The Social Security Administration issued final rules designed to improve the Ticket to Work program. The changes will improve the effectiveness of the Ticket program in assisting beneficiaries with disabilities who want to work.

"These rules outline a new and improved Ticket to Work program and are based on learning from our experiences, listening to input from interested parties, and responding to their suggestions," said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. "Beneficiaries with disabilities will have greater flexibility and expanded choices in obtaining the services they need to attain their employment goals."

The new Ticket to Work program rules:

* Include more beneficiaries under the Program--The population of individuals eligible for a Ticket is expanded to include beneficiaries who are expected to medically improve.

* Increase incentive payments for Employment Networks (ENs)--The new rules modify the EN payment systems to create greater financial incentives for service providers to participate, which will improve beneficiary access to services and expand the pool of quality providers available to serve beneficiaries.

* Increase the value of the Ticket--The rules for Ticket assignment are changed to enable beneficiaries with disabilities to take advantage of a more effective combination of services from both State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and ENs.

* Synergize efforts--The new rules promote better alignment of the Ticket to Work Program, the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Program, the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security Program, and other Social Security work incentive initiatives.