be able to also receive Phase 1 milestones if the 
beneficiary did not achieve a successful employment outcome before the 
VR agency closed the case (see Sec.  411.535).
    Comment: One commenter noted that the citation to 34 CFR 361.12 in 
the proposed Sec.  411.582 is incomplete, and should be cited as 34 CFR 
part 361 because VR services are provided pursuant to a number of 
sections in part 361.
    Response: We agree, and corrected this citation in the final Sec.  
411.582.

Section 411.590 What can an EN do if the EN disagrees with our decision 
on a payment request?

    Comment: One commenter noted that while we proposed to revise Sec.  
411.590(d), we also proposed to retain language commented on in the 
past, i.e., ``While an EN cannot appeal our determination about an 
individual's right to benefits, the EN may furnish any evidence the EN 
has which relates to the issue(s) to be decided on appeal if the 
individual appeals our determination.'' The commenter remains concerned 
that this sentence appears to encourage ENs to turn against 
beneficiaries if the ENs are unsuccessful in disputes with us over 
whether payments are due to the EN. The commenter believes that should 
an EN lose its dispute with us, the only alternative we have offered is 
for the EN to submit evidence against the beneficiary in the 
beneficiary's claim for cash benefits. The commenter believes this 
approach creates the potential for a serious conflict between the 
beneficiary and the EN in a contractual arrangement where the 
beneficiary needs to trust that the EN is working in the beneficiary's 
best interest in job preparation, placement, and follow-up.
    Response: As we noted in response to this concern expressed by a 
number of commenters in the preamble to the prior regulations published 
on December 28, 2001 (66 FR 67370, 67416), we do not want to create an 
adversarial relationship between beneficiaries and ENs. For this 
reason, we clearly state in Sec.  411.590(c) and (d) of the prior rules 
that an EN cannot appeal a determination we make about a beneficiary's 
right to benefits, but an EN may furnish evidence in support of the 
EN's claim for payment.

Regulatory Procedures

Executive Order 12866

    We have consulted with the Office of Management and Budget and have 
determined that these final rules meet the criteria for an economically 
significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866, as amended.

Estimated Increases (+) and Decreases (-) in OASDI Benefits and Federal SSI Payments Due to the Provisions of the Final Rule Under Consideration for the
                                                      Ticket to Work Program, Fiscal Years 2008-18
                                                                      [In millions]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                              Fiscal year                                                   Totals
            Provision             ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     2008     2009     2010     2011     2012     2013     2014     2015     2016     2017     2018    2008-13   2008-18
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Change due to proposed new EN
 payment structure (including
 State VR agencies):
    OASDI benefit payments.......       $1       $7      $29      $93     $154     $233     $290     $342     $376     $405     $421      $517    $2,351
    Federal SSI payments.........        1       11       31       47       70       94      112      133      150      165      176       254       989
                                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Subtotal, OASDI and SSI..        2       19       60      140      224      326      403      474      525      570      597       771     3,340
Change due to deferral of CDRs:
    OASDI benefit payments.......  .......  .......     (1)\        2        5       12       21       32       44       58       76        20       251
    Federal SSI payments.........        -     (1)\        1        2        3        4        5        5        5        6        5        10        36
                                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Subtotal, OASDI and SSI..  .......     (1)\        1        4        8       16       26       36       50       64       81        30       287
Change due to increase in work
 activity among OASDI and SSI
 beneficiaries:
    OASDI benefit payments.......  .......  .......  .......       -3      -26      -71     -123     -178     -247     -305     -363       -99    -1,315
    Federal SSI payments.........     (2)\       -7      -28      -60      -75     -106     -128     -146     -176     -183     -185      -276    -1,093
                                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Subtotal, OASDI and SSI..     (2)\       -7      -28      -63     -101     -176     -251     -324     -422     -488     -548      -375    -2,408
Net total increase in outlays due
 to proposed rule changes:
    OASDI benefit payments.......        1        7       29       92      134      174      189      195      173      158      134       438     1,288
    Federal SSI payments.........        1        5        4      -11       -3       -8      -11       -8      -20      -13       -4       -12       -68
                                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total, OASDI and SSI.....        2       12       33       81      131      166      178      187      153      146      130       426     1,219
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Increase of less than $500,000.
\2\ Reduction of less than $500,000.
 
Notes:
1. See covering memorandum and table 1 for details of the proposed changes.
2. Above estimates are consistent with the assumptions underlying the President's FY 2009 Budget, and assume that a final regulation establishing the
  provisions of the proposed rule would become effective as of July 21, 2008.

[[Page 29338]]

 
3. Totals may not equal sum of rounded components.
4. SSI payments due on October 1st in fiscal years 2012, 2017 and 2018 are included in payments for the prior fiscal year.

    As required by OMB Circular A-4 (available at http://
www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/a004/a-4.pdf), in Table 2, we have 
prepared an accounting statement showing the annualized economic impact 
of implementing the Ticket to Work program. All estimated impacts are 
classified as transfers.

 Table 2.--Accounting Statement: Estimated Economic Impact of Provisions
                  To Enhance the Ticket to Work Program
                [Fiscal years 2008-2018 in 2008 dollars]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Category                             Transfers
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Annualized Monetized Transfers....  $98.8 million (7% discount rate).
                                    $102.6 million (3% discount rate).
From Whom To Whom?................  From the Social Security trust funds
                                     and the general fund to SSA
                                     beneficiaries.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    We certify that these final rules would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because they 
would primarily affect only individuals, and those entities that 
voluntarily enter into a contractual agreement with us. Accordingly, a 
regulatory flexibility analysis as provided in the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act, as amended, is not required.

Federalism

    We have reviewed these final rules under the threshold criteria of 
Executive Order 13132, ``Federalism,'' and determined that they do not 
have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship 
between the national government and the States, or the distribution of 
power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. 
These final rules will complement and enhance the existing State 
vocational rehabilitation program.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    We are revising our regulations for the Ticket to Work and Self-
Sufficiency Program (Ticket to Work program), which was authorized by 
the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999. The 
Ticket to Work program provides Social Security Disability Insurance 
and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries expanded options for 
access to employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and 
other support services. We are revising our prior rules to improve the 
overall effectiveness of the program to maximize the economic self-
sufficiency of beneficiaries through work opportunities. We have based 
these revisions on our projections of the future direction of the 
Ticket to Work program, our experience using the prior rules, and 
recommendations made by a number of commenters on the program.
    We published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on September 30, 2005 
at 70 FR 57222 and solicited comments under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
(PRA) on the public reporting requirements in Sec. Sec.  411.145(a), 
411.190, 411.325(a), 411.140(d)(3), 411.365(a), 411.385, 411.390 and 
411.575. We solicited comments on the burden estimate; the need for the 
information; its practical utility; ways to enhance its quality, 
utility, and clarity; and on ways to minimize the burden on 
respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or 
other forms of information technology. None of the comments submitted 
by the public on this regulation were related to these issues. On 
November 23, 2005 OMB filed comment on the NPRM in accordance with 5 
CFR 1320. In response to the comment, we clarified the reporting 
requirement in Sec.  411.325(a), ``What reporting requirements are 
placed on an EN as a participant in the Ticket to Work Program?''
    We published a second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on August 13, 
2007 at 72 FR 45191 and solicited comments under the PRA on the public 
reporting requirements in Sec. Sec.  411.192(b) and (c), 411.200(b), 
and 411.210. We solicited comments on the burden estimate; the need for 
the information; its practical utility; ways to enhance its quality, 
utility, and clarity; and on ways to minimize the burden on 
respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or 
other forms of information technology. None of the comments submitted 
by the public on this regulation were related to these issues.
    As required by the PRA, we have submitted a clearance request to 
OMB for approval. We will publish the OMB number and expiration date 
upon approval. Requests for the Information Collection Request Package 
should be directed to SSA through the SSA Reports Clearance Officer at 
410-965-0454 or to OPLM.RCO@ssa.gov.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 96.001, Social 
Security--Disability Insurance; 96.002, Social Security--Retirement 
Insurance; 96.004, Social Security--Survivors Insurance; and 96.006, 
Supplemental Security Income)

List of Subjects in 20 CFR Part 411

    Administrative practice and procedure, Blind, Disability benefits, 
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Social Security, Supplemental Security 
Income, Public Assistance programs, Vocational Rehabilitation.

    Dated: February 6, 2008.
Michael J. Astrue,
Commissioner of Social Security.

    Editorial Note: This document was received at the Office of the 
Federal Register on May 12, 2008.

0
For the reasons set out in the preamble, we are amending subparts A, B, 
C, E, F and H of part 411 of chapter III of title 20 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations as set forth below:

PART 411--THE TICKET TO WORK AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM

0
1. Revise the authority citation for part 411 to read as follows:

    Authority: Secs. 702(a)(5) and 1148 of the Social Security Act 
(42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5) and 1320b-19); sec. 101(b)-(e), Public Law 106-
170, 113 Stat. 1860, 1873 (42 U.S.C. 1320b-19 note).

Subpart A--[Amended]


Sec.  411.110  [Removed]

0
2. Remove Sec.  411.110.

0
3. In Sec.  411.115, redesignate paragraph (s) as paragraph (t) and add 
a new paragraph (s) to read as follows:

[[Page 29339]]

Sec.  411.115  Definitions of terms used in this part.

* * * * *
    (s) VR cost reimbursement option means an arrangement under which 
your ticket is not assigned to the State VR agency but you do receive 
services pursuant to an individualized plan for employment where the 
State VR agency has chosen to receive payment under the cost 
reimbursement payment system.
* * * * *

Subpart B--[Amended]

0
4. In Sec.  411.120, revise paragraphs (b) and (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.120  What is a ticket under the Ticket to Work program?

* * * * *
    (b) The left side of the ticket includes the beneficiary's name, 
ticket number, claim account number, and the date we issued the ticket. 
The ticket number is 12 characters and comprises the beneficiary's own 
social security number, the letters ``TW,'' and a number (1, 2, etc.) 
in the last position signifying that this is the first ticket, second 
ticket, etc., that the beneficiary has received.
    (c) The right side of the ticket includes the signature of the 
Commissioner of Social Security and provides a description of the 
Ticket to Work program. The description of the program will tell you 
how you may offer the ticket to an EN or State VR agency. The 
description will also tell you how the EN provides services to you.

