After determining eligibility, the next steps in the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) process are to:
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.45(b)
At every step in the rehabilitation process, provide the consumer with information to make informed choices.
Discuss with the consumer which options are consistent with the consumer's needs and attributes. *This approach supports the consumer's ability to make informed choices in the development of their IPEs with respect to the selection of the:
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.52(b)(4)(i–v)
Many consumer characteristics can affect the selection of an employment goal. You and the consumer work together to identify and assess the consumer's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, and interests that pertain to selecting a competitive integrated employment goal. Obtain and provide sufficient information, resources, and support to allow the consumer to exercise informed choice.
*To the greatest extent possible, use existing information obtained during the eligibility assessment.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.45(f)
Review the information gathered for your eligibility decision, such as academic, medical, or psychological records to determine whether you have sufficient information for a complete picture of the consumer's disability-related functional limitations and impediments to employment.
If existing records do not provide adequate information, you may need to obtain additional assessments.
Seek additional psychological or medical examinations if necessary to gather further information about the consumer's condition and its
Seek vocational evaluations, functional capacity evaluations, or situational assessments if necessary to gather further information about the consumer's work capacities and capabilities.
*Ensure that assessments are provided in the most individualized and most integrated setting possible that is consistent with the consumer's informed choice.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.45(f)(2)(i)
During the process of evaluating consumer information, you might obtain new information that affects the consumer's disability classification. If necessary, update the classification in ReHabWorks. See Chapter 3: Eligibility, 3.8.4 Selecting a Disability Classification.
The employment goal may be *full-time or, if appropriate, part-time competitive integrated employment, supported employment, or any other type of employment in a competitive integrated setting, including self-employment, telecommuting, or business ownership* that is consistent with characteristics identified in the consumer assessment.
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.5(b)16
The employment goal is one that closely matches the consumer's current or potential key attributes and characteristics and meets the definition of “competitive integrated employment” as defined in Sections 7(5) and 12(c) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; 29 U.S.C. 705(5) and 709(c)).
To the extent necessary to select an appropriate employment goal, explore the consumer's
Depending on the individual consumer situation, the selection of an employment goal may be easily made. In other situations, it may be necessary to consider a broader range of employment goals by assessing, as appropriate,
When a consumer has a work history, explore his or her
For additional information about the consumer's condition and treatment and the condition's possible impact on employment, consult the Medical Disability Guidelines.
If the consumer wants to return to work with the same employer but is unable to return to the same position, determine whether the employer provides training opportunities so that the consumer can return to a different position. Do not pay for training if equivalent training, such as on-the-job training, is provided by the employer.
If the consumer chooses to work for another employer in a different job, use counseling and guidance to help him or her determine how current skills and work history can transfer to a different job. As needed, discuss job requirements and conditions, training, work environment and duties, local demand for workers, and the possibility of relocating to find employment.
When a consumer has no work history, begin the process of selecting an employment goal by investigating the consumer's pertinent
If the consumer has no ideas about what job he or she wants to do, you may identify possible employment outcomes by exploring
Explore with the consumer life circumstances that could impact his or her choice of employment goal so you can focus on occupations compatible with the consumer's unique situation.
If the consumer has religious or cultural beliefs that require adherence to a specific schedule, dress code, or other tradition, discuss occupations that accommodate these requirements and explain why others may not be appropriate. If the consumer chooses to wear long or loose clothing traditional in his or her culture, for example, explain that a job operating machinery with exposed moving parts would not be appropriate because there's potential for the clothing to be caught in the equipment.
If the consumer has ongoing responsibility for child care every afternoon, consider jobs that can be done in the early morning or evening, and options for split-shift work.
If the consumer reports a criminal history, explain that he or she may be barred from certain jobs requiring a license or other credential. If the consumer wants to pursue employment requiring a license or credential, obtain a criminal background check before committing to services on an IPE. You must check the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) website, Texas Department of State Health Services licensing and regulations website or other relevant credentialing board for information about which criminal convictions may prevent the consumer from obtaining a specific license. See also 4.3.2 Criminal Background Checks.
Each program has unique requirements for assessing, planning, and developing an IPE that are based on the
Review the appropriate program policy related to plan development (for example, Transition, Supported Employment).
Services may be provided before the IPE is developed when they are necessary for the consumer to participate in the assessment; for example, services that are not related to a specific employment goal such as providing eyeglasses, preparatory prosthetics, orthotics, or insulin and syringes.
Explaining and/or sharing assessment information with the consumer (and/or representative, if any) is a valuable service that may help the consumer better understand
*Avoid sharing directly with the consumer information that might be harmful.* If the consumer demands to see medical or psychological records considered harmful, make an appointment with the physician or psychologist who provided the report to review the information with the consumer.
