Table of Contents
Disability Rights Texas Handout
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The Vocational Rehabilitation System in Texas
The Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Program, (TWS-VR), provides vocational rehabilitation (VR) services in Texas. The vocational rehabilitation program provides services which help people who have disabilities prepare for, keep, or get a job.
Some of the services are:
- Evaluations and tests
- Medical services
- Counseling and guidance
- Work training (including college, technical schools, on-the-job training, etc.)
- Assistive technology services and devices to include; certain types of software, augmentative communication devices, etc.
- Interpreter services (if you are deaf or hard of hearing)
- Orientation and mobility training (if you have a visual disability)
- Supported employment (job coaches and other supports on a job)
- Transportation (to get to services)
- Personal assistance services (on- or off-the-job)
- Occupational licenses, tools and equipment
- Other services to reach a work goal.
A work goal usually is a job in the community, but sometimes a work goal is a job at home, such as self-employment. The employment can be full-time or part-time, and you should be paid at the minimum wage or above. If you want to work in a regular job in the community, that should be the first choice the VR agency helps you get.
How to Get VR Services
If you want to get VR services, you must call or go to a VR office and ask to meet with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. At the meeting you will fill out an application for services.
When you meet with the Counselor you should:
- Have your Social Security Number
- Bring any medical, psychological, or other reports you have
- Bring your Social Security Award letter, if you have one. Persons on Social Security Disability or Social Security Supplemental Income for disability are presumed eligible for services, but this does not create an entitlement to any VR services
- Tell what training or schools you have attended and any jobs you have had
- Explain your disability and how it makes it hard for you to work
- Tell how you want to be helped.
You should feel free to bring a representative, such as a family member, guardian, or friend, to assist you in applying for VR services.
Once you have completed an application for services, you will be asked to use a personal identification number (PIN). This serves as your signature on their computer system and on forms completed on their computer system.
The Counselor may be able to tell that you have a disability by meeting with you. Or you already may have documentation (reports from doctors, etc.) that explains your disability. The Counselor should use any reports you already have.
If the Counselor needs more information about your disability or assistive technology services or devices that may help you to work, the Counselor will send you for additional medical, psychological, or other evaluations, and they will pay for the evaluation. The results of these examinations and evaluations should be shared with you. If the Counselor does not think the results can be shared with you, you can have the results shared with you by your representative or the person who did the evaluation.
If you need assistive technology services or devices to help you perform well on the evaluation, VR must provide the necessary services or devices. The evaluation must consider whether you could work with the help of assistive technology or devices.
The results of the evaluation are used to identify services, assistive technology, and work that would be appropriate for you. Whatever services, assistive technology, and work goals are chosen, it is very important that:
- You are included in choosing them and the provider
- You understand what they are
- You feel comfortable with the choices
- You know that you can discuss them with your Counselor
Eligibility (Who Can Get VR Services):
You can get VR services if:
- You live in Texas
- You have a physical or mental disability, which is a substantial impediment to employment (keeps you from working in an appropriate job)
- It is presumed that you can work after you get VR services
- You require VR services to become employed
- You have a disability and you are working, but you might lose your job or are under-employed because of your disability
When you apply for VR services, the VR agency has 60 days to make an eligibility determination (decide if you will get VR services). If the Counselor cannot make that decision within 60 days, the Counselor must ask you for more time, or offer extended evaluation services.
Most people who have severe disabilities can benefit from VR services to reach a work goal.
Ineligibility (You Cannot Get VR Services):
You cannot receive VR services if:
- You do not live in Texas (ask for a referral to the VR agency in your own state),
- You do not have a disability,
- Your prognosis is poor and you are not expected to be able to go to work, or
- You do not need VR services to go to work.
If the Counselor thinks your disability is so severe that you would not benefit from VR services, you should be given a chance to show whether you can work. A trial work experience should be offered to you for that purpose.
If you are ineligible, the counselor should make that decision only after providing an opportunity for full consultation with you, or with your representative. You should get an explanation of the reason in writing, including the reason for the decision. You should be told how to appeal the ineligibility decision (what to do if you do not agree) and how to contact the Client Assistance Program (CAP).
If You Are Eligible For VR Services, This Is What To Expect:
When you are eligible for VR services, you may be asked to go for different types of evaluations so a work goal and services can be planned. This is called a comprehensive assessment. The assessments will help determine the services you will need on your Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). The services listed on the IPE should be based on your unique strengths, interests, resources, priorities, abilities, capabilities, and informed choice.
