The Steps to Using Vocational Rehabilitation
The VR process is a series of steps that will help you prepare for, keep or start a job based on your interests and abilities.
Steps to Using Vocational Rehabilitation to Prepare for, Keep or Start a Job
Apply for Services
Any person who has disability can apply for VR services. Once you have decided that VR is right for you, and that you want to keep or start working, VR staff will help you apply for services.
Your counselor will help you learn how your disability affects your ability to keep or start a job. The counselor needs to learn whether you are eligible for VR services that will help you go to work. You can help your counselor decide by bringing information from doctors, schools, jobs or other people who know about you. If you do not have current information, your counselor will help you get needed evaluations at no cost to you.
- You have the right to a decision about your eligibility within 60 days.
- If something unexpected happens, you and your counselor can agree that more time is needed.
- If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because you have a disability, you are eligible for VR services that may lead to a job.
Possible Wait List Category
After your VR counselor determines you are eligible for services, they will look at how much your disability affects your ability to work and the services you may need to become employed. Based on this information, your counselor will decide whether you are:
- A person with the most significant disability (Category 1);
- A person with a significant disability (Category 2), or
- A person with a disability (Category 3).
When VR does not have enough money or staff to help everyone who is eligible for services, VR prioritizes assistance based on the significance of disability (Order of Selection). VR helps people with the most significant disabilities first. Second are people with significant disabilities. Third are people who do not fit into one of these two categories. Depending on the category you are assigned, you may be put on a waiting list for services. Your category is determined based on services you might need in order to obtain and maintain a job, and for how long those services might be needed. The cause of your disability is not included.
VR also provides information and referral to other agencies that may help you. If you are on a wait list and your life or job changes, then contact your counselor to decide if you need to be assigned to a different category. The VR process continues if you are not put on a wait list or when your time on the wait list ends.
Write Your Individualized Plan for Employment
Your counselor will help you write your Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). Your IPE will include:
- The job goal that you and your counselor agree on;
- VR services that you will receive;
- Things you will do to get ready to go to work; and,
- The amount of money you will contribute for your services, if any.
A signed copy of the IPE will be given for you to keep. The IPE will be explained to you in your native language or any other mode of communications.
Your counselor can help you develop all or part of your IPE. If you choose to develop your own IPE, your counselor will tell you what you need to do to develop your plan. You and your counselor must agree and sign your plan.
- Your counselor must work to finish your IPE as soon as possible, but no longer than 90 days.
- If finishing the IPE takes more than 90 days, time can be added.
- VR is required to look at the income of eligible individuals to find out if they must share the cost of some VR services (Financial Participation).
- A person with no income or those who receive SSDI or SSI do not have to pay for VR services.
- Some VR services are free. VR will never make you pay for services needed to make a decision about eligibility.
- Your VR counselor will talk to you about how financial participation may effect you during your first visit. If you do not provide your VR counselor your financial information, you will not be able to receive many VR services.
Participate in Services to Get Ready for Work
VR can help you improve your ability to get and keep a job. Some VR services are delivered by your counselor (Guidance and Counseling). Other services are delivered by vendors (e.g., job coaches, psychologists, schools, stores). Some complex, disability-related services are delivered by specific service providers (e.g., on-the-job and work readiness training, Pre-ETS and job placement services). You are responsible for participating in the services you agree to in your IPE.
When you are ready to work, your counselor and/or a service provider will work together with you to:
- Help you find available jobs in your community that match your IPE employment goal.
- Give you ideas and advice on how to fill out applications and interview for the jobs you want.
- Work with your employer to change the job site and provide assistive devices to meet your needs, if necessary.
After you begin work, your counselor will continue to make sure that you and your employer have everything you need to do well. If you have problems on the job, contact your VR counselor. More services can be provided to help you keep working.
After you have worked on your job for at least 90 days, you and your counselor will discuss ending VR help. During this discussion, you and your counselor must agree that you no longer need VR services to keep your job. If you need help to keep your job in the future, you should contact VR for additional services.