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.38(c)(2)
Disclose medical and psychological records to the consumer (and/or representative, if any) only under the guidelines regarding release and confidentiality of consumer records in Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 20: Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information.
DARS has been granted authority (Texas Government Code, Section 411.117 and Texas Human Resources Code, Section 111.058) to obtain from the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) criminal background checks (CBC) on consumers for the purpose of vocational rehabilitation planning only. Use DARS1510, Request for Consumer Criminal Background Check (CBC) to request a CBC from TDPS. See the guidance document, Procedure for Requesting a Criminal Background Check (CBC).
If a consumer has reported to the counselor a history of felony conviction and difficulty in obtaining employment because of this history, it may be necessary to get a Criminal Background Check (CBC). This should done only at the consumer's request. The CBC would be used in planning for the possible use of Employment Service Criminal Background Premium job placement services.
If a consumer wants to work in an occupation that requires a license or other credential and he or she does not hold a valid license or credential for that occupation, you must obtain a CBC before signing the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). Provide the consumer with information about the impact of certain criminal offenses on whether the person will be eligible to obtain the required credentials to engage in specific employment outcomes.
If a consumer's CBC shows a criminal history and his or her chosen occupational goal is licensed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), you and the consumer must request a criminal history evaluation to determine whether the consumer's criminal history will prevent him or her from being licensed in that occupation. (See the TDLR Criminal History Evaluation Letter page for more information.) For occupations not licensed by TDLR, contact the appropriate licensing entity to determine if it is feasible for the consumer to be licensed. This should be a shared responsibility between you and the consumer.
Do NOT select as a vocational goal any occupation for which TDLR or any other licensing entity has determined that the consumer may not be licensed.
If the consumer or any other person or organization requests a copy of the CBC, refer to the Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 20: Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information:
Because the CBC report is critical to the decision-making process, it must be maintained as a permanent part of the consumer's case record. Once the CBC is received, all electronic copies of this record must be deleted permanently from your inbox and from your deleted messages box within 24 hours of receipt. Place the paper copy of the CBC in an envelope stamped "Confidential: not to be re-released" and seal the envelope. The envelope should be signed and dated. If there is a need to review the CBC after the envelope has been sealed, the CBC must be placed back into the same envelope, which is re-sealed, signed, and dated by the reviewer. A case note must be entered in ReHabWorks that explains the purpose of the CBC review.
CBC reports are often incomplete and difficult to interpret. For assistance, see the guidance document on interpreting CBCs, or consult your regional office CBC representative, your supervisor, and DARS Legal Services.
The steps below must be followed in documenting a CBC:
The Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) is the roadmap developed jointly by the consumer and the counselor to help the consumer reach a specific competitive, integrated employment goal.
*Develop the IPE with the consumer, or as appropriate, with the consumer's representative, in his or her native language or mode of communication. Inform the consumer of the available options for developing the IPE.
All or part of the consumer's IPE can be developed with direct assistance from a DARS counselor, by the individual (without any assistance), with assistance of a qualified counselor that is not employed by DARS, or with assistance, as appropriate, from a disability advocacy organization. The IPE must be approved by a DARS counselor and must include all required components (listed in this section), including specific and measurable intermediate goals.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.45(c)
DARS does not pay for assistance with IPE development.
*Work with the consumer to:
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.45(c)
As a part of developing the IPE, the counselor provides information so that the consumer:
The IPE must:
*The counselor must complete the IPE with the consumer as soon as possible, but no later than 90 days after the consumer has been determined eligible for services.
If the IPE cannot be completed within 90 days, the counselor must:
*Based on WIOA SEC. 413(b)(F)
All policies, timelines, and regulations related to IPE development, documentation, and amendments are applicable when working with students with disabilities and youth with disabilities. For more information about developing an IPE for transition and support services, refer to Chapter 10: Transition Services, 10.4 Providing Transition Services.
When the counselor and the consumer agree on the content of the IPE, they sign the electronic IPE in ReHabWorks (RHW).
A printed copy of the IPE and all IPE amendments must be provided to the consumer when the amendments are completed in RHW.
If RHW is not available, the counselor:
*At least every 12 months, the counselor:
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.45(d)
The counselor documents the joint annual review in a case note. The case note must include a specific review of all of the required elements of the IPE, including a review of the progress made towards reaching the employment goal.
If the IPE is amended, the counselor explains why the changes are necessary to allow the consumer to achieve his or her employment goal. For more information about IPE amendments, refer to 4.8 Amending the IPE.
If counseling and guidance are provided while completing the JAR or an IPE amendment, document the information in a separate case note. Refer to Chapter 5: Counseling and Guidance for additional information.
