This chapter explains how to gather the information that is necessary to develop a case and support the eligibility determination.
The process for gathering information includes:
The term consumer refers to anyone who is a DARS customer at any point, from pre-application to case closure.
Numerous community sources—such as organizations, schools, clinics, employers, and doctors—refer persons to DARS for services. DARS staff members must accurately record the referral source in ReHabWorks.
Some referral sources—such as the Department of Veteran's Affairs, the Texas Department of Insurance, and the Division of Workers' Compensation—have specific processes that may affect the consumer's success. Outreach efforts are made by DARS staff members to inform potential referral sources about DARS rehabilitation programs and services and help them make appropriate referrals.
More information about workers' compensation and managing referrals can be found on the following DRS forms, program Web pages, and guidance documents:
Initial contact with a consumer may be made in person, by phone, in writing, or by email. The first contact with a consumer is a critical point in the vocational rehabilitation process. The consumer not only exchanges information with a DARS staff member, but also forms an impression about the staff member's sincerity, concern, and professionalism.
A successful exchange of information means that both the counselor and consumer fully understand what is being discussed. Communicate with the consumer in a way that best accommodates any limitations the consumer has.
During the initial contact, develop an understanding of the consumer's needs. Determine the DARS program that seems most suited to meet those needs and explain the purpose of the program to the consumer.
Be familiar with the following programs and services:
After making initial contact with a consumer:
For additional instructions on completing the initial contact page in ReHabWorks (RHW), regardless of whether the consumer is applying for services from the Division for Blind Services (DBS) or Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS), refer to the ReHabWorks User's Guide (RUG).
If the consumer has an open DRS case in a different supervisory unit, clarify whether the consumer is requesting a case transfer. If the consumer wants to transfer the case, refer to Chapter 19: Technical Information and References, 19.4.3 Transfer of Open Cases.
If the consumer wants to continue receiving services through the assigned supervisory unit, provide the consumer with the contact information for:
Document the contact in ReHabWorks (RHW).
If the consumer has a closed case, see 2.7 Opening a New Case or Adjusting the Phase of a Previously Closed Case.
If the consumer has an open DBS case (that is, if the consumer's primary disability is a visual impairment) and the consumer has another disability that requires additional support services:
The consumer must be assigned to a caseload when the initial contact is entered into ReHabWorks. (The consumer may be reassigned to another counselor at any time. For more information, refer to Chapter 19: Technical Information and References, 19.4 Transfer of Cases and Caseloads.)
If the consumer cannot be seen for an application at the time of the initial contact, schedule an appointment for the earliest possible date (see 2.3.6 Scheduling the Application).
*An application for services must be completed within 30 calendar days of the initial contact. If the application cannot be completed within 30 calendar days, explain in the case file how a good-faith effort was made to meet the time standard.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.41(a)
Ask for the consumer's Social Security number (SSN), but do not deny services to a consumer solely because the consumer will not provide a Social Security card or SSN.
*Section 7(a) of the Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits "any federal, state or local government agency" from denying any "right, benefit, or privilege provided by law" because a person refuses to disclose his or her Social Security number.*
If the consumer refuses to provide an SSN,
If the consumer does not have a Social Security Number (SSN) or prefers not to provide it, ReHabWorks (RHW) assigns a temporary SSN. Do not select a random number for the consumer's SSN.
If the SSN that is entered is already assigned to another consumer in RHW:
If the consumer later presents a Social Security card, replace the temporary (pseudo) SSN generated by RHW with the verified SSN.
When scheduling an appointment to complete an application for services with a consumer, *determine the consumer's
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.37(a)
For information on obtaining language services, see Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 35: Language Services.
When appropriate, use the Application Appointment Letter in ReHabWorks to schedule the appointment.
Ask the consumer to bring the appropriate records, including:
If a consumer does not have some or all the information listed above, do not delay scheduling or completing the application for services. For additional information on the documentation that is required to determine a consumer's eligibility and develop the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), refer to 2.3.4 Social Security Number, 2.4.2 Documents Needed to Verify a Consumer's Identification and Authorization for Employment, and Chapter 4: Assessing and Planning.
If the most appropriate program or provider is not yet determined, do not delay completing the application. If the consumer wants to apply for DARS services, the consumer must still be allowed to do so.