The IPE should include:
- Your work goal
- What services you will get
- Who will provide those services
- When you will get the services
- Whether you could benefit from assistive technology services or devices, and specify the services or devices
- How the services will be paid for (VR pays for some services; Medicare, Medicaid, or other benefits pay for some services; some services are free, like counseling and guidance by the Counselor)
- Your responsibilities and the agency’s responsibilities in implementing and completing the plan
- Your rights and responsibilities as a VR client (including how to contact CAP)
You may develop the IPE with assistance from a qualified Counselor employed by TWS-VR, or by a qualified Counselor who is not employed by the state, or a representative. The qualified Counselor employed by the state must approve and sign the IPE. You must also sign the IPE. It is very important that your decisions are included in the plan.
The IPE can be changed at any time. You should contact your Counselor regularly and let the Counselor know if you are having any problems with any services, your disability, or changes in your life that could affect your participation in VR services. The IPE must be updated at least once a year. You must receive a copy of the IPE.
The state VR agency may, under certain circumstances, require an eligible individual to help pay for services. However, the following services are available to all eligible individuals regardless of their financial resources without a fee or participation in the cost:
- Vocational counseling and guidance
- Referral services
- Job search and job placement services, job retention and follow up services
- Interpreter services to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing
- Reader services to individuals who are blind
- Personal assistant services
- Rehabilitation technology
Lastly, individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) should not be subjected to the economic criteria for the VR program.
When you complete the services listed on your IPE, your case will be closed. You should have reached your work goal and should have been working for at least 90 days. When your case is closed, you will be considered rehabilitated. You should get a letter from the Counselor explaining that your case will be closed, how you can continue to get help if you need it, and how to appeal a closure decision if you do not think your case should be closed. If you appeal the closure of your case or termination of a service planned on your IPE, services must be continued until an impartial hearing officer renders a decision.
What If You Have A Problem With VR Services?
Sometimes VR clients have problems or want another opinion about the VR system. Some common problems are:
- You are unable to get a meeting to apply for services
- You have not heard from your Counselor
- You do not understand why the Counselor is asking for certain information
- You are not given information from your case record
- You have been found ineligible for VR services
- You were not included in developing the IPE
- You are not happy with services you are getting
- You want a different work goal
- Your case has been closed but you want it open
What You Can Do About Your Problem:
Find out your rights. Get a copy of the Client Appeal Process. Know how to contact the Client Assistance Program (CAP).
Talk to your Counselor. Let your Counselor know how you feel, what your problem is, and how you would like it solved. Talk on the phone or have a meeting in person.
Put your concern in writing. Send a letter to your Counselor listing your problems, and ask for an answer in writing.
You can ask to talk with your Counselor’s supervisor (boss).
Keep records. Take notes on your conversations with your Counselor or other VR staff (include dates, who you spoke to, what the problem was, how it went). Keep copies of any letters you send to VR staff. Keep copies of any VR Case Records you have requested.
Contact the Client Assistance Program (CAP) which can:
- Help you understand and apply for VR services
- Help you understand and exercise your employment rights under the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Refer you to other agencies and resources
- Advise you about ways to resolve conflicts with VR
- Assist you to negotiate with VR
- Assist you with an appeal
- Provide legal assistance, as appropriate
Always remember that your success in the VR system depends upon your relationship with your Counselor. Trust, open communication, a shared belief in your ability to work, and mutual respect are very important. The Counselor is there to help you understand your disability and identify ways to gather the supports, skills, information, and opportunities you need to reach your desired level of integration, participation, and employment in the community of your choice. The Rehabilitation Act echoes the values of the ADA, by noting that… disability is a natural part of the human experience.
People with disabilities have a right to:
- Live independently
- Enjoy self-determination
- Make choices
- Contribute to society
- Pursue meaningful careers, and
- Enjoy full integration in American society
Last updated: September 30, 2018
Publication Code: EM3
Disclaimer: Disability Rights Texas strives to update its materials on an annual basis, and this handout is based upon the law at the time it was written. The law changes frequently and is subject to various interpretations by different courts. Future changes in the law may make some information in this handout inaccurate.
The handout is not intended to and does not replace an attorney’s advice or assistance based on your particular situation.