Competency Unit 1: Past and Current Efforts Made by ssa to Promote Employment for Disability icon

Competency Unit 1: Past and Current Efforts Made by ssa to Promote Employment for Disability

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MODULE 1 -- Promoting and Supporting Employment Outcomes for SSA Disability Beneficiaries


Introduction 1

CWIC Core Competencies Addressed 1

Competency Unit 1: Past and Current Efforts Made by SSA to Promote Employment for Disability

Beneficiaries 3

Statement of the Problem -- Growth of the SSA Disability Programs 3

Collaborative Efforts Involving Public Healthcare Systems 4

Medicaid Initiatives 4

Medicare Initiatives 5 Collaborative Efforts Involving the Vocational Rehabilitation System 5

The VR Reimbursement Program 6

The Ticket to Work and the VR System 6

The State Partnership Initiative (SPI) 6

Collaborative Efforts Involving the National Employment and Training System 7

The Work Incentive Grant (WIG) Initiatives 7

The Disability Program Navigator (DPN) Initiative 7

Collaborative Efforts Involving Public Education Systems 8

Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD) Projects 9

Internal Changes SSA has Made to Promote Employment of Beneficiaries with Disabilities 9

Area Work Incentives Coordinators (AWICs) 9

Work Incentive Liaisons (WILs) 10

The Ticket to Work Program 10

The Benefits Planning, Assistance, and Outreach (BPAO) Program 11

The Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Program 11

Protection & Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) 12

Other SSA Demonstration Projects Related to Beneficiaries with Disabilities 12

The Accelerated Benefits Demonstration Project 12

Benefit Offset -- 4 State Pilot 13

Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) 13

Homeless Outreach Projects 14

The Mental Health Treatment Study 15

Ongoing Medical Benefits -- HIV/Auto Immune Deficiency

Demonstration 15

Pediatric Medical Units (PMU) 16

Conclusion 16

Conducting Independent Research 17

^ Competency Unit 2: The Ticket-to-Work Program 19

The First Six Years of the Ticket Program: 2002 to 2008 19

The 2008 Amendments to the Ticket Regulations 20

Ticket Eligibility 22

Distribution of Tickets 22

Eligibility for a Second Ticket 23

Assigning a Ticket or Otherwise Using it and Reassigning a Ticket, Inactive Status, and

Extension Periods 23

Inactive Status 24

Retrieving and Reassigning a Ticket 24

The 90-Day Extension Period 24

Medical Continuing Review (CDR) Protection and Use of a Ticket 25

“Using of a Ticket” 25

Progress Reviews 25

The Progress Review Chart 25

The Work Requirement 26

High School Diploma or GED 26

Degree or Certification Program 27

Technical, Trade or Vocational School 28

Combining Work and Education / Training 28

The Variance Tolerance Provisions 29

Beneficiaries Served by State VR Agencies 29

Appealing Timely Progress Review Decisions 30

When “Using a Ticket” Ends 30

Ticket Termination 30

MAXIMUS: The Operations Support Manager 31

CESSI: The Program Manager for Recruitment and Outreach 31

Employment Networks 31

EN Qualifications 32

EN Responsibilities 32

State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies 33

The Individual Work Plan (IWP) 33

Employment Network Payment Systems 34

Election of an EN Payment Systems 35

The Payment Calculation Base 35

The Outcome Payment System 35

Beneficiaries Who Receive SSI Only 36

The Outcome-Milestone Payment System 36

Phase 1 Milestone Payments 37

Phase 2 Milestone Payments 38

Reconciliation Payments 38

EN Payments in Transition Cases 39

Where EN Attained Some or All Milestone Payments, but no Outcome Payments

Under Old Rules 39

Where EN Was Entitled to One or More Outcome Payments Under the Old Rules 40

An EN May Use Outcome or Milestone Payments to Make Payments to a Beneficiary 41

Payments to State VR Agencies 41

Limitations on Payments to Employment Networks 42

New Payment Rules for Sequential Service by State VR Agency and Private EN 43

Dispute Resolution 44

Disputes Between Beneficiaries and State VR Agencies 44

Disputes Between Beneficiaries and ENs 45

Representation of Beneficiaries in Ticket Disputes 45

Disputes Between ENs and Operations Support Manager 46

Role of WIPA Projects and CWICs in Working with Employment Networks 46

Role of WIPA Projects and CWICs in Working with Beneficiaries on Ticket Issues 48

