Vocational Rehabilitation

Thursday, May 10th, 2013

The staff of M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC is committed to providing quality, concise information to families and individuals with special needs. Recently, as a part of that commitment, we updated the Special Needs Resources section of our website to include Vocational Rehabilitation resources. In light of this update, we decided to revisit the Vocational Rehabilitation program and provide a more in depth discussion of what the program is, the services it can provide, and how you and your family member with special needs can access these services. (Note: please visit Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment to read an earlier post on this topic.)


What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) was developed as a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was put in place to combat discrimination against people with disabilities in the United States. This discrimination “arose from negative attitudes in regard to the ability of individuals with disabilities to be effective employees, as well as physical barriers at work facilities.[1]” The Vocational Rehabilitation program provides services to individuals with disabilities to help them find, obtain, and maintain employment.


What are the services offered under the Vocational Rehabilitation Program?
All services offered under Vocational Rehabilitation are aimed towards achieving the primary goal of the program: to help individuals with disabilities obtain employment. As such, once the individual is deemed eligible, the program offers services such as vocational assessment and counseling, provides guidance as to the development of the Individualized Plan for Employment, and offers job related and post employment services.

Eligibility Requirements: Federal eligibility requirements state that in order to be eligible for the VR program, a person must have a mental or physical disability which constitutes a significant barrier to employment, can benefit from VR services to achieve an employment outcome, and requires VR services to prepare for, secure, retain or regain employment. 

Vocational Assessment and Counseling: After an individual has been deemed eligible for the program, he or she will work with a vocational counselor to identify job interests, skills, aptitudes, etc. The counselor will also determine which services the individual needs, and make any necessary referrals to other agencies. As a part of this process, the individual will ultimately identify and clarify career goals, and will begin the process of completing the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).

Individualized Plan for Employment: The IPE is an individual plan of the steps necessary for an individual to obtain employment. It will include the individual’s employment goals and a description of the services needed for the individual to work (examples of these services include job training, supported employment, job coaching, tutoring, etc.). The plan also identifies who will provide and pay for those services, how the individual will progress towards employment, the responsibilities of the vocational rehabilitation counselor, and the responsibilities of the individual seeking employment.

Job Related Services: These services include assisting individuals with the job search and job placement services. The vocational rehabilitation counselor will work with individuals to help them identify, search, and apply for jobs that meet their employment goals. 

Post-Employment Services: The VR program will offer support, advocacy, and follow up services for 90 days after an individual has gained employment. After 90 days of maintaining employment an individual’s case is considered successfully closed. An individual and his or her counselor may identify services needed to keep the job, however. These services will have been identified in the IPE. An individual may also be eligible to receive services up to three years after the job placement, even if the case has been closed. These services are short term, and directly related to helping an individual keep the job. In this case, an amendment or addition to the IPE may be necessary.


How can I access these services?

Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and services are available in every state but they may be offered in different ways, or under different names.  A complete listing of the different Vocational Rehabilitation agencies for every state can be found by visiting the Job Accommodation website.

The Client Assistance Program is another avenue to explore for those who may be having trouble receiving Vocational Rehabilitation services. This program, often referred to as CAP, is a non-profit program that offers advocacy services and information about individual’s rights as vocational rehabilitation clients. CAP is available in every state. To find the CAP agency for your state, please visit the ICDRI website.

In many states, the services offered under Vocational Rehabilitation are offered without cost. Some states may require a statement of financial need, however, and depending on the available financial resources you may be required to pay for some services. As well, when states do not have enough funding to cover everyone wishing to participate in the program, they may operate on an “order of selection” basis, meaning that individuals with the most significant disabilities will be served first.


Vocational Rehabilitation and Transitioning
Vocational Rehabilitation is sometimes offered as a part of the transition process that students undergo as they prepare to leave high school to enter the world of post secondary education and employment.  If you would like to learn more about transitioning and vocational rehabilitation, please read our blog titled Transitioning: A Summary.

If you have any questions about Vocational Rehabilitation, or any other topic pertaining to special needs planning please do not hesitate to contact us – and don’t forget to check out the new Vocational Rehabilitation resource page. On this page, we have listed a number of resources that can help you and your family member with special needs learn about the program and access the services available in your state.

As well, we offer a workshop titled Transitioning Planning & a Discussion of Post Secondary Options that covers the transitioning process, and includes a discussion of topics such as Vocational Rehabilitation, supported employment, and post secondary options. Please give us a call if you would like more information about this workshop, or if you would like for us to present it in a venue of your choice. We are willing to travel.


Thanks for dropping by our blog today; we hope that you found it informative and helpful. Happy Thursday!



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