What is the Vocational Rehabilitation Program?
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a program of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services which assists persons with significant physical or mental disabilities to prepare for, find or keep a job.
Who is served by the Vocational Rehabilitation Program?
The VR program serves eligible individuals who have physical and/or mental conditions which have a significant impact on their ability to enter or maintain employment. The VR program serves persons with all disabilities except legal blindness. Individuals who are legally blind receive vocational rehabilitation services through the Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB), 184 Windsor Ave., Windsor, CT 06095; (860) 602-4000 or 1-800-842-4510.
How do I know if the Vocational Rehabilitation Program can assist me?
Contact the BRS office closest to your home, or call 1-800-537-2549. You will talk to staff who can discuss your situation and answer your questions about vocational rehabilitation. Some BRS offices offer orientation sessions which provide more detailed information about the VR program. It is important to understand vocational rehabilitation before you apply for services.
How do I find out if I am eligible for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program?
If you apply for vocational rehabilitation, you will be asked to provide information about your medical condition and how it affects your ability to find and/or keep a job. With your vocational rehabilitation counselor, you will also review your employment and educational history. This and other information you provide will help your counselor determine if you are eligible for the VR program. To be eligible:
(1) you must have a disability, that is, you have a physical or mental condition which poses a substantial barrier to employment; AND
(2) you must require VR services to prepare for, find and succeed in employment, with a priority on a paid job in the competitive labor force.
When resources are limited, the law requires that BRS first provide services to persons with the most significant disabilities. This is called an Order of Selection. The significance of a person’s disability is determined by looking at the limitations caused by the disability, and the services the person needs as a result. If your disabilities are not considered "significant," you may not receive services, even though you meet the eligibility criteria above. Your VR counselor can give you more detailed information about how this decision is made.
If your counselor needs more specific information about your disability and its impact on your ability to work, you may be asked to participate in medical, psychiatric, psychological or other types of evaluations. If you are asked to have such tests, your counselor will explain why they are necessary, and BRS will pay for them.
Your counselor will tell you in writing whether or not you are eligible for vocational rehabilitation. If you are not eligible, you will be told why, and you will receive information on how you may appeal the decision, if you disagree with it.(See Client Assistance Program)
BRS tries to make the eligibility process as speedy and simple as possible. The law requires that your eligibility for VR be determined within 60 days. If this time frame must go beyond 60 days because important information needed to determine your eligibility is not readily available, your VR counselor will ask you to sign an agreement to extend the time period to determine your eligibility for services.
If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and want to work, you counselor may be able to determine your eligibility for VR services immediately.
What will happen to my disability benefits if I go to work?
What happens if I am eligible to receive vocational rehabilitation services?
If you are in a priority group that BRS is currently serving under the Order of Selection, you will work with your counselor to develop an Employment Plan which will assist you to find or keep a job. In developing this plan, you and your counselor will review your job interests as well as other factors you consider important in planning towards your employment. Together, you will work to agree on what your job goal is and what services you will need to reach it. If needed, BRS may provide vocational assessment and related services to assist you in deciding on your job goal and developing your Employment Plan.
What kinds of services can BRS provide?
BRS will provide services which you need in order to reach your vocational goal. Because your Employment Plan is tailored to meet your unique needs, these services vary from one person to another.
The services BRS may provide include:
* vocational counseling
* job search assistance
* skill training and career education in vocational and other schools
* on-the-job training in business and industry
* assistive technology services such as adaptive equipment for mobility, communication and specific work activities
* vehicle and home modifications
* supported employment services
* services to assist in restoring or improving a physical or mental condition
* services to help you access other services you need in order to meet the goals of your Employment Plan, such as transportation assistance
Who pays for Vocational Rehabilitation services?
Your counselor will explain the conditions under which BRS can pay for certain services. In some cases, BRS may contribute all or part of the cost of a service. You will work in partnership with your counselor to find other ways to pay for the services you need, including financial aid, medical insurance, and resources from you or your family.
Will BRS help me get a job?