If the consumer chooses to proceed with an application, do not delay initiating an assessment of the consumer's eligibility for services. Ask the consumer to complete the application at the office where the consumer is making the consumer's first contact.
If the services offered during the first contact meet the consumer's needs but are offered by providers other than DARS and the consumer chooses not to apply:
During the application process:
The information for the application can be entered into ReHabWorks by any VRS staff member.
At the time that the consumer is applying for services, ask the consumer to provide original documents that establish that the consumer can work legally in the United States.
If the consumer does not have the required documents:
For more information about presumption of eligibility requirements, refer to Chapter 3: Eligibility, 3.2 Presumption of Eligibility for Social Security Recipients.
Consumers who do not have the proper documents authorizing employment must obtain them because employers are required by federal law to request the documents when a consumer starts working.
DRS may purchase a photo ID for the consumer, if needed, for work and work-related activities (for example, to apply for employment or drive a vehicle to work). For additional information on obtaining a Texas driver's license or ID card from the Texas Department of Public Safety, refer to Apply for a Texas Driver License.
To be eligible for vocational rehabilitation service, the consumer must provide DARS with:
Documents that Establish Both Identity and Employment Authorization
Documents that Establish Identity
Documents that Establish Employment Authorization
For persons under age 18 who are unable to present a document listed above:
Examine the documents presented. Expired documents cannot be accepted. If the documents are not expired, but will expire in the near future, counsel the consumer that unexpired documents are required by an employer.
Place in the case file a copy of the documents provided by the consumer.
If the consumer is reluctant to allow the documents to be copied, or if a copy machine is not immediately available, for each document examined, enter the following information in a case note:
As of September 1, 2016, voter registration requirements no longer apply to applicants for vocational rehabilitation services.
The application must be completed in a private location that maintains the confidentiality of the information provided by the consumer (see Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 20: Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information).
Explain to the consumer the circumstances under which the consumer's personal information is released. For additional information, refer to the DARS5061, Notice and Consent for Disclosure of Personal Information form. This form must be signed in order to proceed with an application for DARS services.
Explain in detail the expected outcomes and services related to the Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
The information from the application is usually recorded electronically in ReHabWorks (RHW). See the ReHabWorks User's Guide (RUG) for additional information on completing the application in ReHabWorks.
When RHW is not available, capture the information for the consumer's application for services on the DARS5056, DRS Application for Services form. Enter the information from the applications into RHW as soon as RHW is available. Keep a copy of the paper application in the case file, even after the data has been entered in RHW.
The information captured at the time of application can be updated directly in RHW, as long as the case remains in application status. If application information needs to be updated when the case is no longer in application status, refer to the ReHabWorks Users Guide, 1.6 Data Correction Request for information about requesting a data correction.
To see a snapshot of the data that is recorded in the data warehouse, refer to the Application to Closure Snapshot report in ReHabWorks. For more information, refer to the RHW Users Guide, 23.2.17 VR Application to Closure Snapshots.
Before the application is signed, discuss with the consumer the
Provide a copy of the application statements to the consumer.
Approval by the counselor and the signature of the consumer, or the consumer's representative, verify that the consumer was provided the above information.
If a representative is signing the application statements for the consumer, explain to the consumer that information in his or her case file will be made available to the representative. For guidelines on establishing an individual or parent as the representative for the consumer, see Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 20: Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information, 20.1.1 Applicability.
Although the consumer may choose whomever he or she wants as a representative, inform the consumer that you will not purchase goods or services from a provider who serves as his or her representative because of the conflict of interest. For further information, see Chapter 17: Purchasing, 17.4.18 Identifying the Provider and Payee.
Personal Identification Number (PIN) – A four-digit electronic signature used as a signature of authorization in ReHabWorks for the consumer, the consumer's representative, or the consumer's parent or guardian.
ReHabWorks (RHW) – An automated tool (or electronic case management system) used to manage cases from initial contact to post closure. For more information about RHW, refer to the ReHabWorks Users Guide (RUG).
Because RHW is an electronic system, the consumer's signature on an application in RHW is recorded electronically. The consumer signs the application electronically by using a PIN. See PIN Procedures, below.