0
5. In Sec.  411.125, revise paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2)(ii)(C), and 
remove paragraph (a)(3) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.125  Who is eligible to receive a ticket under the Ticket to 
Work program?

    (a) * * *
    (1) You are age 18 or older and have not attained age 65; and
    (2) * * *
    (ii) * * *
    (C) Your monthly Federal cash benefits based on disability or 
blindness under title XVI are not suspended (see subpart M of part 416 
of this chapter for our rules on suspension of title XVI benefit 
payments).
* * * * *

0
6. Revise Sec.  411.130 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.130  How will we distribute tickets under the Ticket to Work 
program?

    If you are eligible to receive a ticket under Sec.  411.125, we 
will send a ticket to you by mail.

0
7. Revise Sec.  411.135 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.135  What do I do when I receive a ticket?

    Your participation in the Ticket to Work program is voluntary. When 
you receive your ticket, you are free to choose when and whether to 
assign it (see Sec.  411.140 for information on assigning your ticket). 
If you want to participate in the program, you can take your ticket to 
any EN you choose or to your State VR agency. You may choose either to 
assign your ticket to an EN by signing an individual work plan (see 
Sec. Sec.  411.450 through 411.470) or receive services from your State 
VR agency by entering into and signing an individualized plan for 
employment. If the State VR agency provides services to you, it will 
decide whether to accept your ticket. If it accepts your ticket, you 
will have assigned your ticket to the State VR agency and it will 
receive payment as an EN. If the State VR agency decides to be paid 
under the cost reimbursement payment system, you have not assigned your 
ticket and you may assign your ticket after the State VR agency has 
closed your case.

0
8. In Sec.  411.140, revise the section heading, paragraph (a), the 
introductory text of paragraph (d), paragraph (d)(3), and the first 
sentence of paragraph (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.140  When may I assign my ticket and how?

    (a) You may assign your ticket during a month in which you meet the 
requirements of Sec.  411.125(a)(1) and (a)(2). You may assign your 
ticket during the 90-day period after your case is closed by a State VR 
agency that elected the VR cost reimbursement option (see Sec.  
411.171(d)), without meeting the requirements of Sec.  411.125(a)(2). 
You may assign your ticket to any EN which is serving under the program 
and is willing to provide you with services, or you may assign your 
ticket to a State VR agency acting as an EN if you are eligible to 
receive VR services under 34 CFR 361.42. You may not assign your ticket 
to more than one provider of services (i.e., an EN or a State VR 
agency) at a time. You may not assign your ticket until after the State 
VR agency has closed your case if you are receiving VR services 
pursuant to an individualized plan for employment from a State VR 
agency which has elected the VR cost reimbursement option. You also may 
not assign your ticket to a State VR agency if that VR agency 
previously served you and elected the VR cost reimbursement option and 
closed your case.
* * * * *
    (d) In order for you to assign your ticket to an EN or State VR 
agency acting as an EN, all of the following requirements must be met:
* * * * *
    (3) A representative of the EN must submit a copy of the signed IWP 
to the PM, or a representative of the State VR agency, acting as an EN, 
must submit the completed and signed form (as described in Sec.  
411.385(a) and (b)) to the PM.
* * * * *
    (e) If all of the requirements in paragraph (d) of this section are 
met, we will consider your ticket assigned to the EN or State VR agency 
acting as an EN. * * *

0
9. Revise Sec.  411.145 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.145  When can my ticket be taken out of assignment?

    (a) If you assigned your ticket to an EN or a State VR agency 
acting as an EN, you may take your ticket out of assignment for any 
reason. You must notify the PM in writing that you wish to take your 
ticket out of assignment. The ticket will be no longer assigned to that 
EN or State VR agency acting as an EN, effective with the first day of 
the month following the month in which you notify the PM in writing 
that you wish to take your ticket out of assignment. You will be sent a 
notice informing you that your ticket is no longer assigned to that EN 
or State VR agency. You may reassign your ticket under the rules in 
Sec.  411.150.
    (b) If your EN goes out of business or is no longer approved to 
participate as an EN in the Ticket to Work program, the PM will take 
your ticket out of assignment with that EN. The ticket will no longer 
be assigned to that EN effective on the first day of the month 
following the month in which the EN goes out of business or is no 
longer approved to participate in the Ticket to Work program. You will 
be sent a notice informing you that your ticket is no longer assigned 
to that EN. In addition, if your EN is no longer willing or able to 
provide you with services, or if your State VR agency acting as an EN 
stops providing services to you because you have been determined to be 
ineligible for VR services under 34 CFR 361.42, the EN or State VR 
agency acting as an EN may ask the PM to take your ticket out of 
assignment with that EN or State VR agency. The ticket will no longer 
be assigned to that EN or State VR agency acting as an EN effective on 
the first day of the month following the month in which the EN or State 
VR agency acting as an EN makes a request to the PM that the ticket be 
taken out of assignment.

[[Page 29340]]

You will be sent a notice informing you that your ticket is no longer 
assigned to that EN or State VR agency acting as an EN. You may 
reassign your ticket under the rules in Sec.  411.150.
    (c) For information about how taking a ticket out of assignment may 
affect medical reviews that we conduct to determine if you are still 
disabled under our rules, see Sec. Sec.  411.171(c) and 411.220.

0
10. In Sec.  411.150, revise the section heading, and paragraphs (a) 
and (b)(3) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.150  Can I reassign my ticket?

    (a) If you previously assigned your ticket and your ticket is no 
longer assigned (see Sec.  411.145), you may reassign your ticket, 
unless you are receiving benefit payments under Sec.  404.316(c), Sec.  
404.337(c), Sec.  404.352(d) or Sec.  404.1597a of this chapter, or you 
are receiving disability or blindness benefit payments under Sec.  
416.996 or Sec.  416.1338 of this chapter (the provisions of paragraph 
(b)(3) of this section notwithstanding). If you previously assigned 
your ticket to an EN, you may reassign your ticket to a different EN 
which is serving under the program and is willing to provide you with 
services, or you may reassign your ticket to a State VR agency acting 
as an EN if you are eligible to receive VR services under 34 CFR 
361.42. If you previously assigned your ticket to a State VR agency 
acting as an EN, you may reassign your ticket to an EN which is serving 
under the program and is willing to provide you with services, or to 
another State VR agency acting as an EN if you are eligible to receive 
VR services under 34 CFR 361.42.
    (b) * * *
    (3) You must meet the requirements of Sec.  411.125(a)(1) and (2) 
on or after the day you and a representative of the new EN sign your 
IWP or you and a representative of the State VR agency sign your IPE 
and the required form. You may reassign your ticket within 90 days of 
the effective date your ticket was no longer assigned, without meeting 
the requirements of Sec.  411.125(a)(2).
* * * * *

0
11. In Sec.  411.155, revise paragraphs (a)(2) and (a)(3), add a new 
paragraph (a)(4), remove the word ``or'' at the end of paragraph 
(c)(6), replace the period at the end of paragraph (c)(7) with ``; 
or'', and add a new paragraph (c)(8) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.155  When does my ticket terminate?

    (a) * * *
    (2) If you are entitled to widow's or widower's insurance benefits 
based on disability (see Sec. Sec.  404.335 and 404.336 of this 
chapter), the month in which you attain full retirement age;
    (3) If you are eligible for benefits under title XVI based on 
disability or blindness, the month following the month in which you 
attain age 65; or
    (4) The month after the month in which your outcome payment period 
ends (see Sec.  411.500(b)).
* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (8) The month after the month in which your outcome payment period 
ends (see Sec.  411.500(b)).

Subpart C--[Amended]

0
12. In Sec.  411.165, revise the section heading and the second 
sentence to read as follows:


Sec.  411.165  How does using a ticket under the Ticket to Work program 
affect my continuing disability reviews?

    * * * However, we will not begin a continuing disability review 
during the period in which you are using a ticket. * * *

0
13. Revise Sec.  411.166 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.166  Glossary of terms used in this subpart.

    (a) Using a ticket means you have assigned a ticket to an 
Employment Network (EN) or a State VR agency that has elected to serve 
you as an EN, and you are making timely progress toward self-supporting 
employment as defined in Sec.  411.180; or you have a ticket that would 
otherwise be available for assignment and are receiving VR services 
pursuant to an individualized plan for employment (IPE) and the State 
VR agency has chosen to be paid for these services under the cost 
reimbursement payment system, and you are making timely progress toward 
self-supporting employment as defined in Sec.  411.180. (See Sec.  
411.171 for when the period of using a ticket ends.)
    (b) Timely progress toward self-supporting employment means you 
have completed the specified goals of work and earnings, or completed 
the specified post-secondary education credits at an educational 
institution (see Sec.  411.167) in pursuit of a degree or certificate, 
or completed specified course requirements for a vocational or 
technical training program at an educational institution consisting of 
a technical, trade or vocational school (see Sec.  411.167), or 
completed a certain percentage of the work requirement and a certain 
percentage of the post-secondary education requirement or vocational or 
technical training requirement and the sum of the two percentages 
equals 100 or more (see Sec.  411.180(c)), or obtained a high school 
diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate in the 
applicable progress certification period as described in Sec.  411.180.
    (c) Timely progress guidelines mean the guidelines we use to 
determine if you are making timely progress toward self-supporting 
employment (see Sec.  411.180).
    (d) Progress certification period means any 12-month progress 
certification period described in Sec.  411.180(b).
    (e) Progress review means the reviews the PM conducts to determine 
if you are meeting the timely progress guidelines described in Sec.  
411.180. We explain the method for conducting progress reviews in Sec.  
411.200.
    (f) Extension period is a period of up to 90 days during which you 
may reassign a ticket without being subject to continuing disability 
reviews. You may be eligible for an extension period if the ticket is 
in use and no longer assigned to an EN or State VR agency acting as an 
EN (see Sec.  411.220).
    (g) Inactive status is a status in which you may place your ticket 
if you are temporarily or otherwise unable to make timely progress 
toward self-supporting employment during a progress certification 
period. See Sec.  411.192 for the rules on placing your ticket in 
inactive status and on reactivating your ticket.
    (h) Variance tolerance means the margin of flexibility whereby we 
will consider you to have met the requirement for completing a 
specified amount of post-secondary credit hours in an educational 
degree or certification program or the course requirements in a 
vocational or technical training program under Sec.  411.180 in the 
applicable progress certification period if your completion of credit 
hours or course requirements in this period is within 10% of the goal. 
Figures representing the number of credit hours required for the first 
and second progress certification periods as described in Sec.  411.180 
will be rounded by dropping any fractions. Under the variance 
tolerance, we also will consider you to have met the requirements in an 
applicable progress certification period if you complete a certain 
percentage of the work requirement and a certain percentage of the 
post-secondary education requirement or vocational or technical 
training requirement in the period and the sum of the two percentages 
is within 10% of the goal. See Sec.  411.180(a) and (c).