When you and your vocational rehabilitation counselor decide that you are ready to find a job, your counselor will work with you to find employment. If necessary, your counselor will arrange for services to assist you in your job search.
Being successful in your job search will require effort and commitment on your part. Throughout this process, your counselor will be there to provide support, guidance and information. The goal is simple: your employment success.
Here are some of the services BRS may provide to help you find satisfactory employment:
• Job Seeking Skills (JSS) - JSS provides assistance with interviewing skills, resume writing and application techniques to help you prepare for your job search. JSS may be individual assistance or provided as part of a class.
• Individual Placement Assistance - Your counselor or another agency may help you identify local employers who might have job openings in your area of interest or advise you on interviewing and resume writing. If needed, arrangements can be made for someone to accompany you to interviews.
• Job Clubs - Job clubs are group sessions which provide information on current local job openings, follow-up with employers, and ongoing support.
• Transitional Employment Programs (TEP) - Transitional employment is a program to assist with training and performing on the job. In a TEP, a job coach would accompany you at your work site to help you with things like learning new skills, communicating with your boss, or improving your speed and accuracy.
• Situational Assessment - A situational assessment is an opportunity for you to try out a real job to determine if you are suited to a particular type of work. You are accompanied by a job coach, who will assist you to learn the job, and observe your performance. This assessment should last no more than 40 hours. The employer may offer you a job if you perform well during the assessment.
• Benefits Workshops - These are classes or individualized sessions that will assist you to understand the work incentives available to you if you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, or some other form of state or federal benefits. You will have the opportunity to learn how earned income will affect your benefits and you will be able to make an informed decision whether or not to pursue employment.
The Connecticut Department of Labor provides a variety of services which may assist you to pursue your employment goals. The Department’s one stop" job centers are located across the state. Information on DOL’s employment services is available by calling 1-888-CTWORKS, or on the web at www.ctdol.state.ct.us.
Once you are successfully employed, your counselor will keep in touch with you for at least 90 days, or longer, if necessary, to make sure your job is satisfactory. If you need assistance to retain your job, or to find another job in the same or related field, BRS may provide "post-employment" services. Usually these services are provided if a disability-related problem is affecting your work.
Will BRS pay for college?
Your Employment Plan is uniquely designed to meet your job goal. While college education is required for some types of employment, vocational skill training may be appropriate for other lines of work. If college training is needed in order to ensure your eventual employment success, it will be included in your Employment Plan.
If post-secondary education is a part of your Employment Plan, you will be required to apply for financial aid at the institution you plan to attend. By law, BRS may not pay for your program until other available resources—as identified by the financial aid office—are applied.
Your vocational rehabilitation counselor will help you move through the financial aid process at your college. You will be expected to assist with this process by meeting the financial aid deadlines established by the school, and by keeping records of your financial aid application.
What happens when I start working?
Your counselor will follow up with you for at least 90 days after you enter employment or complete the services which helped you keep your job. After these 90 days, if you are satisfied with the job and do not need further help, BRS will close your case as "successfully employed." You will receive a letter to confirm this, and you can discuss with your counselor any concerns you may have about your job.
What if I need services after my case is closed?
If you need help to keep your job, BRS can provide "post-employment services." If your needs are extensive, you may need a new
Employment Plan, and your case should be re-opened. You can ask to have your case with BRS reopened at any time. If your case is reopened, your eligibility for vocational rehabilitation will be determined again.
What is the Client Assistance Program?
The Client Assistance Program (CAP) is an independent advocacy program located at the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities. CAP provides advice, advocacy, and, if necessary, legal representation to individuals who have concerns about the services they are receiving from BRS, BESB, independent living centers, and other community rehabilitation programs. CAP is located at 60-B Weston St., Hartford, CT 06120; (860) 297-4326 or 1-800-842-7303.
Follow this link for office locations.
The Department of Social Services is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer, and offers its programs regardless of race, color, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, religion, age, sex, or marital status.
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this brochure is available upon request in large print, braille, or on audiocassette or computer diskette,
by calling 1-800-537-2549 (V);
(860) 424-4839 (TDD/TTY).