Ex officio Representatives
Representing the Honorable John R. Vaughn, Chair of the Board, National Council on Disability
Stephen B. Hollingshead
Representing the Honorable Alphonso R. Jackson, Secretary, US Department of Housing and Urban Development
Representing the Honorable Margaret Spellings, Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
Mary Kay Mauren
Representing the Honorable Naomi C. Earp, Chair, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Representing the Honorable Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner, Social Security Administration
Representing the Honorable Michael Chertoff, Secretary, Homeland Security
Representing the Honorable David Eisner, Chief Executive Officer, Corporation for National and Community Services
Christopher Button and Sue Picerno
Representing the Honorable Elaine L. Chao, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor
Representing the Honorable Mary E. Peters, Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
Representing the Honorable Michael Mukasey, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
Dallas “Rob” Sweezy, PCPID Chairman
Ricardo Barraza, Jr.
Stephanie Preshong Brown
Sharman Word Dennis
Harris N. Hollin
Casey Patrick O’Halloran
Thomas J. Reilly
Steven C. Rhatigan
Office of Employment Support Programs
Social Security Administration
Acting Deputy Associate Commissioner
Office of Program Development and Research
Social Security Administration
Sally Atwater, Executive Director
Laverdia T. Roach
Dr. George Jesien, Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
Ken McGill, Social Security Administration (SSA)
Jessica Sadowsky, American Network on Community Options and Resources (ANCOR)
Minutes: Summary of Proceedings
The February 15, 2008 meeting of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID) convened via audio conference with the PCPID ex officio and citizen members, agenda presenters, invited guests, and PCPID staff named above indicating their presence.
Sally Atwater, PCPID Executive Director, welcomed meeting participants and announced the meeting objectives to: 1) focus on the PCPID 2008 Report to the President; 2) receive a briefing from the Social Security Administration (SSA); and 3) finalize the PCPID 2007 Report to the President. Ms. Atwater then turned the agenda over to PCPID Chairman, Dallas “Rob” Sweezy.
Chairman Sweezy called for, and received, approval of the minutes from the quarterly meeting convened December 15, 2007. Chairman Sweezy introduced Richard Balkus, PCPID ex officio representative from SSA and asked Mr. Balkus to introduce presenters Sue Suter and John Nelson. Mr. Balkus noted that Sue Suter, Associate Commissioner of the SSA Office of Employment Support Programs, would brief meeting participants on “Ticket to Work in 2008, a Re-launch;” and that John Nelson, Acting Deputy Associate Commissioner of the SSA Office of Program Development and Research, would provide a briefing on “Social Security Work Incentives.” Mr. Balkus noted the importance of this material because of the Committee’s plan to address this topic in the PCPID 2008 Report to the President.
Sue Suter, before beginning her presentation, announced that she was joined by Ken McGill, Program Manager for the Ticket to Work Program, who helps with marketing and outreach. She began by reviewing the history of the Ticket to Work Program, noting the following key points:
- The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act (TWWIIA), established by Congress in 1999, is a work incentive from Social Security to offer choice for beneficiaries who decide they want to try work, and who voluntarily participate in the program.
- Every beneficiary from age 18 to 65 receives a ticket whether he or she receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
- The Ticket to Work Program is outcome-based. Social Security pays employment networks to provide services in the local community when a beneficiary is earning a certain amount of money.
- Although current participation rates/numbers are not as great as SSA would like, the Administration listened and learned about concerns and issues and is making changes that will improve the program.
- Under new regulations, to be published in spring 2008, there is a more generous employment network (EN) payment plan. Also, under the new regulations, SSA has a partnership with vocational rehabilitation agencies.
Concluding her briefing, Ms. Suter noted, regarding the re-launching of the Ticket to Work Program, that SSA will develop more partnerships and mono business plans with organizations throughout America. She announced that the Social Security Administration is also planning a2008 Ticket Partners Summit.
Mr. Balkus thanked Ms. Suter for briefing Committee members on “Ticket to Work in 2008, a Re-launch” and asked then invited questions.
In response to questions, a discussion ensued regarding the Ticket to Work’s efficacy evaluation methods, used to make changes in the program as necessary, the availability of statistics on beneficiaries in and out of the ticket program, and how SSA plans to evaluate the operations of the ENs. They also discussed the processes built in to the ticket program for monitoring participants after they receive their ticket (including any formal follow-up). Ms. Suter then invited the Committee members to email her with any additional questions.
Mr. Balkus next presented John Nelson, who briefed the Committee members on “Social Security Work Incentives.” Mr. Nelson noted that he is responsible for SSA’s needs-based Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program, and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Program. Mr. Nelson summarized the following key points regarding these programs:
- In the SSI Program, there is an earned income exclusion, which is basically an income offset system.
- The key to the SSI system is the determination of a number that represents accountable earnings; not necessarily what the individual earned in a particular month, because exclusions are counted.