[[Page 29341]]

    (i) VR cost reimbursement option means an arrangement under which 
your ticket is not assigned to the State VR agency but you do receive 
services pursuant to an individualized plan for employment where the 
State VR agency has chosen to receive payment under the cost 
reimbursement payment system.
    (j) VR cost reimbursement status means the status of your ticket 
under the arrangement described in paragraph (i) of this section. The 
period during which your ticket is in VR cost reimbursement status 
begins on the date described in Sec.  411.170(b) and ends on the date 
your case is closed by the State VR agency.

0
14. Add Sec.  411.167 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.167  What is an educational institution or a technical, trade 
or vocational school?

    (a) Educational institution means a school (including a technical, 
trade, or vocational school), junior college, college or university 
that is: operated or directly supported by the United States; operated 
or directly supported by any State or local government or by a 
political subdivision of any State or local government; or approved by 
a State agency or subdivision of the State, or accredited by a State-
recognized or nationally recognized accrediting body.
    (b) Technical, trade or vocational school is an educational 
institution that is approved by a State agency or subdivision of the 
State or accredited by a State-recognized or nationally recognized 
accrediting body to provide technical, trade or vocational training.
    (c) State-recognized accrediting body means an entity designated or 
recognized by a State as the proper authority for accrediting schools, 
colleges or universities.
    (d) Nationally recognized accrediting body means an entity 
determined to be such by the U.S. Department of Education.
    (e) Approval by a State agency or subdivision of the State includes 
approval of a school, college or university as an educational 
institution, or approval of one or more of the courses offered by a 
school, college or university.

0
15. Remove the undesignated center heading before Sec.  411.170.

0
16. Revise Sec.  411.170 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.170  When does the period of using a ticket begin?

    (a) The period of using a ticket begins on the effective date of 
the assignment of your ticket to an EN or State VR agency under Sec.  
411.140.
    (b) If you have a ticket that would otherwise be available for 
assignment and are receiving VR services pursuant to an individualized 
plan for employment (IPE) and the State VR agency has elected the VR 
cost reimbursement option, the period of using a ticket begins on the 
later of--
    (1) The effective date of your IPE; or
    (2) The first day your ticket would otherwise have been assignable 
if you had not been receiving services from a State VR agency that 
elected the VR cost reimbursement option.

0
17. Revise Sec.  411.171 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.171  When does the period of using a ticket end?

    The period of using a ticket ends with the earliest of the 
following--
    (a) The last day of the month before the month in which the ticket 
terminates as a result of one of the events listed in Sec.  411.155 
(see Sec.  411.155(a)(4) and (c)(8) for when your ticket terminates if 
your outcome payment period ends);
    (b) The day before the effective date of a decision under Sec.  
411.200 or Sec.  411.205 that you are no longer making timely progress 
toward self-supporting employment;
    (c) The last day of the 90-day extension period which begins with 
the first day of the first month in which your ticket is no longer 
assigned to an EN or State VR agency acting as an EN (see Sec.  
411.145), unless you reassign your ticket within the 90-day extension 
period (see Sec.  411.220 for an explanation of the 90-day extension 
period); or
    (d) If your ticket was in VR cost reimbursement status as described 
in Sec.  411.166(j), the 90th day following the date the State VR 
agency closes your case, unless you assign your ticket during this 90-
day period.

0
18. In Sec.  411.175, revise the section heading and the first and 
fourth sentences of paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.175  What if a continuing disability review is begun before 
my ticket is in use?

    (a) If we begin a continuing disability review before the date on 
which your ticket is in use, you may still assign the ticket and 
receive services from an EN or a State VR agency acting as an EN under 
the Ticket to Work program, or you may still receive services from a 
State VR agency that elects the VR cost reimbursement option. * * * 
However, if your ticket was in use before we determined that you are no 
longer disabled, in certain circumstances you may continue to receive 
benefit payments (see Sec. Sec.  404.316(c), 404.337(c), 404.352(d), 
and 416.1338 of this chapter). * * *
* * * * *

0
19. Remove the undesignated center heading before Sec.  411.180.
0
20. Revise Sec.  411.180 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.180  What is timely progress toward self-supporting 
employment?

    (a) General. We consider you to be making timely progress toward 
self-supporting employment when you show progress as described below 
toward the ability to work at levels which will reduce your dependence 
on Social Security disability benefits or SSI benefits. We will also 
consider you to be making timely progress when you obtain a high school 
diploma or GED certificate in the first 12-month progress certification 
period, or if you show progress as described below toward obtaining an 
educational degree or certificate or vocational or technical training 
that will enhance your ability to return to work. In addition, if you 
complete a certain percentage of the work requirement and a certain 
percentage of the post-secondary education requirement or vocational or 
technical training requirement in the applicable progress certification 
period under the guidelines below, and the sum of the two percentages 
equals 100 or more, we will consider you to have met the timely 
progress requirements for purposes of the progress review conducted at 
the end of the 12-month progress certification period. For example, if 
you complete 33.3 percent of the work requirement during the first 12-
month progress certification period as described in paragraph (c)(1)(i) 
of this section (i.e., one month of work with earnings equal to or 
greater than the amount representing a trial work service month), and 
complete 66.7 percent of the requisite credit hours in an educational 
program during this period as described in paragraph (c)(1)(iii) of 
this section (i.e., 40 percent of the post-secondary credit hours that 
are considered to represent an academic year of full-time study), we 
will consider you to have met the timely progress requirements for 
purposes of the progress review conducted at the end of the first 12-
month progress certification period. In addition, we will apply the 
variance tolerance described in Sec.  411.166(h) in determining whether 
you have met the requirements in paragraph (c)(1)(iii), (iv) or (v), 
paragraph (c)(2)(ii), (iii) or (iv), paragraph (c)(3)(iii) or (v), 
paragraph (c)(4)(ii) or (iii), or paragraph (c)(5)(ii) or (iii) of this 
section.

[[Page 29342]]

    (b) 12-month progress certification periods. The first 12-month 
progress certification period begins with the month following the month 
in which you first assigned your ticket, or with the month beginning 
after the date described in Sec.  411.170(b) if you have a ticket that 
would otherwise be available for assignment and are receiving VR 
services under an IPE from a State VR agency which has chosen the VR 
cost reimbursement option. Any subsequent 12-month progress 
certification period will begin with the month following the end of the 
previous 12-month progress certification period. In computing any 12-
month progress certification period, we do not count any month during 
which--
    (1) Your ticket is not assigned to an EN or State VR agency acting 
as an EN and is not in VR cost reimbursement status (as described in 
Sec.  411.166(j)); or
    (2) Your ticket is in inactive status (see Sec.  411.192).
    (c) Guidelines. We will determine if you are making timely progress 
toward self-supporting employment by using the following guidelines:
    (1) During the first 12-month progress certification period, you 
must be making timely progress as follows:
    (i) You must have worked in at least three months within this 12-
month period and have earnings in each of those three months that are 
equal to or greater than the amount representing a trial work service 
month (see Sec.  404.1592(b) of this chapter); or
    (ii) You must have obtained a high school diploma or GED 
certificate within this 12-month period; or
    (iii) You must have been enrolled in a two- or four-year degree or 
certification program at an educational institution and have completed 
60 percent of the post-secondary credit hours that are considered to 
represent an academic year of full-time study in the program by the end 
of this 12-month period; or
    (iv) You must have been enrolled in a vocational or technical 
training program at an educational institution consisting of a 
technical, trade or vocational school and have completed 60 percent of 
the course requirements that are considered to represent a year of 
full-time study in the program by the end of this 12-month period; or
    (v) You must have completed a percentage of the required number of 
months of work and earnings described in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this 
section and a percentage of the specified amount of post-secondary 
credit hours or course requirements required under paragraph 
(c)(1)(iii) or (iv) of this section within this 12-month period so that 
the sum of the two percentages equals 100 or more.
    (2) During the second 12-month progress certification period, at 
the conclusion of 24 months of ticket use, you must be making timely 
progress as follows:
    (i) You must have worked in at least six months within this 12-
month period and have earnings in each of those six months that are 
equal to or greater than the amount representing a trial work service 
month (see Sec.  404.1592(b) of this chapter); or
    (ii) You must have been enrolled in a two- or four-year degree or 
certification program at an educational institution and have completed 
an additional 75 percent of the post-secondary credit hours that are 
considered to represent an academic year of full-time study in the 
program by the end of this 12-month period; or
    (iii) You must have been enrolled in a vocational or technical 
training program at an educational institution consisting of a 
technical, trade or vocational school and have completed an additional 
75 percent of the course requirements that are considered to represent 
a year of full-time study in the program by the end of this 12-month 
period; or
    (iv) You must have completed a percentage of the required number of 
months of work and earnings described in paragraph (c)(2)(i) of this 
section and a percentage of the specified amount of post-secondary 
credit hours or course requirements required under paragraph (c)(2)(ii) 
or (iii) of this section within this 12-month period so that the sum of 
the two percentages equals 100 or more.
    (3) During the third 12-month progress certification period, at the 
conclusion of 36 months of ticket use, you must be making timely 
progress as follows:
    (i) You must have worked in at least nine months within this 12-
month period and have gross earnings from employment (or net earnings 
from self-employment as defined in Sec.  404.1080 of this chapter) in 
each of those nine months that are more than the SGA threshold amount 
specified in Sec.  404.1574(b)(2) of this chapter; or
    (ii) You must have completed the course work and earned a degree or 
certificate from a two-year degree or certification program at an 
educational institution by the end of this 12-month period; or
    (iii) You must have been enrolled in a four-year degree or 
certification program at an educational institution and completed 
additional post-secondary credit hours that are considered to represent 
an academic year of full-time study in the program by the end of this 
12-month period; or
    (iv) You must have been enrolled in a vocational or technical 
training program at an educational institution consisting of a 
technical, trade or vocational school and have completed the course 
requirements of the program by the end of this 12-month period; or
    (v) You must have completed a percentage of the required number of 
months of work and earnings described in paragraph (c)(3)(i) of this 
section and a percentage of the specified amount of post-secondary 
credit hours required under paragraph (c)(3)(iii) of this section 
within this 12-month period so that the sum of the two percentages 
equals 100 or more.
    (4) During the fourth 12-month progress certification period, at 
the conclusion of 48 months of ticket use, you must be making timely 
progress as follows:
    (i) You must have worked in at least nine months within this 12-
month period and have gross earnings from employment (or net earnings 
from self-employment as defined in Sec.  404.1080 of this chapter) in 
each of those nine months that are more than the SGA threshold amount 
specified in Sec.  404.1574(b)(2) of this chapter; or
    (ii) You must have been enrolled in a four-year degree or 
certification program at an educational institution and completed 
additional post-secondary credit hours that are considered to represent 
an academic year of full-time study in the program by the end of this 
12-month period; or
    (iii) You must have completed a percentage of the required number 
of months of work and earnings described in paragraph (c)(4)(i) of this 
section and a percentage of the specified amount of post-secondary 
credit hours required under paragraph (c)(4)(ii) of this section within 
this 12-month period so that the sum of the two percentages equals 100 
or more.
    (5) During the fifth 12-month progress certification period, at the 
conclusion of 60 months of ticket use, you must be making timely 
progress as follows:
    (i) You must have worked in at least six months within this 12-
month period and have earnings in each of those six months that 
preclude payment of Social Security disability benefits and Federal SSI 
cash benefits; or
    (ii) You must have been enrolled in a four-year degree or 
certification program at an educational institution and either 
completed additional post-secondary credit hours that are considered to 
represent an academic year of full-time study in the program or 
completed the course work and earned a degree or

