Evaluation of the Ticket to Work Program: Assessment of Post-Rollout Implementation and Early Impacts
The Ticket to Work (TTW) program was designed to promote employment by enhancing the market for services that help people receiving disability benefits become economically self-sufficient. To date, the Social Security Administration has successfully begun the market enhancement process by putting the core elements of the TTW program in place across the country—mailing a Ticket to more than 11 million disability beneficiaries and inviting them to use it as a way to obtain meaningful employment; implementing new rules that allow beneficiaries to attempt to work without fear of triggering a review of their disability status; and enrolling service providers, or employment networks, that offer beneficiaries new choices for providers and service mixes. Early impacts from this report to Congress suggest that TTW slightly increased beneficiary use of employment services in 2002, the first rollout year. However, the increase did not appear to produce a corresponding increase in beneficiary earnings or a reduction in benefit payments during the first two years. The authors note that impacts for 2004 and later may be larger—participation rates continue to increase, and many nonparticipants say they plan to assign their Tickets. Nevertheless, analysis of trends in TTW payment data suggests that the program would have to induce future shifts in beneficiary behavior that are much larger than what has been observed so far in order to generate the level of exits from the program envisioned by Congress. In particular, meeting the exit goal will require TTW participation to increase substantially and a larger share of participants to earn enough so that they no longer receive cash benefits.