Conducting Independent Research 49

Timely Progress for Ticket Users Quick Reference Chart 50

Chart I -- New Outcome Milestone Payment Table 51

Chart II -- New Outcome Payment System Table -- Title II and Concurrent 51

Chart III -- New Outcome Payment System Table -- Title XVI Only 51

^ Competency Unit 3: Understanding the Disability Services System: Key Stakeholder Agencies

that Fund or Provide Vocational / Educational Services for Persons

with Disabilities 53

Introduction 53

Understanding the Disability Service System 54

Understanding Employment Services and Supports Available to Individuals with Disabilities 55

The Social Security Administration 57

Overview of the Social Security Act 57

Today’s Social Security Administration 57

Office of Employment Support Programs (OESP) 58

Other SSA Personnel 59

State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies 60

Employment Networks (ENs) 62

EN Requirements 62

EN Responsibilities 62

Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) and One-Stop Career Centers 63

“One-Stop” Approach 63

Individual Training Accounts 64

Eligibility and Service Requirements 64

State and Local Workforce Investment Boards 65

Serving Individuals with Disabilities within the One-Stop System 66

State / Local Mental Retardation / Developmental Disabilities (MR/DD) Agencies 66

State / Local Mental Health and Substance Abuse Agencies 67

Centers for Independent Living (CILs) 68

History of CILs and the Independent Living Movement 68

The State Protection & Advocacy System 69

Description of the Individual P&A Programs 70

PABSS Priorities 71

Public School Systems 73

Special Education 73

US Department of Veteran’s Affairs and Veterans Administration 74

Overview of Educational and Vocational Counseling Services 74

Overview of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program 75

Eligibility and Entitlement for VR&E Services 75

VR&E Services 76

Overview of the Independent Living Program (ILP) 77

Veteran Entrepreneurship and VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program 77

Community Agencies Administering Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) 78

Eligibility for Participating in an IDA Program 78

Conclusion 79

Conducting Independent Research 79

^ Competency Unit 4: WIPA is all about WORK!! Understanding the CWIC’s Role in Promoting

Employment for SSA Beneficiaries with Disabilities 81

Introduction to the WIPA Initiative 81

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Services Defined 82

1. Work Incentives Planning Services 82

2. Work Incentives Assistance Services 83

3. Support to PMRO Work Incentives Education /Ticket Marketing / Recruitment 84

4. Additional Work Incentives Outreach Services 85

Community Work Incentive Coordinator (CWIC) -- New Functions for a New Program 85

Analysis of New CWIC Functions 86

Function #1 -- WIPA Programs Focus Services Toward Beneficiaries who are

Employed or Actively Seeking Employment 86

Function #2 -- WIPA Programs are Active Partners in SSA’s Overall Employment Initiative 87

Function #3 -- WIPA Programs Work in Close Collaboration with Community

Partners Providing Employment Services and Supports 88

Function #4 -- WIPA Programs Provide Outreach Services in Collaboration with the

Program Manager for Recruitment and Outreach (PMRO) 89

Function #5 -- WIPA Programs Provide Long-Term Benefits-Related Case Management

Services Throughout the Course of a Beneficiary’s Employment 89

Function #6 -- WIPA Programs are Responsible for Conducting Ongoing Quality

Assurance Activities to Ensure Program Success 90

The CWIC’s Role in Promoting Employment for SSA Beneficiaries with Disabilities 91

Helping Beneficiaries Identify, Select, and/or Clarify Their Career Goals 91

Helping Beneficiaries Determine What Specific Services, Supports or Accommodations

May be Necessary to Achieve the Desired Career Goal 92

Explaining SSA’s Ticket to Work Program and the Full Array of Vocational Services and

Supports Available to Individuals with Disabilities in the Local WIPA Service Area 93

Connecting Beneficiaries with the Specific Services and Supports Needed to Obtain and

Maintain Paid Employment from Agencies 94

Assisting Beneficiaries with Disabilities to Resolve Problems Related to Work Efforts,

Higher Education, Occupational Skills Training and Work Attainment or Continuation of Work 94