[[Page 29343]]

certificate from the program by the end of this 12-month period; or
    (iii) You must have completed a percentage of the required number 
of months of work and earnings described in paragraph (c)(5)(i) of this 
section and a percentage of the specified amount of post-secondary 
credit hours required under paragraph (c)(5)(ii) of this section within 
this 12-month period so that the sum of the two percentages equals 100 
or more.
    (6) During the sixth 12-month progress certification period, at the 
conclusion of 72 months of ticket use, you must be making timely 
progress as follows:
    (i) You must have worked in at least six months within this 12-
month period and have earnings in each of those six months that 
preclude payment of Social Security disability benefits and Federal SSI 
cash benefits; or
    (ii) You must have completed the course work and earned a degree or 
certificate from a four-year degree or certification program at an 
educational institution by the end of this 12-month period.
    (7) During all subsequent 12-month progress certification periods, 
you must have worked in at least six months within the 12-month period 
and have earnings in each of those six months that preclude payment of 
Social Security disability benefits and Federal SSI cash benefits.


Sec.  411.185  [Removed]

0
21. Remove Sec.  411.185.


Sec.  411.190  [Removed]

0
22. Remove Sec.  411.190.


Sec.  411.191  [Removed]

0
23. Remove Sec.  411.191.

0
24. Add Sec.  411.192 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.192  What choices do I have if I am unable to make timely 
progress toward self-supporting employment?

    (a) If you report to the PM that you are temporarily or otherwise 
unable to make timely progress toward self-supporting employment during 
a progress certification period, the PM will give you the choice of 
placing your ticket in inactive status or, if applicable, taking your 
ticket out of assignment with the EN or State VR agency acting as an 
EN. The choice of placing your ticket in inactive status applies 
whether your ticket is assigned or in VR cost reimbursement status (as 
described in Sec.  411.166(j)).
    (b) You may place your ticket in inactive status at any time by 
submitting a written request to the PM asking that your ticket be 
placed in inactive status. Your ticket will be placed in inactive 
status beginning with the first day of the month following the month in 
which you make your request. You are not considered to be using a 
ticket during months in which your ticket is in inactive status. 
Therefore, you will be subject to continuing disability reviews during 
those months. The months in which your ticket is in inactive status do 
not count toward the time limitations for making timely progress toward 
self-supporting employment.
    (c) You may reactivate your ticket and return to in-use status if 
your ticket is still assigned to an EN or State VR agency acting as an 
EN. You may also reactivate your ticket and return to in-use status if 
you have a ticket which would otherwise be available for assignment, 
you were receiving services under an IPE from a State VR agency which 
chose the VR cost reimbursement option, and your VR case has not been 
closed by the State VR agency. You may reactivate your ticket by 
submitting a written request to the PM. Your ticket will be reactivated 
beginning with the first day of the month following the month in which 
the PM receives your request. The progress certification period will 
resume counting from the last month of in-use status, and the next 
progress review will be due when the progress certification period has 
been completed. Earnings from work, obtaining a high school diploma or 
GED certificate, or completion of post-secondary education credits in a 
two- or four-year degree or certification program or course 
requirements in a vocational or technical training program, as 
described in Sec.  411.180, during the period your ticket is in 
inactive status may be counted toward meeting the requirements for the 
next progress review.
    (d) You may take your ticket out of assignment under Sec.  
411.145(a) at any time.


Sec.  411.195  [Removed]

0
25. Remove Sec.  411.195.

0
26. Revise Sec.  411.200 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.200  How will the PM conduct my progress reviews?

    The PM will conduct a progress review at the end of each 12-month 
progress certification period.
    (a) The PM will first review the available administrative records 
to determine if you completed the work requirements as specified in 
Sec.  411.180 in the applicable progress certification period.
    (b) If the administrative records do not indicate that you met the 
work requirements, the PM will contact either you or your EN or State 
VR agency to request additional information to determine if you 
completed the work requirements or have met the educational or training 
requirements as specified in Sec.  411.180 in the applicable progress 
certification period.
    (c) If the PM finds that you completed the work requirements or met 
the educational or training requirements as specified in Sec.  411.180 
in the applicable progress certification period, the PM will find that 
you are making timely progress toward self-supporting employment. On 
the basis of that finding, we will consider you to be making timely 
progress toward self-supporting employment until your next scheduled 
progress review.
    (d) If the PM finds that you did not complete the work requirements 
or meet the educational or training requirements as specified in Sec.  
411.180 in the applicable progress certification period, the PM will 
find that you are not making timely progress toward self-supporting 
employment. If the PM makes such a finding, the PM will send a written 
notice of the decision to you at your last known address. This notice 
will explain the reasons for the decision and inform you of the right 
to ask us to review the decision. This decision will be effective 30 
days after the date on which the PM sends the notice of the decision to 
you, unless you request that we review the decision under Sec.  
411.205.

0
27. In Sec.  411.210, revise paragraph (b), the heading of paragraph 
(c), and the fourth sentences of both paragraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  411.210  What happens if I do not make timely progress toward 
self-supporting employment?

* * * * *
    (b) Re-entering in-use status. If you failed to meet the timely 
progress guidelines for a 12-month progress certification period and 
you believe that you have now met the applicable requirements for that 
progress certification period as described in Sec.  411.180, you may 
request that you be reinstated to in-use status. In order to do so, you 
must submit a written request to the PM asking that you be reinstated 
to in-use status and you must provide evidence showing that you have 
met the applicable requirements for the progress certification period. 
The PM will decide whether you have satisfied the applicable 
requirements for the progress certification period and may be 
reinstated to in-use status. If the PM determines you have met the 
applicable requirements for the progress certification period, you will 
be

[[Page 29344]]

reinstated to in-use status, provided that your ticket is assigned to 
an EN or State VR agency acting as an EN or in VR cost reimbursement 
status (as described in Sec.  411.166(j)). See paragraph (c) of this 
section for when your reinstatement to in-use status will be effective. 
The month after you are reinstated to in-use status, your next 12-month 
progress certification period will begin.
    (c) Decisions on re-entering in-use status. (1) * * * If the PM 
decides that you have satisfied the requirements for re-entering in-use 
status (including the requirement that your ticket be assigned to an EN 
or State VR agency acting as an EN or in VR cost reimbursement status), 
you will be reinstated to in-use status effective with the date on 
which the PM sends the notice of the decision to you. * * *
    (2) * * * If we decide that you have satisfied the requirements for 
re-entering in-use status (including the requirement that your ticket 
be assigned to an EN or State VR agency acting as an EN or in VR cost 
reimbursement status), you will be reinstated to in-use status 
effective with the date on which we send the notice of the decision to 
you.

0
28. In Sec.  411.220, revise the first sentence of paragraph (a), 
revise paragraph (d)(2), remove paragraph (e), and redesignate 
paragraph (f) as paragraph (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.220  What if my ticket is no longer assigned to an EN or 
State VR agency?

    (a) If your ticket was once assigned to an EN or State VR agency 
acting as an EN and is no longer assigned, you are eligible for an 
extension period of up to 90 days to reassign your ticket. * * *
* * * * *
    (d) * * *
* * * * *
    (2) Ends 90 days after it begins or when you assign your ticket to 
a new EN or State VR agency, whichever is sooner.
* * * * *

0
29. In Sec.  411.225, revise paragraphs (b) and (c), and remove 
paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.225  What if I reassign my ticket after the end of the 
extension period?

* * * * *
    (b) Time limitations for the timely progress guidelines. Any month 
during which your ticket is not assigned and not in VR cost 
reimbursement status (as described in Sec.  411.166(j)), either during 
or after the extension period, will not count toward the time 
limitations for the timely progress guidelines.
    (c) If you reassign your ticket after the end of the extension 
period. If you reassign your ticket after the end of the extension 
period, the period comprising the remaining months in the applicable 
12-month progress certification period will begin with the first month 
beginning after the day on which the reassignment of your ticket is 
effective under Sec.  411.150(c).

0
30. Add Sec.  411.226 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.226  How will SSA determine if I am meeting the timely 
progress guidelines if I assign my ticket prior to July 21, 2008?