When RHW is not available, print a copy of DARS5057, DARS Application Statement-Vocational Rehabilitation Program, and have the consumer sign the application statement. Tell the consumer that a pseudo (temporary) PIN is used to enter the information into RHW as soon as possible. For additional instructions, refer to 2.4.9 When DRS Staff Members May Enter a PIN on Behalf of a Consumer. Keep a copy of the signed application statement in the consumer's paper case file.
ReHabWorks automatically assigns the last four digits of a consumer's Social Security number (SSN) as a pseudo (temporary) PIN when the initial contact is created.
The consumer sets a new four-digit PIN:
The consumer enters a PIN as a signature of authorization on the application and on all other electronic RHW documents that require a signature of authorization; for example, the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) and any IPE amendment. Encourage the consumer to use a number that is easy to remember and is not the last four digits of the consumer's SSN. RHW uses the last four digits to create the pseudo PIN. Do not record the PIN in the case note, but encourage the consumer to make a note of the PIN and keep it where it can be found easily.
When the consumer cannot enter a PIN, follow the procedures in 2.4.9 When DRS Staff Members May Enter a PIN on Behalf of a Consumer.
The signature of either a parent or guardian is required when the consumer is:
Usually a foster parent is not the legal guardian for his or her foster child and cannot sign an application for services, releases, or the IPE on behalf of the child. The child's managing conservator has the legal authority to sign these documents. Locate the conservator by contacting the nearest office of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
A person who is under 18 years of age and legally married is not considered a minor under Texas law.
When required, the parent or guardian sets a PIN in RHW. Encourage the parent or guardian to use a number that is easy to remember and is not the last four digits of the consumer's SSN. RHW uses the last four digits to create a pseudo (temporary) PIN. Do not record the PIN in the case note, but encourage the parent or guardian to make a note of the PIN and keep it where it can be found easily. For more information about setting a PIN in RHW, refer to the ReHabWorks User's Guide, Chapter 8 PINs.
When required, ask the parent or guardian to:
A consumer may designate someone to serve as his or her representative in all or part of the rehabilitation process. The representative may be authorized to sign documents, speak on the consumer's behalf, or serve in other capacities indicated on the DARS1487, Designation of Applicant or Consumer Representative. In some cases, a representative can help facilitate communication and help the rehabilitation process move forward to a successful outcome.
For guidelines on establishing an individual or parent as the representative for the consumer, see Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 20: Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information, 20.1.1 Applicability.
When required, the representative sets a PIN in RHW. Encourage the representative to use a number that is easy to remember and is not the last four digits of the consumer's SSN. RHW uses the last four digits to create the pseudo (temporary) PIN. Do not record the PIN in the case note, but do encourage the parent or guardian to make a note of the PIN and keep it where it can be found easily. For more information about setting a PIN in RHW, refer to the ReHabWorks User's Guide, Chapter 8 PINs.
When required, ask the representative to:
If the consumer cannot remember his or her PIN and RHW is available:
To learn how to reset the consumer's representative, parent, or guardian PIN, refer to the ReHabWorks User's Guide, Chapter 8 PINs.
The following forms, in addition to the application, are signed to permit the exchange of information needed during the rehabilitation process:
File the signed forms according to Chapter 19: Technical Information and References, 19.3 Case File Maintenance.
In addition to a copy of the application statements, explain and provide the following:
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.57(b)
A personal identification number (PIN) is the equivalent of a legal signature. Do not enter it in ReHabWorks (RHW) without the direct consent and involvement of the consumer.
The only circumstances under which DRS staff members may enter a PIN in RHW on behalf of the consumer are as follows:
As soon as RHW is available, create the pseudo PIN using one of the following two procedures, depending upon the circumstance:
If the consumer has already set his or her PIN, ask the area manager or the area manager's designee to:
If the consumer has not already set his or her PIN:
Document in a case note the use of the pseudo PIN and the reason for using it.
Keep the signed paper application in the paper case file, even after recording the information in RHW.
Ask the consumer to reset the PIN on his or her next visit to the DARS office, when RHW is available.
If a consumer calls to request a change in planned services or goals, ask him or her to come into the office to enter the PIN into RHW.If the consumer is not able to come into the office in a timely manner, ask the area manager or the area manager's designee to:
When the consumer is present and RHW is available:
When a consumer cannot physically enter a PIN:
The counselor must conduct a diagnostic interview with every consumer. If the counselor completes the application, he or she should, in most circumstances, conduct the diagnostic interview at the same time.