Conclusion 94

Conducting Independent Research 95

Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) Responsibilities and Competencies 96


The primary objective of the WIPA initiative is to assist SSA beneficiaries with transitioning from dependence on public benefits to paid employment and greater economic self-sufficiency. This represents a paradigm shift in which CWICs form an integral part of the vocational services system instead of merely providing a peripheral benefits counseling service. To actively promote employment outcomes, CWICs must have a solid understanding of SSA’s Ticket to Work program and various other work incentives, as well as the full array of vocational services available to individuals with disabilities. While CWICs must also be able to help beneficiaries understand the potential impact of certain employment outcomes on their benefits, they must also be proficient at connecting beneficiaries with the specific services and supports needed to obtain and maintain paid employment.

The content in this Module will begin by focusing on recent governmental efforts to increase community-based paid employment and current best practices in employment services, and SSA’s efforts to promote employment and increase self-sufficiency for disability beneficiaries with an emphasis on the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program. Content will further focus on eligibility for and services available from various entities such as state Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies the Workforce Development System, One-Stop Centers and the Disability Program Navigator Initiative, and other employment programs or key stakeholders in the disability services system (i.e.: state/local Mental Retardation/Developmental Disability agencies, state/local Mental Health/Chemical Dependency/ Substance Abuse agencies, US Veteran’s Administration, Centers for Independent Living, State Protection & Advocacy agency, and , public schools systems). Finally, content in this area will focus on the CWIC role in promoting employment for SSA beneficiaries with disabilities and on establishing functional collaborative partnerships with the community.

CWIC Core Competencies Addressed

1. Describes recent governmental efforts to increase community-based paid employment outcomes for people with even the most significant disabilities and current best practices in employment services and supports for persons with disabilities.

2. Demonstrates knowledge of past and current SSA efforts to promote employment and increase self-sufficiency for disability beneficiaries, including the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program.

3. Demonstrates knowledge of state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agencies, One-Stop Career Centers and the Disability Program Navigator Initiative, and other public programs that fund or provide employment services for SSA beneficiaries with disabilities.

4. Demonstrates knowledge of the CWIC role in promoting employment for SSA beneficiaries with disabilities and maintaining functional collaborative partnerships with community agencies to promote employment for individuals with disabilities.

Competency Unit 1 -- Past and Current Efforts Made by SSA to Promote Employment for Disability Beneficiaries

Statement of the Problem - Growth of the SSA Disability Programs

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the Social Security disability programs authorized under title II of the Social Security Act (DI, CDB and DWB) are currently the largest federal programs providing cash payments to people with disabilities. In 2005, about 7.5 million persons received Social Security benefits based on disability. This represented an increase from 6.5 million beneficiaries in 2002. In addition, nearly 7.1 million adults and children received SSI due to blindness or disability in 2005. The number of blind or disabled adults aged 18 to 64 rose by 1.6 percent between December 2004 and December 2005, while the number under age 18 increased by 4.4 percent. Benefit payments from the DI trust fund increased by 9.1 percent from $78.2 billion in 2004 to $85.4 billion in 2005. Total SSI payments were in excess of $30 billion in 2005, (SSA Annual Statistical Supplement, 2006).

The steady growth pattern of the DI and SSI rolls seen in the past few years is not a new phenomenon. As early as 1994, the GAO was investigating the growth in Social Security’s disability programs. In a study released in February of 1994, the GAO reported that in the 3 years between 1989 and 1992, DI applications rose by a third, and almost half the applicants in 1992 succeeded in obtaining benefits. The GAO also found that once on the rolls, beneficiaries were staying longer. Between 1985 and 1992, the number of beneficiaries who had been on the rolls more than 15 years grew by an alarming 93 percent. In addition, while the total number of DI terminations continues to increase as the rolls swell, termination rates as a percentage of those on the rolls have steadily declined.

Terminations from the DI program averaged approximately 12% during the 1988-89 period, but stood at only 9.5% by 1994. SSA research concluded that termination rates were declining for three main reasons. First, the younger average age of beneficiaries over the last 10 to 15 years has led to a lower number of conversions to retirement and terminations due to death. Secondly, the decline in the number and rate of medical continuing disability reviews (CDRs) has been a significant problem (SSA Bulletin, 1996). Finally, terminations from the disability programs due to employment are almost non-existent. Recent SSA statistics cited in a 2003 GAO report estimate that less than 1 of every 500 DI beneficiaries has left the rolls by returning to work.