The person or persons developing the individualized plan for employment (IPE) must state the employment goal, as selected by the consumer and agreed to by a vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC), on the IPE specifically enough to be meaningful to the consumer, considering his or her level of vocational development. If necessary, state initial goals, particularly for transition students, in terms of a particular type of career or industry, such as Office Clerk-General (43-9061.00). Revise the goals later as the consumer focuses on specific employment goals. See O*NET/electronic search for industry categories.
If the assessment results in more than one appropriate choice, list the vocational objective that most closely reflects the consumer's interests and expectations for salary and benefits. As the case develops, amend the IPE if a different vocational objective is more appropriate. Do not use general vocational objectives such as "to be determined" or "competitive integrated employment."
If a consumer is interested in a vocational objective that requires a license, background check, or drug screening test, assess the ability of the consumer to meet those requirements before the IPE is completed and again when the consumer is ready for employment. Refer to 4.3.2 Criminal Background Checks for more information.
Each plan is unique and depends on the consumer's individual situation. The consumer must be involved in all decisions related to the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), to the extent of his or her abilities and interest. Provide enough information so that the consumer can make informed choices
The assessment of the consumer's identified rehabilitation needs and employment goal drives the selection and delivery of services that will help the consumer prepare for, enter, engage in, retain, or advance in competitive integrated employment.
Counseling and guidance must be included on every IPE as a planned service. For more information, refer to Chapter 5: Counseling and Guidance.
The IPE also may contain any of the following services that are reasonable and necessary for the consumer to reach the identified employment outcome. *Specific services available through the public vocational rehabilitation (VR) program include:
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.48(a)–(t)
Explain DARS' best-value purchasing guidelines to the consumer and the impact they may have on selection of goods and services necessary to achieve the employment goal. (See Chapter 17: Purchasing Goods and Services for Consumers, 17.3.2 Best Value Purchasing.)
You must provide each of these services in accordance with the policies that govern that service. Review these policies carefully before adding the service to the IPE to ensure that the consumer's unique rehabilitation needs can be met (see chapters 6 through 13 for more information on specific services).
*Services should be provided in the most integrated setting possible, and you may
The decision-making process should include deliberation of
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.52(c)(1-6)
Ensure that the dates on the IPE realistically reflect the anticipated start and end dates of each service. The duration of the plan should adequately support both the individual services and the eventual employment outcome.
If you have designated the consumer's disability as significant,
For further information, see Chapter 19: Technical Information and References, 19.2.2 Establishing the Significance of the Disability.
If the consumer chooses a provider outside Texas, you must take specific purchasing actions, as shown in the following table.
The service is ordinarily regulated in Texas.
The out-of-state provider also must be regulated.
You must consult with DRS MAPS Provider Services by emailing email@example.com to ensure that providers are properly credentialed before obligating state funds.
The service is ordinarily regulated in Texas, but is not regulated in the state where the service is provided.
You must make a best-value decision regarding the purchase.
If you think the purchase is reasonable and the service provider reflects the consumer's informed choice, you must submit the proposed purchase for approval by
The service provider is a Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP), but the standards in the other state are different from DRS standards.
You must get approval from the Area Manager after consult with CO (Central Office) program specialist for CRPs.
The purchase ordinarily requires a contract between DRS and the provider; for example hospital services or a wheelchair.
The medical service coordinator (MSC) coordinating hospital services or the counselor purchasing durable medical equipment must contact the DRS regional program specialist for quality assurance (RPS-QA) to negotiate a payment rate for the medical service. A DARS3423, Exception to Contracted Hospital Purchase must be completed and submitted through the regional director to the DRS assistant commissioner.
Note: Healthcare Cost Report Information System (HCRIS) payment rates noted on the DARS3423 do not apply to out-of-state hospital services, so the MSC must coordinate with the RCCS to develop an appropriate payment rate.
There is a contract in place between DRS and the out-of-state provider.
You must follow the contract's payment terms.
The consumer is responsible for costs that exceed in-state service costs.
Intermediate objectives are the rehabilitation steps that the consumer must achieve to overcome the impediments to employment identified during the assessment process, both before and after eligibility was determined. In creating intermediate objectives,
*The IPE should include the criteria used to evaluate the consumer's progress toward meeting planned goals. Describe these criteria on the plan clearly enough for both you and the consumer to understand the method of measurement.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.46 (a)(5)
The frequency of needed contact between the counselor and the consumer varies according to the
You and the consumer must discuss and plan for the activities required by each partner, including counseling and guidance goals, and agree on contact times that best support the plan.
