[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 8 (Thursday, January 12, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 1862-1864]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-405]



[[Page 1862]]

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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

20 CFR Part 411

[Docket No. SSA-2011-0034]
RIN 0960-AH34


Mailing of Tickets Under the Ticket to Work Program

AGENCY: Social Security Administration.

ACTION: Interim final rule with request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Social Security Act (Act) states that we may issue a 
Ticket to Work (Ticket) to disabled beneficiaries for participation in 
the Ticket to Work program (Ticket program). Under our current rules, 
however, we mail initial Ticket notices to all Ticket-eligible 
beneficiaries, regardless of whether they are likely to participate in 
the program, immediately after they begin receiving benefits. We are 
modifying our rules so that we may send a Ticket to eligible disabled 
beneficiaries. We will inform all newly eligible and current 
beneficiaries of the availability of the program via routine 
correspondence. In addition, we will conduct Ticket outreach to those 
disabled beneficiaries who are most likely to return to work. We will 
send a Ticket to any eligible disabled beneficiary upon request, 
regardless of whether we have identified the beneficiary through our 
outreach efforts. We expect this change will make the Ticket program 
more effective. This change does not affect Ticket eligibility 
requirements.

DATES: This interim final rule is effective January 12, 2012.
    Comment Date: To ensure that your comments are considered, we must 
receive them no later than March 12, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any one of three methods--
Internet, fax, or mail. Do not submit the same comments multiple times 
or by more than one method. Regardless of which method you choose, 
please state that your comments refer to Docket No. SSA-2011-0034 so 
that we may associate your comments with the correct regulation.
    Caution: You should be careful to include in your comments only 
information that you wish to make publicly available. We strongly urge 
you not to include in your comments any personal information, such as 
Social Security numbers or medical information.
    1. Internet: We strongly recommend that you submit your comments 
via the Internet. Please visit the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Use the Search function to find docket number 
SSA-2011-0034. The system will issue a tracking number to confirm your 
submission. You will not be able to view your comment immediately 
because we must post each comment manually. It may take up to a week 
for your comment to be viewable.
    2. Fax: Fax comments to (410) 966-2830.
    3. Mail: Mail your comments to the Office of Regulations, Social 
Security Administration, 107 Altmeyer Building, 6401 Security 
Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401.
    Comments are available for public viewing on the Federal 
eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov or in person, during 
regular business hours, by arranging with the contact person identified 
below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Desiree Fitzgerald, Office of 
Retirement and Disability Policy, Office of Employment Support 
Programs, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, 
Baltimore, MD 21235-6401, (410) 965-7456. 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, at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Ticket program has expanded the universe 
of service providers available to individuals who are entitled to 
Social Security benefits based on disability or Supplemental Security 
Income (SSI) benefits based on disability or blindness. Congress 
established the Ticket program in the Ticket to Work and Work 
Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 to provide disability beneficiaries 
a choice in obtaining the services and technology that they need in 
order to find, secure, and maintain employment.\1\ Congress explicitly 
recognized that, while many people who receive disability benefits want 
to work and may have the potential to work, they face a number of 
significant barriers that may prevent them from doing so.\2\ 
Additionally, Congress recognized that the savings to the Social 
Security Trust Funds and to the Treasury would be significant even if 
only a small percentage of current Social Security disability 
beneficiaries and SSI recipients were to cease receiving benefits as a 
result of employment.\3\
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    \1\ Public Law 106-170.
    \2\ Sec. 2(a), Public Law 106-170.
    \3\ Sec. 2(a)(12), Public Law 106-170.
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    Under the Ticket program, we may issue Tickets to eligible Social 
Security disability beneficiaries and disabled or blind SSI recipients. 
The Ticket program provides these beneficiaries with a Ticket that they 
may use to obtain vocational rehabilitation services, employment 
services, and other support services from an employment network or from 
a State vocational rehabilitation agency. This support allows these 
individuals to enter into and retain employment and reduces dependency 
on Social Security and SSI cash benefits.
    Although not required by the Act, our current rules state that we 
will mail Tickets to all Ticket-eligible beneficiaries.\4\ We currently 
mail Tickets shortly after we award a disability or blindness-related 
benefit, regardless of the beneficiary's likelihood to participate in 
the program immediately after they begin receiving benefits.
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    \4\ Section 1148(b)(1) of the Act states that ``the Commissioner 
may issue a ticket to disabled beneficiaries for participation in 
the Program;'' 20 CFR 411.130.
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    As of October 1, 2011, we issued about 12.5 million active Tickets 
to eligible beneficiaries since revising our Ticket to Work regulations 
in 2008.\5\ However, of those 12.5 million Tickets, only 286,348 are 
assigned or in use.\6\ We expend significant financial and 
administrative resources to mail the Tickets as required by our current 
rules, over ninety-seven percent of which beneficiaries never use. We 
will save about one million dollars each year in print and mail costs 
by informing newly eligible disabled beneficiaries about their 
eligibility for the Ticket program in their award letters instead of 
sending a separate piece of mail containing a ticket.
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    \5\ 41st Month Report: Impact of Regulatory Changes (5/1/08-10/
1/11). Available at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/work/enpayments_stats.html.
    \6\ Id.
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    Participation rates in the Ticket program vary with the 
characteristics of eligible beneficiaries.\7\ A recent Ticket to Work 
program study, conducted by an outside research firm, assessed which 
characteristics are most predictive of Ticket assignment among new 
beneficiaries--the group to which we currently mail Tickets. According 
to the study, characteristics such as age and months since earliest 
disability onset are strong predictors of participation in the Ticket 
program.\8\
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    \7\ See Stapleton, David, et al., Ticket to Work at the 
Crossroads: A Solid Foundation with an Uncertain Future 30 
(September, 2008). Available at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch/ttw4/TTW_Rpt4_508_vol1r.pdf.
    \8\ Altshuler, Norma, et al., Provider Experiences Under the 
Revised Ticket to Work Regulations (September, 2011). Available at: 
http://opdr.ssahost.ba.ssa.gov/documents/Provider%20Experience%20Under%20New%20TTW%20Regulations%20September%202011.pdf.