Expansion of the disability programs and the poor employment rates of adults with disabilities have become major concerns for SSA and disability policy makers across the country. Too often, this alarming growth of the Social Security disability rolls has been represented and perceived as SSA’s problem to solve in isolation, when in fact it is a larger societal problem with myriad complex causes. Receipt of Social Security disability benefits is merely the last stop on a long journey that many people with disabilities make from the point of disability onset to the point at which disability is so severe that work is not possible. All along this journey, individuals encounter the policies and practices of the other systems involved in disability and employment issues. When these systems fail to stem the progression of disability or work at cross purposes with one another to prevent successful employment retention or return-to-work, it is the Social Security disability system that bears the eventual brunt of this failure. Ultimately however, the costs associated with having so many Americans leaving the productive workforce to lead lives of dependency on federal disability benefits are borne by all US citizens.

Any meaningful effort to slow down or reverse this relentless march toward federal disability benefits will require significant and sustained collaboration and coordination between the Social Security Administration and the other federal agencies with a stake in developing disability and employment policy. Over the past two decades, SSA has made a concerted effort to promote employment for disability beneficiaries by improving its own internal policies and practices as well as by partnering with other federal agencies. This unit will provide an overview of these efforts within the following areas:

  • Public Healthcare Systems

  • Vocational Rehabilitation System

  • National Employment and Training System

  • Public Education Systems

  • Internal Changes SSA has Made to Promote Employment

Collaborative Efforts Involving Public Healthcare Systems

The most commonly cited reasons SSI/DI beneficiaries offer for not engaging in work activity are the perceived and real risks of losing health care benefits. For individuals with disabilities who may have significant health care needs or high costs, the thought of losing health care coverage can be particularly frightening. Health insurance considerations are also of paramount importance when beneficiaries make decisions about continuing to work versus making application for disability benefits. The desperate search for affordable health insurance fuels the increased SSI/DI application rates as it simultaneously diminishes the rates of termination due to employment. SSA is well aware that healthcare concerns may represent the single most salient factor contributing to increasing rates of dependency on federal disability benefits and depressed rates of competitive employment for individuals with disabilities. If progress is to be made in promoting employment for beneficiaries with disabilities, SSA must partner with the public healthcare systems of Medicaid and Medicare to decrease employment disincentives. Some of the collaborative efforts SSA has been involved with to date in this regard are described in the following sections.

^ Medicaid Initiatives

In the past 15 years, SSA has made a significant effort to reduce the employment disincentives related to loss of Medicaid coverage. In 1987, SSA in collaboration with HCFA (now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS), implemented the 1619(b) extended Medicaid coverage for SSI recipients who work. This provision provides continued Medicaid coverage for individuals whose incomes are too high to qualify for an SSI cash payment, but are not high enough to offset the loss of Medicaid or publicly funded attendant care. It allows SSA to disregard earned income when determining Medicaid eligibility up to the State’s designated threshold amount. This one provision is arguably the most powerful work incentive in the SSI program.

SSA has also worked in close partnership with CMS to expand Medicaid buy-in programs for individuals with disabilities who work. The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (TWWIIA) included two key provisions designed to expand authority originally granted to states under the 1997 Balanced Budget Act (BBA) to provide Medicaid coverage to working people with disabilities. The first of these is the creation of the Medicaid buy-in program. These programs are generally referred to as Medicaid buy-in programs, since both the BBA and the Ticket Act authorized states to require beneficiaries to pay small premiums for this coverage. The various programs target individuals who otherwise would not qualify for Medicaid coverage because their earnings or personal assets exceed established thresholds. Under the Ticket Act, states have considerable flexibility in terms of establishing asset, resource and income limits for working individuals with disabilities between the ages of 16-64. In addition, states can make the Medicaid buy-in program available to individuals who may no longer meet SSA medical criteria for disability.