    (a) If you assigned your ticket to an EN or State VR agency prior 
to July 21, 2008, we will determine which 12-month progress 
certification period in Sec.  411.180 you are in as of July 21, 2008 
using the rules in paragraph (a)(1) of this section. We will not 
conduct a progress review at the end of that progress certification 
period. We will conduct a progress review at the end of your next 
progress certification period as explained in paragraph (a)(2) of this 
section.
    (1) We will consider you to be in the first or a subsequent 12-
month progress certification period under Sec.  411.180 as of July 21, 
2008. We will determine your applicable 12-month progress certification 
period and the number of months remaining in that period as of July 21, 
2008 by counting all months during which your ticket was assigned and 
in use during the period--
    (i) Beginning with the month following the month in which you first 
assigned your ticket under the rules in effect prior to July 21, 2008; 
and
    (ii) Ending with the close of June 2008.
    (2) We will use the timely progress guidelines in Sec.  411.180(c) 
beginning with your next 12-month progress certification period. At the 
conclusion of that progress certification period, we will conduct a 
progress review to determine whether you are making timely progress 
toward self-supporting employment using the guidelines in Sec.  
411.180(c) that apply in that period.
    (b) Prior to the conclusion of your applicable 12-month progress 
certification period determined under paragraph (a)(1) of this section, 
we will send you a notice telling you that we will not conduct a 
progress review at the end of that progress certification period, and 
that we will conduct a progress review at the conclusion of your next 
12-month progress certification period using the guidelines in Sec.  
411.180(c). We will tell you in the notice when this next 12-month 
progress certification period will begin and will describe the specific 
timely progress guidelines you must meet in this 12-month period.
    (c) Subsequent 12-month progress certification periods will follow 
the rules in Sec.  411.180.
    (d) If, on June 30, 2008, your ticket is in use and assigned to a 
State VR agency which chose to be paid for services it provides to you 
under the cost reimbursement payment system, your period of using a 
ticket may continue under the rules in this subpart, including the 
rules in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of this section. While your ticket 
may still be considered in-use for the purpose of the suspension of 
continuing disability reviews, it will no longer be considered assigned 
to that State VR agency effective July 21, 2008. You may assign your 
ticket after the State VR agency has closed your case.

Subpart E--[Amended]

0
31. In Sec.  411.310, add paragraphs (d) and (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.310  How does an entity other than a State VR agency apply to 
be an EN and who will determine whether an entity qualifies as an EN?

* * * * *
    (d) One-stop delivery systems established under subtitle B of title 
I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (29 U.S.C. 2811 et seq.) may 
participate in the Ticket to Work program as ENs and do not need to 
respond to the RFP. However, in order to participate in the Ticket to 
Work program, the one-stop delivery system must enter into an agreement 
with the Commissioner to be an EN and must maintain compliance with 
general and specific selection criteria as described in Sec.  411.315 
in order to remain an EN.
    (e) Organizations administering Vocational Rehabilitation Services 
Projects for American Indians with Disabilities authorized under 
section 121 of part C of title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as 
amended (29 U.S.C. 741), may participate in the Ticket to Work program 
as ENs and do not need to respond to the RFP. However, in order to 
participate in the Ticket to Work program, the organization 
administering the project must enter into an agreement with the 
Commissioner to be an EN and must maintain compliance with general and 
specific selection criteria as described in Sec.  411.315 in order to 
remain an EN.

0
32. In Sec.  411.315, add paragraphs (e) and (f) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.315  What are the minimum qualifications necessary to be an 
EN?

* * * * *
    (e) One-stop delivery systems established under subtitle B of title 
I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998

[[Page 29345]]

(29 U.S.C. 2811 et seq.) are qualified to be ENs. A one-stop delivery 
system must enter into an agreement with the Commissioner to be an EN 
and must maintain compliance with general and specific selection 
criteria of this section and Sec.  411.305 in order to remain an EN.
    (f) Organizations administering Vocational Rehabilitation Services 
Projects for American Indians with Disabilities authorized under 
section 121 of part C of title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as 
amended (29 U.S.C. 741), are qualified to be ENs. An organization 
administering such a project must enter into an agreement with the 
Commissioner to be an EN and must maintain compliance with general and 
specific selection criteria of this section and Sec.  411.305 in order 
to remain an EN.

0
33. In Sec.  411.325, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.325  What reporting requirements are placed on an EN as a 
participant in the Ticket to Work program?

* * * * *
    (a) Report to the PM in writing each time the EN accepts a ticket 
for assignment or the EN no longer wants a ticket assigned to it;
* * * * *

Subpart F--[Amended]

0
34. Revise Sec.  411.350 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.350  Must a State VR agency participate in the Ticket to Work 
program?

    A State VR agency may elect, but is not required, to participate in 
the Ticket to Work program as an EN. The State VR agency may elect on a 
case-by-case basis to participate in the Ticket to Work program as an 
EN, or it may elect to provide services to beneficiaries under the VR 
cost reimbursement option. (See Sec.  411.115(s) for a definition of 
the VR cost reimbursement option.)

0
35. In Sec.  411.355, revise the section heading, the third sentence of 
the introductory text of paragraph (a), and the last sentence of 
paragraph (c), and remove paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.355  What payment options does a State VR agency have?

    (a) * * * On a case-by-case basis, the State VR agency may 
participate either--
* * * * *
    (c) * * * When serving a beneficiary who does not have a ticket 
that can be assigned pursuant to Sec.  411.140, the State VR agency may 
seek payment only under the cost reimbursement payment system.


Sec.  411.360  [Removed]

0
36. Remove Sec.  411.360.

0
37. In Sec.  411.365, revise the section heading and paragraph (a) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  411.365  How does a State VR agency notify us about its choice of 
a payment system for use when functioning as an EN?

    (a) The State VR agency must send us a letter telling us which EN 
payment system it will use when it functions as an EN with respect to a 
beneficiary who has a ticket.
* * * * *


Sec.  411.370  [Removed]

0
38. Remove Sec.  411.370.

0
39. In Sec.  411.385, revise the introductory text of paragraph (a) and 
paragraph (a)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.385  What does a State VR agency do if a beneficiary who is 
eligible for VR services has a ticket that is available for assignment 
or reassignment?

    (a) Once the State VR agency determines that a beneficiary is 
eligible for VR services, the beneficiary and a representative of the 
State VR agency must agree to and sign the individualized plan for 
employment (IPE) required under section 102(b) of the Rehabilitation 
Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 722(b)). The State VR agency must 
submit the following information to the PM in order for the 
beneficiary's ticket to be considered in use:
    (1) A statement that an IPE has been agreed to and signed by both 
the beneficiary and a representative of the State VR agency;
* * * * *

0
40. Revise Sec.  411.390 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.390  What does a State VR agency do if a beneficiary to whom 
it is already providing services has a ticket that is available for 
assignment?

    If a beneficiary who is receiving services from the State VR agency 
under an existing IPE becomes eligible for a ticket that is available 
for assignment, the State VR agency must submit the information 
required in Sec.  411.385(a) to the PM. We require this information in 
order for the beneficiary's ticket to be considered in use. If a 
beneficiary who is receiving services from the State VR agency under an 
existing IPE becomes eligible for a ticket that is available for 
assignment, the State VR agency is limited to the cost reimbursement 
payment system, unless both the beneficiary and the State VR agency 
agree to have the ticket assigned to the State VR agency.

Subpart H--[Amended]

0
41. In Sec.  411.500, revise paragraphs (b), (c), (e), and (f) and add 
paragraphs (g) and (h) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.500  Definitions of terms used in this subpart.

* * * * *
    (b) Outcome Payment Period means a period of 36 months for a title 
II disability beneficiary or a period of 60 months for a title XVI 
disability beneficiary who is not concurrently a title II disability 
beneficiary, not necessarily consecutive, for which Social Security 
disability benefits and Federal SSI cash benefits are not payable to 
the beneficiary because of the performance of substantial gainful 
activity (SGA) or by reason of earnings from work activity. The outcome 
payment period begins with the first month, ending after the date on 
which the ticket was first assigned to an EN (or to a State VR agency 
acting as an EN), for which such benefits are not payable to the 
beneficiary because of SGA or by reason of earnings from work activity. 
The outcome payment period ends as follows:
    (1) For a title II disability beneficiary (including a concurrent 
title II/title XVI disability beneficiary), the outcome payment period 
ends with the 36th month, consecutive or otherwise, ending after the 
date on which the ticket was first assigned to an EN (or to a State VR 
agency acting as an EN), for which Social Security disability benefits 
and Federal SSI cash benefits are not payable to the beneficiary 
because of earnings from work activity (except as provided for in Sec.  
411.551).
    (2) For a title XVI disability beneficiary who is not concurrently 
a title II disability beneficiary, the outcome payment period ends with 
the 60th month, consecutive or otherwise, ending after the date on 
which the ticket was first assigned to an EN (or to a State VR agency 
acting as an EN), for which Federal SSI cash benefits are not payable 
to the beneficiary by reason of earnings from work activity (except as 
provided for in Sec.  411.551).
    (c) Outcome Payment System is a system providing a schedule of 
payments to an EN (or a State VR agency acting as an EN) for each 
month, during an individual's outcome payment period, for which Social 
Security disability benefits and Federal SSI cash benefits are not 
payable to the individual because of work or earnings.
* * * * *
    (e) Outcome Payment Month means a month, during the beneficiary's 
outcome payment period, for which Social

[[Page 29346]]

Security disability benefits and Federal SSI cash benefits are not 
payable to the beneficiary because of work or earnings.
    (f) Outcome-Milestone Payment System is a system providing a 
schedule of payments to an EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) that 
includes, in addition to any outcome payments which may be made during 
the individual's outcome payment period, payments for completion by a 
title II or title XVI disability beneficiary of up to four Phase 1 
milestones; and up to eleven Phase 2 milestones for a title II 
disability beneficiary or a concurrent beneficiary or up to eighteen 
Phase 2 milestones for a title XVI disability beneficiary who is not a 
concurrent title II disability beneficiary.
    (1) Phase 1 milestones are based on the beneficiary achieving a 
level of earnings that reflects initial efforts at self-supporting 
employment. They are based on the earnings threshold that we use to 
establish a trial work period service month as defined in Sec.  
404.1592(b) of this chapter. We use this threshold amount as defined in 
Sec.  404.1592(b) of this chapter in order to measure whether the 
beneficiary's earnings level meets the milestone objective.
    (2) Phase 2 milestones are based on the beneficiary achieving a 
level of earnings that reflects substantial efforts at self-supporting 
employment. They are based on the earnings threshold that we use to 
determine if work activity is SGA. We use the SGA earnings threshold 
amount in Sec.  404.1574(b)(2) of this chapter. We use the SGA 
threshold amounts in order to measure whether the beneficiary's gross 
earnings level meets the milestone objective.
    (g) Transition case is a case where milestones or outcomes had been 
attained before July 21, 2008 (that is, the work required to meet such 
a milestone or outcome had been completed by that date). Section 
411.551 explains how subsequent payments will be made to the EN (or 
State VR agency acting as an EN) on a transition case.
    (h) Reconciliation payment is a final payment equal to the 
milestone payments that are unpaid when the beneficiary enters the 
outcome payment period before all the milestone payments are paid (see 
Sec. Sec.  411.525(c) and 411.536).