You and the consumer agree to a frequency of contact that the consumer will maintain with you. Although the consumer is responsible for maintaining contact, you are responsible for providing sufficient support to the consumer to maintain this commitment.
Substantive consumer contact may be made by a VRC, RST, UPS, CCC or other staff member and occurs as often as necessary to timely move forward the consumer's program of services.
As in other partnerships, the IPE should clearly define roles and responsibilities of all partners. In the same way that you established the frequency of contact with the consumer based on the need for IPE support, you also should discuss other responsibilities. Review policies related to disability-specific responsibilities to ensure that the
*The role of the consumer is largely defined on the IPE and must be adequately described so that the consumer can follow through successfully. Specific activities or tasks the consumer is expected to perform must be objective and measurable (for example, acquire documented evidence of attendance at seven Alcoholics Anonymous meetings per week).*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.46(a)(6)
*Before you provide vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to a consumer, or a consumer's family member, determine whether comparable services and benefits exist under any other program and whether those services and benefits are available to the consumer. Use identified benefits or services first, unless such a determination would interrupt or delay:
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.53(a)
Comparable services and benefits do not include
If the consumer needs postsecondary training in order to reach the IPE goal, tell the consumer to apply for and use, if granted, support from the Federal Financial Student Aid Program. List on the IPE the consumer's responsibility for applying for and/or using those services.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a range of benefits available to veterans of the military, naval, and air services, and to certain members of their families. Among the benefits available to service-disabled veterans and their families are various types of financial assistance, including monthly cash payments, health care, housing benefits, and educational benefits.
In addition, additional resources for veterans are:
*Diagnostic services and rehabilitation technology, including hearing aids, sensory aids, and other technological aids and devices, do not require the use of comparable services and benefits.*
*Based on 34 CFR 361.53(b)(1) and 34 CFR 361.53(b)(5)
*While assessing the availability of or applying for comparable benefits, purchase services only when one or more of the following circumstances exists:
When a consumer is eligible for comparable benefits that are not yet available at the time needed to ensure the consumer's progress toward the employment goal, purchase those services until comparable services and benefits become available.*
*Based on 34 CFR Sections 361.53(a) and 361.53(c)
The exploration of and use of comparable services and benefits should be thoroughly documented through the case. This includes documentation in ReHabWorks
You should also keep copies of any documents related to approval or denial of comparable benefits in the consumer's paper case file.
The following comparable benefits selections can be selected to document the use of comparable benefits when you develop service records, IPEs, and Closure Services pages in ReHabWorks:
Determine the consumer's responsibility for the cost of services. A consumer's eligibility for VR services does not depend on the consumer's income or liquid assets. However, if the consumer's net income or liquid assets exceed basic living requirements (BLR), the consumer must participate in the cost of services, unless the
*Based on 34 CFR Sections 361.54(b)(3)(ii) and 361.54(b)(2), respectively
To determine whether a consumer must participate in the cost of services and his or her financial ability to do so, use the following four-step procedure.
When determining whether the consumer is required to participate in the cost of services,
See 4.6.2 Types of Income, Liquid Assets, and Required Proof and 4.6.3 Basic Living Requirements (BLR) for more information.
Consumers have the right not to disclose their financial information. However, when a consumer declines to provide this information, you must assume that the consumer has resources that exceed the BLR level after including any allowable BLR additions. In such a case, the consumer must fully participate in the cost of planned services, except those listed in 4.6.5 Services Exempt from Consumer Cost Participation.
When a person applies for services, request documented proof of
A person eligible for Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) need provide only proof of Social Security eligibility. The law exempts recipients of Social Security disability benefits from the requirement to participate in the cost of VR services regardless of income.
When a parent claims the consumer as a dependent on the parent's income tax, obtain proof of income and expenses from both the consumer and the consumer's parent.
For each month in which DRS pays for goods and/or services, the consumer must contribute the difference between the consumer's monthly net income and the BLR level after including any allowable BLR additions.
The consumer's contribution must not exceed the cost of the good and/or service.
For more information, refer to
*You must inform the consumer that failure to provide complete and accurate financial information
(*34 CFR Section 361.57, Texas Penal Code, Chapter 37 Perjury and Other Falsification)
You must, at least annually,
If the consumer's income, liquid assets, or expenses change significantly during the life of the case,
If you develop an IPE before you receive proof of income and expenses, do not include services that require consumer participation in the cost.
When you receive the proof of income and expenses, amend the IPE as needed.
The table below lists the types of income and corresponding proof required of the consumer, spouse, and parent (if the consumer is claimed as a dependent).
Net wages and net income from other enterprises
Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) received by consumer
None required for a consumer's Social Security disability benefits.