In addition to the Medicaid buy-in program, Section 203 of the Act created a grant program through the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that would encourage and support states in the development of a buy-in program. These grants, termed Medicaid Infrastructure Grants (MIG) permitted states considerable freedom to address a variety of work incentive issues in their state systems. State eligibility for MIG grants was based to a large extent on the state’s willingness to provide personal assistance services to employed individuals with disabilities.

A promising new collaborative effort between SSA and CMS is the Work Incentives for Participants in the Florida Freedom Initiative. The Florida Freedom Initiative is a collaborative demonstration recently conducted by CMS through the Florida Department of Children and Families. The demonstration is based on a “cash and counseling” model in which participants receive a monthly cash allowance instead of traditional services provided by the agency. Participants use the allowance to purchase necessary services from the provider of their choice. SSA is collaborating with CMS by modifying a number of SSI program rules to test whether a combination of CMS and SSA waivers will improve the employment outcomes of participants.

^ Medicare Initiatives

Once again, SSA has actively engaged CMS in developing solutions to the problem of beneficiaries fearing the loss of Medicare coverage due to paid employment. With the passage of the Ticket legislation in 1999, the Extended Period of Medicare Coverage (EPMC) was created. This extended premium free Medicare coverage for beneficiaries who lose cash benefits due to work for a minimum of 93 months after the end of the Trial Work Period. In many instances, Medicare coverage may extend well beyond 93 months.

In addition, SSA and CMS worked to create help for beneficiaries who buy into Medicare called Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI). This provision allows eligible individuals to get help with purchasing Medicare Part A if premimum free Medicare benefits were lost due to return to work at a substantial level. To be eligible for QDWI, an individual must have countable income of more than 120% but less than 135% of the federal poverty level, countable resources not exceeding twice the SSI limit, and not otherwise be eligible for Medicaid. Eligibility for Medicaid benefits under the QDWI program is limited to payment of Medicare Part A premiums. More information on this program is provided in Unit 2 of Module 4.

Collaborative Efforts Involving the Vocational Rehabilitation System

The Social Security Administration has a long history of interaction with the State vocational rehabilitation agencies (SVRAs). Since 1981, the SSA has reimbursed SVRAs for services provided to SSA beneficiaries that result in specified employment outcomes. The SSA VR Reimbursement Program replaced an even earlier block grant program and was designed to improve program outcomes and accountability. Prior to the phased roll-out of the Ticket to Work program in States across the nation, under the VR Reimbursement program, the State Disability Determination Service (DDS) applied a set of criteria to individuals awarded SSI or title II disability benefits. Individuals who appeared to be possible candidates for rehabilitation were subsequently referred to the SVRA. SSA beneficiaries selected for referral to the SVRA were required to participate in the VR program or risk benefit suspension. The program also allowed beneficiaries to apply for VR services on their own.

The Ticket legislation repealed SSA’s authority to refer title II and title XVI beneficiaries to SVRA or alternate providers for VR services in Ticket states, with the exception of title XVI recipients who have not attained the age of 16. SSA may still refer these individuals to the appropriate State VR agency administering the State program under title V of the Act. This legislation also removed all sanctions for beneficiaries who refused VR services.

^ The VR Reimbursement Program

Under the VR reimbursement program, SSA reimburses SVRA for the “reasonable and necessary” costs of providing rehabilitation services to an eligible beneficiary. In order for the SVRA to receive reimbursement, the services must have resulted in the individual obtaining employment achieving earnings at the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level for nine consecutive months. When a SVRA believes a beneficiary has achieved the earnings criteria, a payment claim is submitted to SSA. States are reimbursed for the actual costs of providing direct services, and administrative counseling and placement costs and tracking costs are reimbursed based on cost formulas. State agencies are responsible for submitting evidence to SSA to document that the individual has obtained employment and had earnings exceeding SGA for nine consecutive months.

Many states viewed the SSA VR reimbursement program as a major source of revenue and rely on these funds to operate their programs. SSA Cost Reimbursement accounts for approximately 5% of all case service monies available to the state VR agencies and represented a crucial source of revenue during a period of extreme budget pressures in many states.