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[[Page 1863]]

    In our experience, it is unnecessary to mail Tickets to all 
beneficiaries, especially when they are not likely to participate in 
the program at that point in time. Because it is unlikely that some 
beneficiaries will need or be able to use a Ticket, we do not believe 
that it is the best use of our limited resources to continue mailing 
Tickets to every Ticket-eligible beneficiary. Instead, we will use more 
focused and cost-effective methods to publicize the Ticket program.
    We are modifying Sec.  411.130 so that we may send a Ticket to an 
eligible beneficiary. Removing the current requirement that we must 
send Tickets to all eligible beneficiaries, regardless of the 
likelihood that the beneficiary will ever use the Ticket, will allow us 
to better focus our limited resources on those beneficiaries who are 
most likely to return to work. We are also modifying Sec.  411.130 to 
make clear that Ticket-eligible beneficiaries may receive a Ticket upon 
request.
    We will inform newly eligible disabled beneficiaries about their 
eligibility for the Ticket program in their award letters instead of 
sending a separate piece of mail containing a Ticket. To request a 
Ticket and participate in the Ticket program, a beneficiary can contact 
the Ticket Call Center toll free at 1-(866) 968-7842 or TTY 1-(866) 
833-2967.
    We will remind current disabled beneficiaries of the availability 
of the program in their annual Cost of Living Adjustment notices and in 
other letters that they receive from us. We also expect to expand our 
current outreach efforts in the near future to increase awareness of 
the Ticket program by calling beneficiaries who are the ``most likely 
to return to work'' to tell them about the program. Information 
bulletins informing claimants and beneficiaries of the availability of 
employment support services, including the Ticket program, will also be 
available at our field offices.
    The changes we are making in these rules will also help make our 
rules more internally consistent. A ``Ticket'' is defined in our rules 
at Sec.  411.115 as ``a document described in Sec.  411.120 which the 
Commissioner may issue to disabled beneficiaries for participation in 
the Ticket to Work program.'' Since we recognize in Sec.  411.115 that 
we ``may issue'' Tickets to disabled beneficiaries, our revision to 
Sec.  411.130 will better reflect the definition of a Ticket in Sec.  
411.115. In addition, the change we are making here is consistent with 
the language of section 1148(b)(1) of the Act, which gives us 
discretion as to the form and manner in which Tickets may be 
distributed.\9\
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    \9\ Public Law 106-170.
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Clarity of This Rule