- Social Security offers a student earned income exclusion, which applies to students under 22 years old. There is also a “Plan to Achieve Self-Support” that allows an SSI beneficiary who has expenses but who wants to go back to work, and who also has other sources of income (SSDI, employment income, a pension, etc.), to go to school or set up their own business, or purchase a computer to set up a home office.
- SSI has a private program called “Medicaid While Working,” commonly referred to as 1619B. Individuals with a disabling condition who are employed and have reduced their SSI benefits to zero may remain on Medicaid as long as their income stays below a certain threshold (computed on a state-by-state basis).
Mr. Nelson concluded his briefing on “Social Security Work Incentives” and invited the Committee to ask questions.
Questions were raised regarding the Home and Community-based Services waiver at CMS, decentralization of cadres and caps on benefit overpayments due to backlogs at the regional level, but the presenters indicated that they were not in a position to comment on these issues.
Mr. Balkus requested that Mr. Nelson take a few minutes to mention work incentives for the Title 2 provisions for the SSDI program. Mr. Nelson stated that once an individual has been approved for the program and wants to go back to work, the structure of the work program is radically different from the SSI system. Mr. Nelson noted that there is a nine-month trial work period formulated to provide incentive to an individual to go back to work and there is also a Subsidy and Special Conditions provision that allows for on-the-job support (job coaching, assistance, extra breaks, etc.) that does not count against the beneficiary as earned income. Mr. Nelson further noted that the program provides for 93 months of extended Medicare benefits should the beneficiary continue to work after the trial period, expedited reinstatement of cash benefits should the beneficiary need to stop working or the employer goes out of business, and 301 Benefits that allow individuals to continue receiving benefits through the completion of a VR program.
Mr. Nelson noted that an individual can use or not use the Ticket to Work program, and still take advantage of work incentives, but individuals may also use the Ticket to Work program in conjunction with the work incentives. He also expressed the need to address the SSI “cash cliff” which places beneficiaries in an all or nothing situation. In response to a question from the Committee, Mr. Nelson also explained why unsuccessful work attempts are different for SSI and SSDI. He then invited the Committee to contact him via email with any further questions.
Chairman Sweezy thanked Sue Suter and John Nelson and then asked Laverdia Roach, Project Officer for the PCPID 2007 Report to the President, to give an update on the work of the staff to complete the report. Ms. Roach thanked the Committee members who responded to the staff’s request for suggested replies to the review comments from ACF and provided an update of the staff’s activities.
Ms. Roach informed meeting participants that staff carefully reviewed each of the comments, categorized them according to focus area, and shared review comments with appropriate authors and subcommittee chairs. In some instances, staff also requested suggested replies to the review comments from outside consultants (Jean Moody Williams, Jean Sheil, Cynthia Ruff, Ollie Cantos, Robert Flaak), who contributed to the original draft. Ms. Roach noted that upon receipt of suggested replies from Committee members and consultants, staff prepared and disseminated to the Committee and staff, a Summary of departmental review comments and Committee reply. Ms. Roach then answered procedural questions regarding next steps.
Chairman Sweezy announced the next agenda item for discussion, the 2008 Report to the President, and asked Harris Hollin, leader of Work Group I (Investing in People with Intellectual Disabilities), to provide an update.
Mr. Hollin reminded Committee members that the work of Group I consists of three parts: 1) a follow-up of the Research Application Subcommittee’s work; 2) work on the post-secondary education program; and 3) fetal alcohol syndrome disorders. He provided an update of each sub-group’s progress.
Steve Rhatigan, chair of Work Group II (Removing Barriers to Employment), gave an update on the group’s activities. He explained the group’s decision to eliminate housing as an included topic for the report and discussed the group‘s decision to break the disincentives and incentives into four sub-groups.
Chairman Sweezy noted that Milton Aponte, leader of Work Group III (Promoting Employment and Volunteerism), was unable to participate in the conference call. Laverdia Roach stated that she would provide the update in Mr. Aponte’s absence.
Ms. Roach began by informing the meeting participants that Group III members decided that employment and volunteerism should not receive equal billing in the group’s title and that the title was changed to Promoting Employment, but that volunteerism would be addressed under each of the five areas on which Group III will focus its attention, which include, 1) preparation (formal education and training), 2) implementation (paid, quality employment), 3) maintenance (on-going support), 4) promotion of employer/business incentives to hire workers with intellectual disabilities, and 5) recommendations for public policy.
The work group leaders then noted that they would be holding conference calls within the upcoming weeks to continue work on their respective sections of the report. The Committee discussed the inclusion of the concept of the “soft bigotry of low expectations” and determined that it would be worked in throughout the various sections of the report.
Ms. Atwater observed that agenda items for the quarterly meeting had been covered, and reminded group members of the need to be aware of timelines and assignments. Chairman Sweezy concurred with Ms. Atwater’s observations and reminded the Committee of the timeline for completion of the report.
Laverdia Roach reminded Committee members of the need to begin thinking of a specific title and preferred format (layout) for the PCPID 2008 Report to the President.
Chairman Sweezy adjourned the quarterly meeting.