0
42. Revise Sec.  411.505 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.505  How is an EN paid?

    An EN (including a State VR agency acting as an EN) can elect to be 
paid under either the outcome payment system or the outcome-milestone 
payment system. The EN will elect a payment system at the time the EN 
enters into an agreement with us. (For State VR agencies, see Sec.  
411.365.) The EN (or State VR agency) may periodically change its 
elected EN payment system as described in Sec.  411.515.

0
43. In Sec.  411.510, revise paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.510  How is the State VR agency paid under the Ticket to Work 
program?

* * * * *
    (c) If a beneficiary who is receiving services from the State VR 
agency under an existing IPE becomes eligible for a ticket that is 
available for assignment, the State VR agency is limited to the cost 
reimbursement payment system, unless both the beneficiary and the State 
VR agency agree to have the ticket assigned to the State VR agency (see 
Sec.  411.390).

0
44. In Sec.  411.515, revise paragraph (b) and remove paragraph (c) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  411.515  Can the EN change its elected payment system?

* * * * *
    (b) After an EN (or a State VR agency) first elects an EN payment 
system, the EN (or State VR agency) can choose to make one change in 
its elected payment system in each calendar year (January-December) 
thereafter. The first EN payment system election constitutes the only 
election an EN may make for that calendar year.

0
45. In Sec.  411.525, revise the section heading, paragraphs (a)(1)(i), 
(a)(2), (b) and (c), and add paragraphs (d) and (e), to read as 
follows:


Sec.  411.525  What payments are available under each of the EN payment 
systems?

    (a) * * *
    (1)(i) Under the outcome payment system, we can pay up to 36 
outcome payments to the EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) for a 
title II disability beneficiary (including a concurrent title II/title 
XVI disability beneficiary). We can pay up to 60 outcome payments to 
the EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) for a title XVI disability 
beneficiary who is not concurrently a title II disability beneficiary. 
For each month during the beneficiary's outcome payment period for 
which Social Security disability benefits and Federal SSI cash benefits 
are not payable to the beneficiary because of the performance of SGA or 
by reason of earnings from work activity, the EN (or the State VR 
agency acting as an EN) is eligible for a monthly outcome payment. 
Payment for an outcome payment month under the outcome payment system 
is equal to 67% of the payment calculation base for the calendar year 
in which such month occurs, rounded to the nearest whole dollar (see 
Sec.  411.550).
* * * * *
    (2) Under the outcome-milestone payment system:
    (i) We can pay the EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) for up 
to four Phase 1 milestones attained within the required earnings period 
for a title II or title XVI disability beneficiary who has assigned his 
or her ticket to the EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN). The first 
Phase 1 milestone is met when a beneficiary has worked in a month and 
earned at least 50% of the amount of earnings considered to represent a 
trial work period service month as defined in Sec.  404.1592(b) of this 
chapter. The second Phase 1 milestone is met after a beneficiary has 
worked for three months within a six-month period and has gross 
earnings in each of those three months equal to or greater than a trial 
work period service amount as defined in Sec.  404.1592(b) of this 
chapter. The third Phase 1 milestone is met after a beneficiary has 
worked for a total of six months within a twelve-month period and had 
gross earnings in each of those six months equal to a trial work period 
service amount as defined in Sec.  404.1592(b) of this chapter. The 
fourth Phase 1 milestone is met after a beneficiary has worked a total 
of nine months within an 18-month period and had gross earnings in each 
of those nine months equal to a trial work period service amount as 
defined in Sec.  404.1592(b) of this chapter and the EN has 
substantially completed the services agreed to in the IWP/IPE, 
including any amendments. Earnings used to meet the first, second or 
third Phase 1 milestone may be counted again when determining if a 
later Phase 1 milestone is met, provided the earlier earnings fall 
within the relevant time period for meeting the later milestone.
    (ii) We can also pay the EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) up 
to eleven Phase 2 milestones achieved by a title II disability 
beneficiary (including a concurrent title II/title XVI disability 
beneficiary) or up to eighteen Phase 2 milestones achieved by a title 
XVI disability beneficiary (who is not concurrently a title II 
disability beneficiary) who has assigned his or her ticket to the EN 
(or State VR agency acting as an EN). A Phase 2 milestone is met for 
each calendar month in which the beneficiary has worked and has gross 
earnings from employment (or net earnings from self-employment as 
defined in Sec.  404.1080 of this chapter) in that month that are more 
than the SGA

[[Page 29347]]

threshold amount as defined in Sec.  404.1574 of this chapter.
    (iii) We pay available milestone payments in sequence except when 
the beneficiary's outcome period begins before the beneficiary has 
achieved all Phase 1 and Phase 2 milestones. Example: The individual, 
in the first month of employment after assigning the ticket, earns 
above the SGA level. Despite having exceeded trial work period level 
earnings and earned above the SGA level as required for Phase 2 
payments in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section, based on the 
individual's earning we would pay the EN the sequentially available 
milestone, which in this case would be Phase 1, milestone 1.
    (iv) In addition to the milestone payments, monthly outcome 
payments can be paid to the EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) 
during the outcome payment period.
    (b) The outcome-milestone payment system is designed so that the 
total payments to the EN (or the State VR agency acting as an EN) for a 
beneficiary are less than the total amount that would have been paid if 
the EN were paid under the outcome payment system. Under the outcome-
milestone payment system, the total payment to the EN (or the State VR 
agency acting as an EN) is about 90% of the total that would have been 
potentially payable under the outcome payment system for the same 
beneficiary.
    (c) Except as provided in Sec.  411.536 (reconciliation payments) 
the milestones for which payments may be made must occur prior to the 
beginning of the beneficiary's outcome payment period.
    (d) We will pay an EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) to which 
the beneficiary has assigned a ticket for milestones or outcomes 
achieved only in months prior to the month in which the ticket 
terminates (see Sec.  411.155). We will not pay a milestone or outcome 
payment to an EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) based on a 
beneficiary's work or earnings activity in or after the month in which 
the ticket terminates.
    (e) If a title XVI disability beneficiary becomes entitled to title 
II benefits after we authorize the first milestone or outcome payment, 
we will continue to calculate the EN payments using title XVI payment 
calculation base under the outcome payment system on the basis of 
paragraph (a)(1)(i) and under the outcome-milestone payment system on 
the basis of paragraph (a)(2). This applies even if the title XVI 
eligibility is subsequently terminated and the person becomes only a 
title II beneficiary.


Sec.  411.530  [Removed]

0
46. Remove Sec.  411.530.

0
47. In Sec.  411.535, revise the section heading and paragraph (a) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  411.535  Under what circumstances will milestones be paid?

    (a)(1)(i) Under the outcome-milestone payment system, an EN (or a 
State VR agency acting as an EN) can earn up to four Phase 1 milestone 
payments for serving beneficiaries whose gross earnings were less than 
the trial work level in each of the 18 months before the ticket was 
first assigned to an EN. All work and earnings counted toward reaching 
the four Phase 1 milestones must occur after the ticket is assigned and 
before the beginning of the beneficiary's outcome payment period (see 
Sec.  411.500(f)) except as provided in Sec.  411.536 (reconciliation 
payments).
    (ii) Significant work activity prior to ticket assignment will 
limit the availability of Phase 1 milestone payments. The PM will make 
this assessment of work activity prior to the first ticket assignment 
on each ticket, irrespective of the EN's chosen payment system, in 
order to determine how many milestone payments may be available for 
serving an individual in the Ticket to Work program. The first Phase 1 
milestone payment is not available to be made to an EN if the 
beneficiary has worked above the trial work level in the calendar month 
prior to the first ticket assignment on each ticket in the Ticket to 
Work program. The second Phase 1 milestone payment is not available if 
the beneficiary has worked above the trial work level in three of the 
six months prior to the first ticket assignment on each ticket in the 
Ticket to Work program. The third Phase 1 milestone is not available if 
the beneficiary has worked above the trial work level in six of the 
twelve months prior to the first ticket assignment on each ticket in 
the Ticket to Work program. The fourth Phase 1 milestone is not 
available if the beneficiary has worked above the trial work level in 
nine of the 18 months prior to the first ticket assignment on each 
ticket in the Ticket to Work program.
    (iii) If a beneficiary had a ticket that otherwise was available 
for assignment and chose to receive services under an IPE from a State 
VR agency that elected the VR cost reimbursement option, payment of 
Phase 1 milestones to an EN or a different VR agency acting as an EN 
with respect to the same ticket is precluded if the State VR Agency 
that elected the VR cost reimbursement option achieved an employment 
outcome (as described in 34 CFR 361.56) before case closure. An EN or a 
different VR agency acting as an EN can be paid Phase 2 milestones as 
described in paragraph (2) of this section with respect to this ticket.
    (2) Under the outcome-milestone payment system, an EN can receive 
up to eleven Phase 2 milestone payments for work by a title II 
disability beneficiary (including a concurrent title II/title XVI 
disability beneficiary), or up to eighteen Phase 2 milestone payments 
for work by a title XVI disability beneficiary. Earnings prior to the 
first assignment of the ticket in the Ticket to Work program are not 
taken into account when determining whether sufficient earnings exist 
for payment of Phase 2 milestones.
    (3) If the beneficiary's outcome payment period begins before the 
beneficiary has achieved all Phase 1 and Phase 2 milestones, then we 
will pay the EN a final payment in accordance with Sec.  411.536 
(reconciliation payments) to account for unpaid milestone payments that 
had been available when the ticket was first assigned.
* * * * *

0
48. Add Sec.  411.536 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.536  Under what circumstances can we make a reconciliation 
payment under the outcome-milestone payment system?

    When the beneficiary's outcome payment period begins before the 
beneficiary has attained all Phase 1 and Phase 2 milestones, we will 
pay the EN (or a State VR agency acting as an EN) a reconciliation 
payment. The reconciliation payment will equal the total amount of the 
milestone payments that were available with respect to that ticket, 
when the ticket was first assigned, but that have not yet been paid. 
The reconciliation payment will be based on the payment calculation 
base for the calendar year in which the first month of the 
beneficiary's outcome period occurs, rounded to the nearest whole 
dollar. The payment will be made after an EN has qualified for 12 
outcome payments. Where multiple ENs had the ticket assigned at some 
time, the PM will apply the rule under Sec.  411.560 to determine the 
allocation of the reconciliation payment.