SVRAs are unique in that they have a legislative responsibility to provide services to all eligible beneficiaries under their current authorizing legislation, Title I of the Rehabilitation Act. SVRAs are able to use existing Title I monies, coupled with funds from other sources, to serve beneficiaries, while simultaneously receiving funds from SSA to reimburse the SVRA for the same services it is obligated to provide under Title I. The problem with the VR reimbursement program from SSA’s perspective was that SSA was continuously under pressure from consumer groups to expand the choice of service providers. In 1994, SSA expanded the reimbursement program to include “alternate providers”. This allowed other public or private rehabilitation agencies to apply for provider status to receive SSA cost reimbursement in the same manner as the SVRAs.

^ The Ticket to Work and the VR System

The passage of the Ticket-to-Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act of 1999 significantly changed the relationship between SSA and the SVRAs. The purpose of the Ticket-to-Work program is to provide eligible beneficiaries with greater choice and control of the employment support services they need to assist them in obtaining employment or returning to work. Under the Ticket program, eligible beneficiaries receive a “Ticket” that can be assigned to a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency or any other approved Employment Network (EN). When a beneficiary assigns a Ticket, he or she works with the EN to develop an Individual Work Plan (IWP) or an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) with the SVRA. The IWP/IPE identifies the beneficiary’s employment goals as well as the employment services and supports that the beneficiary will receive to achieve his or her employment goal. The SVRA may choose payment under the traditional cost reimbursement payment method or may be paid as an EN.

^ The State Partnership Initiative (SPI)

Under a March, 1998 Executive Order the President created the National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. The first initiative under this executive order was establishment of The State Partnership Systems Change Initiative (SPI). This was a unique collaborative effort sponsored by SSA and the Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA) The purpose of SPI was to support selected project states in the development of innovative effective service delivery systems which increase employment of individuals with disabilities, such as: Employer Partnerships, Customer Driven Services, Waivers & Buy-In, State Policy Change Initiatives, Benefits Assistance, Employment Supports and Programs.

The Social Security Administration and The Rehabilitation Services Administration funded a combined total of eighteen demonstration states. The Social Security Administration awarded grants to 12 states to develop innovative projects to assist adults with disabilities in their efforts to reenter the work force. The Rehabilitation Services Administration, a branch of the Department of Education, funded Systems Change Grants in six states. These awards helped states develop state-wide programs of services and support for their residents with disabilities that will increase job opportunities for them and decrease their dependence on benefits, including Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Other federal agencies such as the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services joined the Social Security Administration in support of these projects. To read the evaluation reports in this project, go to:

Collaborative Efforts Involving the National Employment and Training System

SSA has made a monumental effort in the recent past to increase coordination and collaboration with the US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (DOLETA). The passage of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 initiated a major reorganization of the nation’s employment programs that was intended to consolidate preparation and employment services into a unified system of support. Key to this reorganization was the creation of a national network of One-Stop Career Centers throughout the United States and its territories to be a single place where job seekers and potential job seekers can receive the services that they need to become employed or re-employed (Morris & Farah, 2002). Although previous Department of Labor employment programs such as the Job Training Partnership Act had been largely ineffective in serving individuals with significant disabilities, WIA presented a new opportunity for beneficiaries to successfully access and benefit from the same employment services as those available to the general public (Bader, 2003). Prior to the passage of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), formal interaction between SSA and DOL had been virtually non-existent.

^ The Work Incentive Grant (WIG) Initiatives

One of the first areas in which SSA worked collaboratively with DOLETA was on the Work Incentive Grant (WIG) initiative that began in 2001. This initiative provided competitive grants designed to enhance the employability, employment and career advancement of people with disabilities through enhanced service delivery in the new One-Stop delivery system established under WIA. The Work Incentive Grant (WIG) program provides grant funds to consortia and/or partnerships of public and private non-profit entities working in coordination with the One-Stop delivery system to augment the existing programs and services and ensure programmatic access and streamlined, seamless service delivery for people with disabilities. Although SSA did not initially provide funding for WIG projects, they did actively encourage the inclusion of Benefits Planning/Counseling as a service provided by WIG personnel or coordinated through the local SSA funded Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach (BPAO) provider (currently the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Program or WIPA). WIG project personnel were permitted to attend the required BPAO training and also were included in training events funded thru the SSA/RSA collaborative State Partnership Initiative. SSA obviously was making an effort to bring these projects together with their own employment demonstration projects and the national BPAO initiative.

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