The primary purpose of the diagnostic interview is to obtain information that is relevant to determining eligibility. It is an opportunity to identify knowledge, skills, abilities, and key attributes from the consumer's perspective.
A good diagnostic interview includes
Prepare for the diagnostic interview by
Unless unavailable, review the Counselor's Desk Reference (CDR) chapters that are relevant to the disability, paying particular attention to the sample questions listed. For additional information about a consumer's condition and treatment and the condition's possible impact on employment, consult the Medical Disability Guidelines.
Encourage the consumer to speak freely since only the consumer can describe what he or she has been experiencing in regard to perceptions of disability and vocational impact. However, to accomplish the purpose of the interview, you must direct the course of the interview to gather the information needed to establish eligibility. In addition to the consumer's perspective, you record impressions of the consumer's behavior that will
Through probing and exploration, the productive diagnostic interview establishes information that helps you understand the consumer's
Exploring work and disability history may reveal the need for further diagnostic review. Order records and/or purchase evaluations as necessary.
When a DRS employee or other reliable source is aware of or observes behavior that could pose a threat to other DRS employees or to providers, it is important to capture the information as specifically and factually as possible by creating a case note in the consumer's case file.
A DRS employee creates a case note:
The employee enters the case note in ReHabWorks, under the topic Requires Special Attention.
A case note must include as much factual information as possible about the incident, including:
Report any incident affecting the security of a DRS employee or DRS property to DRS management and, if appropriate, to the local law enforcement authority. Place a copy of the police report in the paper file if police were involved.
When other DRS employees refer to the consumer's online case record, the case note alerts them to use caution when working with the consumer. Additional case notes must be entered as needed to maintain an accurate record of potential risks or of changes to the circumstances.
Although it is important to alert others to potential risk, DRS employees must exercise extreme care in using a case note titled Requires Special Attention to avoid unnecessarily labeling a consumer.
Incidents affecting the security of a DRS employee or DRS property must be reported to:
If local law enforcement is involved, the DRS employee places a copy of the police report in the consumer's paper file.
For more information on reporting an incident, see the Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 36: Incident Reporting.
When a consumer has a DRS case that was previously closed, and is requesting services, the counselor determines whether to:
Do not delay or deny a consumer's request to apply for additional services on the basis that the consumer has received services from DRS in the past.
A new case may be opened for a consumer who has received services from DARS in the past. Follow the policies and procedures outlined in 2.3 Initial Contact and 2.4 Application to process the case in the same way as for any other applicant requesting services:
As a part of the diagnostic interview and the assessing and planning process, the counselor also:
If a consumer has had two or more cases closed unsuccessfully after being found eligible for services, the counselor:
When a consumer requests additional services from DARS after the consumer's case has been closed successfully, consider first what level of services the consumer requires.
If the consumer requires only limited services to maintain, regain, or advance in employment (when the lack of advancement is due to the disability), use post-employment (post-closure) services. See Chapter 4: Assessing and Planning, 4.8.1 Amending the IPE for Post-Employment Services.
If the consumer requires more complex and comprehensive services, open a new case. See 2.3 Initial Contact and 2.4 Application to process the case in the same way as for any other applicant for services.
If the case was successfully closed within the past 12 months, obtain approval from the area manager before opening a new case.
As a part of the diagnostic interview and the assessing and planning process, the counselor:
A Phase Adjustment is a ReHabWorks (RHW) process that changes a closed case with a completed individual plan for employment (IPE) back to an active case.
Phase adjustments must be used only when the:
Note: A federal fiscal year begins October 1 and ends Sept 30.
To request and complete a phase adjustment from a closed status after IPE back to an active status, use the following procedure.
If you learn that a consumer whose case was closed as an unsuccessful closure became employed during the same federal fiscal year that the case closed, you must first complete the phase adjustment process above.
Use the following procedure to change an unsuccessful closure after IPE to a successful closure.
If you learn that a case was closed as a successful closure but did not meet the criteria for a successful closure, you must first complete the phase adjustment process above.
Use the following procedure to change a successful closure after IPE to an unsuccessful closure.