0
49. Revise Sec.  411.540 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.540  How are the payment amounts calculated for each of the 
milestones?

    (a) For both title II disability beneficiaries and title XVI 
disability beneficiaries, the payment amount for each of the Phase 1 
milestone payments is equal to 120% of the payment

[[Page 29348]]

calculation base for title II (as defined in Sec.  411.500(a)(1)) for 
the calendar year in which the month of attainment of the milestone 
occurs, rounded to the nearest whole dollar.
    (b) The payment amount for each of the Phase 2 milestones:
    (1) For title II disability beneficiaries (including concurrent 
title II/title XVI disability beneficiaries) is equal to 36% of the 
payment calculation base as defined in Sec.  411.500(a)(1) for the 
calendar year in which the month of attainment of the milestone occurs, 
rounded to the nearest whole dollar;
    (2) For title XVI beneficiaries (who are not concurrently title II 
disability beneficiaries) is equal to 36% of the payment calculation 
base as defined in Sec.  411.500(a)(2) for the calendar year in which 
the month of attainment of the milestone occurs, rounded to the nearest 
whole dollar.

0
50. Revise Sec.  411.545 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.545  How are the outcome payments calculated under the 
outcome-milestone payment system?

    The amount of each monthly outcome payment under the outcome-
milestone payment system is calculated as follows:
    (a) For title II disability beneficiaries (including concurrent 
title II/title XVI disability beneficiaries), an outcome payment is 
equal to 36 percent of the payment calculation base as defined in Sec.  
411.500(a)(1) for the calendar year in which the month occurs, rounded 
to the nearest whole dollar;
    (b) For title XVI disability beneficiaries (who are not 
concurrently title II/title XVI disability beneficiaries), an outcome 
payment is equal to 36% of the payment calculation base as defined in 
Sec.  411.500(a)(2) for the calendar year in which the month occurs, 
rounded to the nearest whole dollar.
    (c) The following chart provides an example of how an EN could 
receive milestone and outcome payments:

                                         Outcome-Milestone Payment Table
                                  Chart I--New Outcome-Milestone Payment Table
                                      [2008 figures for illustration only]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     Beneficiary
          Payment type                earnings         Title II amount of payment    Title XVI amount of payment
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Phase 1 (120% of Title II PCB)
    Milestone 1................  $335/mo. $670/mo.   $1,177.......................  $1,177
                                  x 3 mo. work in a
                                  6-month period.
    Milestone 2................  ..................  $1,177.......................  $1,177
    Milestone 3................  $670/mo. x 6 mo.    $1,177.......................  $1,177
                                  work in a 12-
                                  month period.
    Milestone 4................  $670/mo. x 9 mo.    $1,177.......................  $1,177
                                  work in an 18-
                                  month period.
��������������������������������
        Total Phase 1            ..................  $4,708.......................  $4,708
         milestones.
��������������������������������
Phase 2 (36% of PCB)...........  Gross Earnings>SGA
Title II milestones 1-11.......  ..................  $353 x 11=$3,883
Title XVI milestones 1-18......  ..................  .............................  $203 x 18 = $3,654
��������������������������������
    Total Phase 1 + 2..........  ..................  $8,591.......................  $8,362
��������������������������������
                                 Outcome payments
                                  (36% of PCB).
    Title II = 1-36............  Monthly cash        $353 x 36 = $12,708
                                  benefit not
                                  payable due to
                                  SGA.
    Title XVI = 1-60...........  Sufficient          203 x 60 = $12,180...........
                                  earnings for
                                  federal cash
                                  benefits = ``0''.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total milestone and      ..................  $21,299......................  $20,542
         outcome payments.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Definitions and amounts: Payment Calculation Base (PCB)--The 
average title II disability insurance benefit payable under section 223 
of the Social Security Act for all beneficiaries for months during the 
preceding calendar year; and the average payment of supplemental 
security income benefits based on disability payable under title XVI 
(excluding State supplementation) for months during the preceding 
calendar year to all beneficiaries who have attained 18 years of age 
but have not attained 65 years of age. (2008 title II = $981.17, title 
XVI = $563.35).
    Gross earnings requirements for Phase 1 are based on Trial Work 
level amounts.
    For Phase 1 milestones only, the payments are calculated for both 
title XVI and title II beneficiaries using the higher title II payment 
calculation base. All other payments are based on a percentage of the 
Payment Calculation Base (PCB) for the respective program (title XVI or 
title II). See Sec.  411.535 for a discussion of the circumstances 
under which we will pay milestones.
    Phase 1 milestones = 120% of PCB.
    Phase 2 milestones = 36% of PCB.
    Outcome payments (under the outcome-milestone payment system) = 36% 
of PCB Earnings used to meet the first, second, or third Phase 1 
milestone may be counted again when determining if a later milestone is 
met, provided the earlier earnings fall within the relevant time period 
for meeting the later Phase 1 milestone (see 411.525(a)(2) for the 
relevant time period for each milestone).

0
51. Revise Sec.  411.550 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.550  How are the outcome payments calculated under the 
outcome payment system?

    The amount of each monthly outcome payment under the outcome 
payment system is calculated as follows:
    (1) For title II disability beneficiaries (including concurrent 
title II/title XVI disability beneficiaries), an outcome payment is 
equal to 67% of the payment calculation base as defined in Sec.  
411.500(a)(1) for the calendar year in which the month occurs, rounded 
to the nearest whole dollar;
    (2) For title XVI disability beneficiaries (who are not 
concurrently title II/title XVI disability beneficiaries), an outcome 
payment is equal to 67% of the payment calculation base as defined

[[Page 29349]]

in Sec.  411.500(a)(2) for the calendar year in which the month occurs, 
rounded to the nearest whole dollar.

                      Chart II.--New Outcome Payment System Table--Title II and Concurrent
                                      [2008 figures for illustration only]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                Title II amount   Title II total
                 Payment type                        Beneficiary earnings          of monthly        outcome
                                                                                outcome payment      payments
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Outcome payments 1-36 (67% of PCB)...........  Monthly cash benefit not                $657.00          $23,652
                                                payable due to SGA.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                          Chart III.--New Outcome Payment System Table--Title XVI Only
                                      [2008 figures for illustration only]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                   Title XVI
                                                                                   amount of     Title XVI total
                 Payment type                        Beneficiary earnings       monthly outcome      outcome
                                                                                    payment          payments
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Outcome payments 1-60 (67% of PCB)...........  Earnings sufficient to ``0''            $377.00          $22,620
                                                out Federal SSI cash benefits.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Note: Outcome payment (outcome payment system) = 67% of PCB 
Individual payments are rounded to the nearest dollar amount.
    2008 non-blind SGA level = $940.
    2008 Blind SGA = $1570.
    2008 TWP service amount = $670.


0
52. Add Sec.  411.551 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.551  How are EN payments calculated for transition cases 
pending on July 21, 2008?

    A Transition case is a case where a ticket had been assigned and 
milestones or outcomes had been attained as of June 30, 2008 (that is, 
the individual has completed the necessary work to trigger a milestone 
or outcome payment before July 21, 2008 regardless of whether the 
payment has actually been made). We will pay outcome and milestone 
payments at the rate in effect when the work leading to such outcome or 
milestone is attained. Since milestone and outcome payments are 
numbered and attained in sequence, the EN must request the final 
payment for which it expects payment under the prior rules before we 
can determine the number of the milestone or outcome payment that 
represents the first payment after July 21, 2008. In addition, for 
cases on which an EN has attained an outcome payment before July 21, 
2008 we must know the sum of the amount paid on the ticket before we 
can determine the remaining amount that can be paid in outcome payments 
on the ticket. Therefore, with respect to a ticket, we will only accept 
payment requests for milestones or outcomes attained under the prior 
rules until March 31, 2009 or until we make the first payment on the 
ticket under Sec.  411.525. Payments to an EN (or State VR agency 
acting as an EN) after July 21, 2008 on a transition case will be made 
as follows:
    (a) The four milestones under the prior rules will be equated with 
the four Phase 1 milestones available under the rules after July 21, 
2008. For example, if a beneficiary had attained milestone 1 under our 
prior rules (1 month above the gross SGA level, e.g., $940 in 2008), 
then the next milestone to be achieved would be Phase 1 milestone 2 
under these rules (work in three months with gross earnings in each of 
these months equal to a trial work period service month, e.g., $670 in 
2008).
    (b) If the beneficiary had attained all four of the milestones 
under the prior rules, the next milestone to be achieved would be the 
first Phase 2 milestone (a calendar month in which the beneficiary has 
worked and has gross earnings from employment or net earnings from 
self-employment that are more than the substantial gainful activity 
threshold level, e.g., $900 in 2007).
    (c) The maximum number of outcome payments available to an EN with 
respect to a ticket for a transition case will be computed as follows:
    (1) First, we will compute the total dollar amount already paid or 
payable with respect to a ticket, including all outcome and milestone 
payments.
    (2) Then, we will subtract the total dollar amount already paid 
from the total value of the ticket under the new rules for the year 
when these rules take effect. The total value of the ticket will be 
calculated based on the elected payment system for the beneficiary, 
i.e., the outcome or the outcome-milestone payment system, and on the 
appropriate payment calculation base for either a title II disability 
beneficiary (including a concurrent title II and title XVI disability) 
or a title XVI disability beneficiary (see Sec. Sec.  411.500 and 
411.505). For accounting purposes, we will use the payment calculation 
base for 2008 and assume that all payments could be earned in that year 
in calculating the total value of the ticket.
    (3) We then will divide this amount by the applicable outcome 
payment amount (whether title II or title XVI) payable for 2008 and 
round the result in accordance with customary rounding principles. The 
resulting number represents the number of outcome payments available to 
be paid with respect to the ticket. In no case can this number exceed 
60.

0
53. Add Sec.  411.552 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.552  What effect will the subsequent entitlement to title II 
benefits have on EN payments for title XVI beneficiaries after they 
assign their ticket?