All other Social Security benefits (for example, survivors or retirement benefits received by consumer or consumer's spouse or parents, social security disability received by consumer's spouse or parents, etc.)
Child support payments received
Cash and assets from savings or other accounts.
ReHabWorks is designed to automatically calculate consumer participation based on
See the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines for the current fiscal year and DRS Basic Living Requirements tables.
ReHabWorks uses net monthly income and family size related to the poverty guidelines for the current fiscal year to determine the amount a consumer must contribute to the cost of services. This amount is a monthly amount but is applied only in months that a service or good is provided that requires participation in cost of services.
The total monthly costs of the allowable additions below are automatically added to the BLR when entered in ReHabWorks.
Monthly home mortgage or rental payments
Prescribed diets and medicines used by the consumer
Debts imposed by court order
*Medical costs and disability-related expenses.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.54(b)(2)
If feasible, a consumer participating in the cost of goods and/or services directly pays the service provider. If not feasible, arrange for the consumer to refund DRS by check or money order. For procedures, see Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 23: Accounting, 23.1 Cash Receipts.
The consumer may pay "in kind" for services listed on the IPE, for example, paying the additional cost of transportation to receive services, or paying for uniforms, textbooks, etc.
Review with the consumer the extent of his or her agreement to pay for the cost of services.
*Services exempt from consumer cost participation include
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.48(l) and 34 CFR Section 361.54(b)(3)(i)(A-G)
You must *apply this policy uniformly to all consumers in similar circumstances.*
Exception: Consumers eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) because of a disability are exempt from required cost participation. In addition, do not apply payment limitations (for example, tuition and fees) in these cases.
However, you must apply policy regarding use of comparable services and benefits.
*Based on 34 CRF Section 361.54(b)(2)(ii)
When helping a consumer make an informed choice about residing in an institution, including a nursing home, you must inform the consumer about any community support that may help him or her function in the most independent setting possible. Such support services vary by community.
By definition the following are considered institutional residency:
Texas state agencies that help consumers with community-based support services include
See the DRS Programs Web site for
Refer the consumer to these agencies and organizations as appropriate.
Amend the plan every time you and the consumer agree on a substantial change. Document the reasons for amending the IPE in ReHabWorks. Explain the nature and scope of the changes to objectives, services, or other parts of the plan and why they are necessary.
*Develop an IPE amendment for substantial changes or where there is potential for misunderstanding in
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.45(d)
A substantial change in employment goal means a change to the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) job family identified in the first two digits of the SOC code.
Use the IPE amendment in ReHabWorks. If the electronic version is not available, use DARS5159, DRS Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) Amendment—VR. As with the original IPE, the consumer may use alternate resources (for example, friends, family members, or private counselors) for the development process. *The IPE amendment is not in effect until you and the consumer agree to and sign it.* After agreeing on the IPE amendment, provide a copy to the consumer (or the consumer's representative, if any).
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.45(d)(7)
If the consumer cannot attend a meeting in person but agrees to an IPE amendment, write the amendment and follow the procedures in Chapter 2: Initial Contact and Application, 2.4.9 When DRS Staff May Enter a PIN on Behalf of a Consumer to electronically sign the amendment for the consumer.
*At least every 12 months, review the IPE with the consumer and update any information that has changed. Review the consumer's progress in achieving the employment goal and determine whether you must set additional intermediate goals or adjust existing goals. Review the consumer's responsibilities and adjust as necessary.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.45(d)
Document the joint annual review (JAR) in a case note. If the IPE was amended, explain how the changes are necessary to allow the consumer to achieve his or her employment goal.
Use an IPE amendment, DARS5159, DRS Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) Amendment—VR, when services after successful closure are necessary to *help the consumer maintain, regain, or advance in employment.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.5(b)(42)
Consider post-employment services when after successful closure the consumer
*Post-employment services may include
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.48(a–t)
Services may be provided by
You must mutually plan the program of post-employment services with the consumer. If post-employment services are
Close post-employment services when
When terminating post-employment services, document and place in the case file
Note in ReHabWorks whether the consumer is employed.
*If not on the original IPE, use an IPE amendment to describe the DRS services to be provided.* See Chapter 9: Employment Services, 9.4 Supported Employment Services.
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.46(b)
To amend the IPE for case closure, see Chapter 16: Closure, 16.2 Successful Closures, for information on using DARS5208, VR Successful Closure letter. DARS5208, VR Successful Closure letter is an IPE amendment.
The contents of this item are relocated to Chapter 3: Eligibility, 3.9.4 Developing a Pre-eligibility Trial Work Plan (TWP).
Consumers receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Security Income (SSI) based on disability must be given unique considerations during the vocational rehabilitation (VR) process as stated in 34 CFR 361.42.
