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Policy Questions


Must a customer sign the fna if they are on SSI/SSDI and we have documentation?

For an individual who is on SSI/SSDI as a result of a disability you would need to complete section I of the Financial Need Assessment

From the: Directions for filling out FNA forms

  • I. If a customer is receiving SSI/SSDI (Social Security Disability Benefits), APTD, or TANF, he or she is automatically qualified for financial assistance. An agency representative's signature is required at this time.

There is no need to go beyond section I. The requirements are an agency representative ascertains that the individual meets the qualifications, i.e., verifies that the individual is receiving SSI/SSDI disability benefits (or APTD or TANF). There is no customer signature line in this section, or a requirement for customer to sign the form.

Regulatory basis

Sec. 361.54 Participation of individuals in cost of services based on financial need. 361.54(b)(3) The designated State unit may not apply a financial needs test, or require the financial participation of the individual - (ii): As a condition for furnishing any vocational rehabilitation service if the individual in need of the service has been determined eligible for Social Security benefits under Titles II or XVI of the Social Security Act.

Eligibility and Illegal/undocumented aliens

Just met with a young man who speaks only Spanish. The man did not have a social security number. He appears to be an illegal alien from El Salvador. I looked in the policy manual and could not find anything that says one way or the other if we can help this person. Do you have any information in terms of legal resident status and how that impacts our ability to help this individual?

We have looked at this question several different ways and at different times have come up with different ways to address this issue, but basically - we cannot provide VR services to someone who cannot legally work. The easiest way to do this is to explain VR services and eligibility to the individual and if they decide not to pursue it after that, then to close them 08 for not wishing to continue - if they wish to continue application, then the person really needs to be able to work legally in the U.S. in order to be eligible for services - someone who is an undocumented or illegal alien does not meet our eligibility criteria, specifically they would not be able to benefit in terms of an employment outcome from the provision of vr services. In this case we would document that vr services would not assist the individual gain work as they are not able to work in the U.S. The Diversity committee has been looking into this issue and is working on a protocol sheet' to assist counselors when this question comes up.

Undocumented Alien - Workers Comp Services

The reason why I am writing you is that I recently had an intake with a gentleman who has no legal documentation of working in the U.S. He however, has a workmen's compensation for an accident that happened in 2006 from a law firm in Massachusetts.

It's ironic that that a law firm is providing W/C litigation for an individual who does not have proper employment identification to work, but VR can't provide any support services for this person because he is an illegal alien.

This has been a legal issue for a number of years. Apparently state workers comp laws supersede the federal laws in these cases, so an individual who was working (whether it be legally or illegally) in a state that does not expressly prohibit coverage to these workers or uses broad definitions can provide workers comp coverage (and this may be limited/ prohibited depending on the case law in an individual state). There is quite a bit of case law on the subject and different states have handled it in different ways (some states have laws that specifically include these workers, a few have laws that specifically exclude and it appears that most states do not specifically include or exclude, but have a broad definition of covered workers that doesn't identify any particular exemption/inclusion based on undocumented status).

Regardless of how an injured worker is handled, an individual who is an illegal or undocumented alien cannot benefit from VR services in terms of an employment outcome as they are unable to legally work in the U.S.

Working at sub-minimum wage

I was anticipating a closure and found out that the individuals current wages at his job are less then what the national and state minimum wages are. He is working at a facility for individuals who have disabilities and was obtained by an area agency. My question is: Is there a sub-minimal wage form that VR can use specifically for this type of scenario?

I am assuming that if the individual is working at less than the minimum wage that he/she is doing so under the a wage certificate. Wage certificates are governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act and allow for less than minimum wage to be paid to individuals whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, including those related to age or injury, for the work to be performed. Employment at less than the minimum wage is authorized to prevent curtailment of opportunities for employment. Such employment is permitted only under certificates issued by Wage-Hour.

(The Fair Labor Standards Act - Section 14(c) does not apply unless the disability actually impairs the worker's earning or productive capacity for the work being performed.)