    If a beneficiary is only eligible for title XVI benefits when we 
authorize the first milestone or outcome for which an EN can be paid, 
but the beneficiary later becomes entitled to title II benefits, we 
will continue to make payments as though the beneficiary were only a 
title XVI beneficiary, up to the maximum number of milestone and 
outcome payments payable for that ticket for title XVI beneficiaries. 
If a beneficiary who is eligible for title XVI disability benefits 
becomes entitled to title II disability benefits before we authorize 
the first milestone or outcome payment, we will make payments to the EN 
pursuant to the rate, payment calculation base and number of payments 
available for title II beneficiaries, as described in this subpart.

0
54. Revise Sec.  411.555 to read as follows:

[[Page 29350]]

Sec.  411.555  Can the EN keep the milestone and outcome payments even 
if the beneficiary does not achieve all outcome months?

    (a) Yes. The EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) can keep each 
milestone and outcome payment for which the EN (or State VR agency 
acting as an EN) is eligible, even though the title II beneficiary does 
not achieve all 36 outcome months or the title XVI beneficiary does not 
achieve all 60 outcome months.
    (b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, payments 
which we make or deny to an EN (or a State VR agency acting as an EN) 
may be subject to adjustment (including recovery, as appropriate) if we 
determine that more or less than the correct amount was paid. This may 
happen, for example, because we determine that the payment 
determination was in error or because of an allocation of payment under 
Sec.  411.560.
    (c) If we determine that an overpayment or underpayment to an EN 
has occurred, we will notify the EN (or State VR agency acting as an 
EN) of the adjustment. We will not seek an adjustment if a 
determination or decision about a beneficiary's right to benefits 
causes an overpayment to the EN. Any dispute which the EN (or State VR 
agency) has regarding the adjustment may be resolved under the rules in 
Sec.  411.590(a) and (b).

0
55. Revise Sec.  411.560 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.560  Is it possible to pay a milestone or outcome payment to 
more than one EN?

    It is possible for more than one EN (including a State VR agency 
acting as an EN) to receive payment based on the same milestone or 
outcome. If the beneficiary has assigned the ticket to more than one EN 
(or State VR agency acting as an EN) at different times, and more than 
one EN (or State VR agency) requests payment for the same milestone, 
outcome or reconciliation payment under its elected payment system, the 
PM will make a determination of the allocation of payment to each EN 
(or State VR agency acting as an EN). The PM will make this 
determination based upon the contribution of the services provided by 
each EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) toward the achievement of 
the outcomes or milestones. Outcome and milestone payments will not be 
increased because the payments are shared between two or more ENs 
(including a State VR agency acting as an EN).

0
56. Revise Sec.  411.565 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.565  What happens if two or more ENs qualify for payment on 
the same ticket but have elected different EN payment systems?

    We will pay each EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) according 
to its elected EN payment system in effect at the time the beneficiary 
assigned the ticket to the EN (or the State VR agency acting as an EN).

0
57. Add Sec.  411.566 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.566  May an EN use outcome or milestone payments to make 
payments to the beneficiary?

    Yes, an EN may use milestone or outcome payments to make payments 
to a beneficiary.

0
58. In Sec.  411.575, revise the introductory text; paragraph (a)(1) 
introductory text; and paragraphs (a)(1)(i), (a)(2), (b)(1) 
introductory text, (b)(1)(ii), and (b)(2); and add paragraph (c) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  411.575  How does the EN request payment for milestone or outcome 
payment months achieved by a beneficiary who assigned a ticket to the 
EN?

    The EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) will send its request 
for payment, evidence of the beneficiary's work or earnings, and other 
information to the PM. In addition, we or the PM may require a summary 
of the services provided as described in the IWP/IPE.
    (a) Milestone payments. (1) We will pay the EN (or State VR agency 
acting as an EN) for milestones only if--
    (i) The outcome-milestone payment system was the EN's (or State VR 
agency's) elected payment system in effect at the time the beneficiary 
assigned a ticket to the EN (or the State VR agency acting as an EN);
* * * * *
    (2) The EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) must request 
payment for each milestone attained by a beneficiary who has assigned a 
ticket to the EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN). The request must 
include evidence that the milestone was attained after ticket 
assignment and other information as we may require to evaluate the EN's 
(or State VR agency's) request. If the EN is requesting payment for 
months after the ticket is no longer assigned to it, the payment 
request shall include evidence that the services agreed to in the IWP/
IPE were provided and those services contributed to the employment 
milestones or outcomes that the beneficiary attained in months after 
the ticket had been assigned to the EN. We do not have to stop monthly 
benefit payments to the beneficiary before we can pay the EN (or State 
VR agency acting as an EN) for milestones attained by the beneficiary.
    (b) Outcome payments. (1) We will pay an EN (or State VR agency 
acting as an EN) an outcome payment for a month if--
* * * * *
    (ii) We have not already paid for 36 outcome payment months for a 
title II disability beneficiary (or a concurrent title II/title XVI 
disability beneficiary), or paid for 60 outcome payment months for a 
title XVI disability beneficiary who is not concurrently a title II 
disability beneficiary, on the same ticket; and
* * * * *
    (2) The EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) must request 
payment for outcome payment months. In its initial request, the EN (or 
State VR agency acting as an EN) must submit evidence of the 
beneficiary's work or earnings (e.g., a statement of monthly earnings 
from the employer or the employer's designated payroll preparer, or an 
unaltered copy of the beneficiary's pay stub). After we have started 
paying outcome payments to an EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) 
based on evidence of the beneficiary's earnings, the EN (or State VR 
agency) must provide documentation of the beneficiary's continued work 
or earnings in such a manner or form and at such time or times as we 
may require. Exception: If the EN (or State VR agency) does not 
currently hold the ticket because it is assigned to another EN (or 
State VR agency), the EN (or State VR agency) must request payment, but 
is not required to submit evidence of the beneficiary's work or 
earnings. However, if the payment request is for work the beneficiary 
attained in a month in which the EN no longer held the ticket, the 
payment request should include evidence that the services agreed to in 
the IWP/IPE were provided and those services contributed to the 
beneficiary's work.
    (c) Evidence requirements for payment. As primary evidence, we 
require original pay slips, or oral or written statements from an 
employer or the employer's designated payroll preparer. In lieu of 
primary evidence, we accept two sources of secondary evidence, such as 
photocopies of pay slips, a signed beneficiary statement, State 
unemployment records or federal/state tax returns. The evidence must be 
clear and legible and include the beneficiary's name, gross earnings or 
net earnings from self employment, pay date and pay period of wages or 
monthly net earnings of self-employment earnings.

[[Page 29351]]


0
59. Revise Sec.  411.580 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.580  Can an EN receive payments for milestones or outcome 
payment months that occur before the beneficiary assigns a ticket to 
the EN?

    No. An EN (or State VR agency acting as an EN) may be paid only for 
milestones or outcome payment months that are achieved after the month 
in which the ticket is assigned to the EN or State VR agency acting as 
an EN (except as provided for in Sec.  411.536).

0
60. Add a new Sec.  411.581 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.581  Can an EN receive milestone and outcome payments for 
months after a beneficiary takes his or her ticket out of assignment?

    Yes. If an individual whose ticket is assigned to an EN (or State 
VR agency acting as an EN) takes his or her ticket out of assignment 
(see Sec.  411.145), the EN (or State VR agency) can receive payments 
under its elected payment system for milestones or outcome payment 
months that occur after the ticket is taken out of assignment, provided 
the ticket has not terminated for any of the reasons listed in Sec.  
411.155. The PM will make a determination about eligibility for a 
payment based upon the contribution of services provided by an EN 
toward the achievement of the outcome or milestones. See Sec.  411.560 
for situations in which payment may be made to more than one EN or 
State VR agency based on the same milestone or outcome.

0
61. Add a new Sec.  411.582 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.582  Can a State VR agency receive payment under the cost 
reimbursement payment system if a continuous 9-month period of 
substantial gainful activity is completed after the ticket is assigned 
to an EN?

    Yes. If a State VR agency provides services to a beneficiary under 
34 CFR part 361, and elects payment under the cost reimbursement 
payment system under subpart V of part 404 (or subpart V of part 416) 
of this chapter, the State VR agency can receive payment under the cost 
reimbursement payment system for services provided to the beneficiary 
if all the requirements under subpart V of part 404 (or subpart V of 
part 416) of this chapter and Sec.  411.585 are met even when these 
requirements are met after the ticket has been assigned to the EN. The 
EN can be paid during this period in accordance with Sec. Sec.  411.525 
and Sec. Sec.  411.535.

0
62. Revise Sec.  411.585 to read as follows:


Sec.  411.585  Can a State VR agency and an EN both receive payment for 
serving the same beneficiary?

    Yes. A State VR agency and an EN can both receive payment for 
serving the same beneficiary, but the ticket can only be assigned to 
one EN, including a State VR agency acting as an EN, at a time. It also 
cannot be assigned to an EN and placed in the VR cost reimbursement 
status at the same time.
    (a) A State VR agency may act as an EN and serve a beneficiary. In 
this case, both the State VR agency acting as an EN and another EN may 
be eligible for payment based on the same ticket (see Sec.  411.560).
    (b) If a State VR agency is paid by us under the VR cost 
reimbursement option, such payment does not preclude payment by us to 
an EN or to another State VR agency acting as an EN under its elected 
EN payment system. A subsequent VR agency also may choose to be paid 
under the VR cost reimbursement option.
    (c) If an EN or a State VR agency acting as an EN is paid by us 
under one of the EN payment systems, that does not preclude payment by 
us to a different State VR agency under the VR cost reimbursement 
option. The subsequent State VR agency also may choose to be paid under 
its elected EN payment system.


Sec.  411.587  [Removed]

0
63. Remove Sec.  411.587.

0
64. In Sec.  411.590, revise paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  411.590  What can an EN do if the EN disagrees with our decision 
on a payment request?

* * * * *
    (d) Determinations or decisions we make about a beneficiary's right 
to benefits may cause payments we have already made to an EN (or denial 
of payment to an EN) to be incorrect, resulting in an underpayment or 
overpayment to the EN. If this happens, we will make any necessary 
adjustments to future payments (see Sec.  411.555). See Sec.  
411.555(c) for when we will not make an adjustment in a case in which 
an overpayment results from a determination or decision we make about a 
beneficiary's right to benefits.) While an EN cannot appeal our 
determination about an individual's right to benefits, the EN may 
furnish any evidence the EN has which relates to the issue(s) to be 
decided on appeal if the individual appeals our determination.
[FR Doc. E8-10879 Filed 5-19-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4191-02-P