*Consumers determined eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Security Income (SSI) based on disability:
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.42(a)(3)
*Consumers are eligible for SSDI or SSI based on disability if they demonstrate intent to achieve an employment outcome that is consistent with the applicant's unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests and informed choice. The applicant's completion of the application process demonstrates the intent to achieve an employment outcome.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.42(a)(4)
*Consumers determined eligible for SSDI or SSI based on disability cannot be determined ineligible for VR services unless clear and convincing evidence shows that the consumer cannot benefit from VR services. Pre-eligibility trial work experience must be used if there is a question regarding the consumer's ability to achieve an employment outcome.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.42(e)
If there is a need to further evaluate the consumer's ability to achieve an employment outcome, a Pre-eligibility Trial Work Plan must be completed on the day that benefits are verified. If benefits are verified and the consumer is not present to complete the Pre-eligibility Trial Work Plan, contact the consumer and schedule to complete this as soon as possible. Refer to Chapter 3: Eligibility, 3.9.4 Developing a Pre-eligibility Trial Work Plan (TWP) for more information.
When a consumer asserts eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Security Income (SSI) based on disability, but cannot provide evidence such as an award letter, verification must be obtained.
To verify eligibility for SSDI or SSI based on disability, consumers may:
If the consumer is unable to obtain verification through the options above, the counselor may contact DARS Social Security Administration Vocational Rehabilitation (SSAVR) for verification. However, information obtained through SSAVR may not provide enough evidence for presumptive eligibility because the information provided may not specify if disability is the basis for SSI eligibility.
SSAVR verifies benefits as a courtesy to vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs) when there is no other way to verify that the applicant is eligible for SSDI or SSI based on disability.
If you need assistance with this process, contact a benefits subject matter resource staff member.
*If you cannot obtain evidence of eligibility for SSDI or SSI based on disability within 60 days from the date of application for VR services, you may:
*Based on 34 CFR 361.41 (b)(1)(i)(ii)
*Consumers eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Security Income (SSI) based on disability cannot be required to participate in the cost of vocational rehabilitation (VR) services based on liquid income or resources exceeding the basic living requirements in 4.6 Consumer Participation in Cost of Services; this is the case regardless of a consumer's financial situation.*
However, the best value purchasing approach in Chapter 17: Purchasing, 17.5 Purchasing Goods for Consumers and the comparable benefits analysis under 4.5 Comparable Services and Benefits do apply to consumers eligible for SSDI or SSI based on disability.
*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.54(b)(3)(ii)
With appropriate consent forms, State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies and the Social Security Administration (SSA) or DARS Disability Determination Services (DDS) may exchange records about specific individuals.
Disability Determination Services (DDS) may request records for certain consumers as part of the disability determination process. The consumer's records can be released to DDS only after DRS receives:
For additional information on releasing consumer records and information, see BPM Chapter 20: Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information.
To obtain records from the Social Security Administration (SSA) office or Disability Determination Services (DDS), follow the procedure in Business Procedures Manual Chapter 20, 20.18 Release of Information between DDS and other DARS Divisions.
SSA should not charge for these records, as stated in the SSA Program Operations Manual Section DI 13510.030, Instructions for Providing Medical Information to State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agencies for VR Cost Reimbursement or Ticket to Work Program.
For medical records from DARS Disability Determination Services (DDS), complete SSA Form 3288, Social Security Administration Consent for Release of Information.
For records from the Social Security Administration (SSA) Local Field Office, complete DARS3310, DDS Request for Records and, for questions, review the SSA's description of records available to request.
Consumers can use federal work incentive programs to reach employment goals, earn a living wage, and achieve self-sufficiency. However, consumers need accurate information about how their earnings will impact cash and healthcare benefits.
Provide consumers with accurate information about Social Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and work incentives at the start of and throughout the vocational rehabilitation (VR) process. Providing consumers with accurate information about SSI and SSDI benefits will help you coordinate and provide services outlined in the consumer's individualized plan for employment (IPE).
Complete the steps below to incorporate benefits and work incentives planning supports and services into the VR process:
Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) programs, which are funded through a Social Security Administration (SSA) grant, employ individuals who are certified by SSA to provide consumers with accurate and thorough benefits and work incentives information.
Certain WIPA programs accept a fee for service from the Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS). WIPA programs accepting fees for service can serve consumers statewide, have short wait times, and all documents are shared with the referring vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC).
Benefits planning services can be purchased only from the following Social Security Administration grant funded Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) programs:
See a list of all WIPA programs.