In this case you would document that the individual was being paid in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act -- The wage certificate documents that the individual is being paid commensurate with others doing like work because to obtain the special minimum wages (allowed by the certificate) the employer must demonstrate that the wages are based on the worker's individual productivity, no matter how limited, in proportion to the wage and productivity of experienced workers who do not have disabilities performing essentially the same type, quality, and quantity of work in the geographic area from which the labor force of the community is drawn. At closure you would also want to let the individual know that because they are being closed in an employment situation that is compensated for at less than minimum in accordance with section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, that they will have the opportunity to review that this situation continues to be an appropriate for them in a year (i.e., is consistent with an individual's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice). Reference: 34 CFR 361.47(a)(10): In the event an individual achieves an employment outcome in which the individual is compensated in accordance with section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act or the designated State unit closes the record of services of an individual in extended employment on the basis that the individual is unable to achieve an employment outcome consistent with Sec. 361.5(b)(16) or that an eligible individual through informed choice chooses to remain in extended employment, documentation of the results of the annual reviews required under Sec. 361.55, of the individual's input into those reviews, and of the individual's or, if appropriate, the individual's representative's acknowledgment that those reviews were conducted. You need to be sure that the individual is working in such situation that meets the employment outcome criteria: Employment outcome means, with respect to an individual, entering or retaining full-time or, if appropriate, part-time competitive employment, as defined in Sec. 361.5(b)(11), in the integrated labor market, supported employment, or any other type of employment in an integrated setting, including self-employment, telecommuting, or business ownership, that is consistent with an individual's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.

Please note: If the individual is working in a sheltered or extended employment environment that this is not an appropriate successful rehabilitation for the Agency. In fact, the Agency is not permitted to support that employment as a vocational goal and VR money should not be used to support this type of vocational outcome. While it is true that employment in a sheltered setting is a legitimate and valuable employment option for individuals with disabilities. Individuals who choose to pursue long-term extended employment must do so outside of the VR program, and the regulations ensure that those individuals' needs are met by requiring the VR agency to make the necessary referral to local extended employment providers. Extended Employment means work in a non-integrated or sheltered setting for a public or private non-profit agency or organization that provides compensation in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

I have included below some links for more info on the Fair Labor Standards Act for reference.

Sub minimum Wage Provisions - The FLSA provides for the employment of certain individuals at wage rates below the statutory minimum. Such individuals include student-learners (vocational education students), as well as full-time students in retail or service establishments, agriculture, or institutions of higher education. Also included are individuals whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, including those related to age or injury, for the work to be performed. Employment at less than the minimum wage is authorized to prevent curtailment of opportunities for employment. Such employment is permitted only under certificates issued by Wage-Hour.

Status 24

What is Status 24 used for?

Basically status 24 is used whenever the IPE is interrupted or is no longer the plan that is being supported by both parties and there needs to be some time, or activity, which may include assessment services, before a new or revised plan can be put into place. Status 24 allows you to break off services from the current plan and take time to evaluate what steps and activities are needed to identify the individual's current status, desired employment outcome and the nature and scope of VR services needed to meet that employment outcome.

Below is the section of the case practice guide re: status 24

Post Employment Services

Is there a time limit on how long after a person is 26'ed that we can re-open the case in status 32 and provide services related to keeping the job? I have a person closed 26 on 7/22/04 and she needs a computer course.

There a no time limit on how long after a person has achieved an employment outcome that post employment services can be provided as long as the services are provided to assist the individual remain at (or obtain a job) that is consistent with their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. The deciding point as to whether the individual is appropriate for post employment services is that their rehabilitation needs at this point are limited in scope and duration and do not require complex and comprehensive provision of services which would/should be better provided for in a new rehabilitation plan / new opened case. Below is the regulatory definition for post employment services.

26 Closure

I have an individual who lost his job on the 90 90th day. Do I take the closure and reopen or have the 26 reversed and just start job searching again?