    Executive Order 12866, as supplemented by Executive Order 13563, 
requires each agency to write all rules in plain language. In addition 
to your substantive comments on this interim final rule, we invite your 
comments on how to make the rules easier to understand.
    For example:
     Would more, but shorter, sections be better?
     Are the requirements in the rule clearly stated?
     Have we organized the material to suit your needs?
     Could we improve clarity by adding tables, lists, or 
diagrams?
     What else could we do to make the rule easier to 
understand?
     Does the rule contain technical language or jargon that is 
not clear?
     Would a different format make the rule easier to 
understand, e.g. grouping and order of sections, use of headings, 
paragraphing?

When will we start to use this rule?

    We will start to use this rule on the effective date shown under 
DATES earlier in this preamble.
    We are also inviting public comment on the changes made by this 
interim final rule. We will consider any relevant comments we receive. 
We will publish a final rule to respond to those comments and to make 
any appropriate changes.

Regulatory Procedures

    We follow the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) rulemaking 
procedures specified in 5 USC 553 when we develop regulations. 
Generally, the APA requires that an agency provide prior notice and 
opportunity for public comment before issuing a final rule. The APA 
provides exceptions to its notice and public comment procedures when an 
agency finds good cause for dispensing with such procedures because 
they are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public 
interest.\10\
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    \10\ 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B).
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    We find that good cause exists for proceeding without prior public 
notice and comment in this instance. As discussed above, the change we 
are making in this interim final rule will make the Ticket program more 
effective by allowing us to target our limited resources available for 
Ticket outreach to those disabled beneficiaries who are more likely to 
return to work with the employment supports provided under the Ticket 
program. This change will allow us to better utilize our scarce 
administrative resources in light of the current budgetary constraints 
under which we are operating. Accordingly, we find that prior public 
comment would be contrary to the public interest in this instance. 
However, we are inviting public comment on the rule and will consider 
any relevant comments we receive within sixty days of its publication.
    In addition, for the reasons cited above, we also find good cause 
for dispensing with the thirty-day delay in the effective date of this 
rule.\11\ Since the change we are making to this rule will make the 
Ticket program more effective and allow us to better utilize our scarce 
administrative resources, we find that it is contrary to the public 
interest to delay the effective date of our rule. Accordingly, we are 
making this rule effective upon publication.
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    \11\ See 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).
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Executive Order 12866 as Supplemented by Executive Order 13563

    We consulted with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and 
determined that this interim final rule meets the criteria for a 
significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866, as 
supplemented by Executive Order 13563. Therefore, OMB reviewed it.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    We certify that this interim final rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because it 
only affects individuals. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis 
is not required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This interim final rule imposes no reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements subject to OMB clearance.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 96.001 Social 
Security Disability Insurance; 96.006 Supplemental Security Income; 
96.008)

List of Subjects in 20 CFR Part 411

    Administrative practice and procedure, Blind, Disability benefits, 
Public assistance programs, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Social

[[Page 1864]]

Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Vocational 
rehabilitation.

Michael J. Astrue,
Commissioner of Social Security.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we amend 20 CFR chapter 
III, part 411, subpart B as set forth below:

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

0
1. The authority citation for part 411 continues 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 B--[Amended]

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


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

    We may send you a ticket if you are eligible to receive one under 
Sec.  411.125. All Ticket-eligible beneficiaries may receive a Ticket 
upon request.

[FR Doc. 2012-405 Filed 1-11-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4191-02-P