To purchase WIPA benefits planning services, you must first determine if the consumer is eligible for SSDI or SSI based on disability. If the consumer has not been determined eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) based on disability. If the consumer is not eligible for SSDI or SSI based on disability, you may purchase assistance with applying for Medicaid Buy-In (MBI). This is the only service you may purchase under benefits planning for a consumer not receiving SSI and/or SSDI.
Once eligibility is established, purchase WIPA benefits services by following the process below:
Use the MAPS code "WIPA" in ReHabWorks when issuing a service authorization for any of these services.
If certain conditions are met, the Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) receives cost reimbursement from the Social Security Administration (SSA). When the SSA provides DRS with reimbursement, it is paying DRS for the cost of the services provided to consumers who are recipients of SSDI or SSI based on disability.
Cost reimbursement from SSA requires the consumer to meet the following criteria:
For a complete explanation of SSA VR cost reimbursement, see the SSA VR Reimbursement Program webpage.
The Ticket to Work Program (TTW) is a voluntary program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for consumers ages 18 to 64 who receive SSA disability benefits.
The program offers expanded options for:
TTW services are provided by employment networks (EN). All state vocational rehabilitation agencies are mandated through federal regulations to be ENs.
However, there are many private providers and organizations that are also ENs. See a complete list of ENs in the United States.
Inform each consumer receiving SSA disability benefits that developing an individualized plan for employment (IPE) with the Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) initiates ticket assignment under TTW, and that the consumer's:
DRS receives cost reimbursement (see 4.10.9 Social Security Administration Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Cost Reimbursement) from SSA only if a consumers' VR case is closed, and only if the consumer's TTW ticket is not assigned to another EN at the same time as the consumer is receiving DRS services
It is extremely important to check the consumer's ticket status at application. Use the following process to check the consumer's ticket status:
In some situations, the TTW's central office program specialist may identify consumers with tickets assigned to ENs. The vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs) assigned to those consumers' cases will be notified by email that the consumers' tickets are already assigned to an EN. If you receive this email, you must notify the consumer that the ticket is assigned and follow the procedures above.
The Social Security Administration's (SSA) Ticket to Work Partnership Plus Program allows DARS and a private Employment Network (EN) to partner to continue allowing the consumer to be exempt from the SSA's medical continuing disability review (MCDR) and to allow the EN to provide the consumer with ongoing job support services after the VR case's closure.
The TTW Partnership Plus Program should be considered at case closure when your consumer is:
To activate the TTW Partnership Plus Program, the consumer assigns his or her ticket to the new EN. For assistance with this process, contact the TTW's central office program specialist.
In addition to the regular Social Security Administration (SSA) ticket payments, Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs) which participate in the Ticket to Work (TTW) Partnership Plus Program are eligible for two Employment Network (EN) Employment Advancement Payments from DARS. The payments are only made after a consumer's vocational rehabilitation (VR) case is closed, and to issue a service authorization (SA) for these services, the VR case must be placed into post-closure status.
The Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP)-Employment Network (EN) provides services necessary for the consumer to retain and advance in employment to the point that the consumer can achieve one month of gross monthly pay that meets or exceeds substantial gainful activity (SGA) guidelines for the year in which the income was earned.
This payment is available only during the first 12 months after vocational rehabilitation (VR) case closure. For Supported Employment (SE) only, the CRP must be identified on the DARS1616, Job Stability or Service Closure Justification Summary as a primary provider and the long-term, needed support provided by the CRP must be outlined on the form.
The CRP-EN must notify the vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC) in writing at least 30 days before the CRP-EN anticipates that the consumer will achieve the required income level so that appropriate service authorizations may be issued.
The documents below are required as proof that the consumer's ticket is currently assigned to the Community Rehabilitation Program (CR)-Employment Network (EN) for which a service authorization is to be issued:
The first employment network (EN) employment advancement outcome is achieved when:
The first employment network (EN) employment advancement payment can be made no more than 12 months after vocational rehabilitation (VR) case closure.
Payment (see the DRS Standards for Providers Chapter 2: Standards for Work Readiness Services, 2.1 Fees) is made when the DARS counselor receives and approves
The Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP)-Employment Network (EN) provides services necessary for the consumer to retain and advance in employment to the point that the consumer can achieve 8 of 12 consecutive months of gross monthly pay that meets or exceeds 105 percent of SGA for the year in which the income was earned. This payment is available only during the first 18 months after the first EN Employment Advancement Payment.
The CRP-EN must notify the VR counselor in writing at least 30 days before the CRP-EN anticipates that the consumer will achieve the required income level so that appropriate service authorizations may be issued.
The documents below are required as proof that the consumer's ticket is currently assigned to the Community Rehabilitation Program (CR)-Employment Network (EN) for which a service authorization is to be issued:
The second employment network (EN) employment advancement outcome is achieved when:
The second employment network (EN) employment advancement payment can be made no more than 18 months after the first payment.
Payment for the second EN employment advancement (see the DRS Standards for Providers Chapter 2: Standards for Work Readiness Services, 2.1 Fees) is made when the DARS counselor receives and approves:
The Social Security Administration (SSA) conducts medical continuing disability reviews (MCDRs) to determine whether a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary or Social Security Insurance (SSI) recipient's disability continues. MCDRs are usually conducted based upon an established diary date set by SSA. The benefits planning query (BPQY) lists the next diary date set by SSA.
If an unfavorable decision is issued by SSA as a result of an MCDR, the individual is terminated from SSA benefits. SSA exempts certain individuals from MCDRs if they are participating in the Ticket to Work Program (TTW) or vocational rehabilitation (VR) services.
Once an individualized plan for employment (IPE) is signed, Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) operations staff members from the central office notify SSA that the consumer has an open case with DRS; SSA then sends a letter to the consumer to verify that he or she is receiving services from DRS. While a consumer has an open case with DRS, SSA assigns one of two ticket statuses: "In Use SVR" or "Not In Use SVR-FTPR."
Consumers with status "In Use SVR":
Consumers with status "Not In Use SVR-FTPR":
SSA will send a letter to the consumer if an MCDR is going to be initiated. If a consumer with an open VR case receives this notification, contact your DRS benefits subject matter resource staff member. The benefits subject matter resource staff member will work with central office program specialists to determine if the initiation of the MCDR was appropriate. If it was not, the central office program specialists will assist in requesting that the SSA stop the MCDR.
Section 301 payments are the continuation of SSI/ SSDI benefit payments and Medicaid/ Medicare after a medical continuing disability review (MCDR) is conducted and an unfavorable decision has been issued. The SSA has processes in place to identify potential Section 301 cases and to make Section 301 determinations on those cases.
Section 301 payments are authorized when the consumer:
Section 301 payments continue until one of the following occurs:
If a consumer has received an unfavorable decision as the result of an MCDR, the consumer might be eligible for continued cash payments and healthcare under Section 301. Advise the consumer to contact SSA to verify participation in DRS services and request a determination of eligibility for continuation of benefits under Section 301.
Veterans have unique vocational rehabilitation needs. Disabilities incurred or aggravated in line of duty in the active military, naval, or air service can hinder readjustment to civilian life. As the veteran population grows, the number of veterans who are blind, visually impaired, or hard of hearing is expected to increase.
Benefits through the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) are not universally available to veterans with disabilities due to geographic barriers or extensive waiting lists. In addition, veterans who have a non-service connected disability might not be eligible for the VA's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services (VR&E).
Regardless of their eligibility for VA services, consumers with disabilities may benefit from the DARS Vocational Rehabilitation program. The type of discharge from military, naval, or air service does not affect eligibility for DARS services. Providing services to veterans with disabilities is a priority for DARS. More veterans can benefit from DARS' services if they are aware of the services and how to access them.
If the veteran does receive services from VR&E, refer to the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between DARS and the VA (or review the accessible version of the Memorandum of Agreement). The MOA provides guidance about the referral and service delivery processes between the VA and DARS.
If you have questions about the MOA or need assistance in developing a relationship with the VA, contact the Central Office program specialist for veterans and behavioral health.
It is the applicant's choice to disclose his or her veteran's status. It is recommended that staff members, when interviewing applicants, ask if they have ever served in the active military, naval, or air service and if they were discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable, because some applicants may not know they are considered veterans.
In communicating with veterans, it is important to know key terms used by the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For a former service member to receive certain benefits from the VA, the person must be a veteran as defined in this section.
DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty—generally referred to as a "DD 214," this certificate is a document of the U.S. Department of Defense, issued upon a military service member's retirement, separation, or discharge from active-duty. A veteran may get a replacement DD Form 214 through:
Fax number: (314) 801-9195
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138
Service connected disability—a disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty in the active military, naval, or air service
Service-disabled veteran—a veteran with a disability that is service-connected
Veteran—a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. This includes a member of the National Guard or reserve components who is activated for federal military service and serves the full period of activation.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)—sometimes referred to as the Chapter 31 program, is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that provides services to eligible service members and veterans with service-connected disabilities to help them prepare for, secure, and maintain employment or achieve independence in daily living.
The basic period of eligibility in which VR&E benefits may be used is 12 years from the later of:
Depending on the length of program needed, veterans may be provided up to 48 months of full-time services or the part-time equivalent. Rehabilitation plans that provide services to improve independence in daily living only are limited to 30 months. These limitations may be extended in certain circumstances.