For an individual to be a closed as achieving an employment outcome they need to have maintained employment not less than 90 days to ensure the stability of the employment outcome, and to assure that the individual no longer needs vocational rehabilitation services. If on the 90th day of employment an individual loses their employment and they continue to need VR services, then they do not meet the criteria for a successful closure.

  • Relevant policy: 2.17
  • Relevant regulation: 34 CFR 361.56

Reading Free Vocational Interest Inventory (RFVII)

I read this and wonder who administers the RFVII. Under comment it sounds like we are doing this in-house. I need to know the contact.

The Reading Free Vocational Interest Inventory 2 is below for your info. I did ask Sue Emery for some information as she does use it out in Portsmouth (her comments and excerpts from the manual are below). I am not sure who else is using this assessment tool at this time. If you have any questions or need additional info, please let me know. Thanks. Ella

The Reading Free Vocational Interest Inventory 2 is published by Harcourt Assessment in Texas . It is a pencil and paper test that takes about 20 minutes to administer (avg) and is hand scorable. It can be administered by teachers, psychologists, counselors, or other vocational and educational personnel.

The RFVII 2 provides a non-verbal method to help identify areas or patterns of vocational interests. It uses pictures of individuals engaged in different occupations to measure the vocational likes and dislikes of students and adults who do not read.

From the manual: This is a non-reading vocational preference inventory for use with individuals with mental retardation, learning disabilities, the disadvantaged, and regular classroom students. The pictorial nature circumvents the decoding and reading comprehension barrier for those individuals with limited verbal or reading ability.

From Sue E. who uses it in PRO: I use it primarily with MR or more severe LD, as the occupations covered are more basic, though some are average skill or higher. For the full range of occupations I use the WRIOT.

Although it technically takes 20 minutes, I find 30-40 is more typical with the types of individuals with whom I use it. With those who are more limited cognitively I sit with them to be certain they look at all three pictures before choosing one.

From the manual: It is suitable for subjects from 12-61 years of age. It should be administered by someone who has knowledge of guidance and counseling practices and is trained in test and measurement issues, or by someone trained and supervised by such an individual.

From Sue E. who uses it in PRO: It is important to read the manual before administering it, as there are considerations discussed pertinent to certain groups, such as those from foreign countries.

More information about the test can be found online at Acrobat Reader(page 185)

Note: If an office is interested in using this, they should have their own equipment-manual and booklets. Elaine Fournier may be able to order this for them out of evaluation monies, or tell them where to order it out of office monies.

Release of Information Forms (VR-43, VR-44 and VR-45)

I have 3 waivers for Release of Information in my desk. I have a VR-43, VR-44 and a VR-45. They all appear to be used for the same reason - to release information to the client. Can you advise?

The VR 42 - 45 series is our old release of information forms

  • VR-42 Confidentiality Representation - allows the customer to assign a representative who has access to their confidential information
  • VR-43 Confidentiality Assurance - identifies the information to be released and the purpose for the release
  • VR-44 Confidentiality Release of Information - release of information waiver for a customer who is their own legal guardian
  • VR-44PG Release of Info Waiver (parent/guardian) - release of information for a customer who has a parent or legal guardian
  • VR-45 Waiver of Confidentiality for Data Source - pertains to re-releasing information received from an outside source

These forms are to be used in conjunction depending on the need - examples

  • If the customer is looking for information to be released to themselves or another party, either the VR-44 or VR-44PG would be completed along with the VR-43 which identifies the information to be released and the purpose for the release.
  • If the customer wished to assign a representative the VR42 would be completed along with the VR-43, if information was to be released the VR-44 (or VR-44pg, if appropriate) would be completed.
  • The VR-45 was used in cases where we were re-releasing information we obtained from another source - documentation that the data source was aware of the release of information that they provided to us. In this case the VR-44 and VR-43 would be completed and signed by the customer and the VR-45 sent to the data source to obtain authorization for the re-release

We have not officially discontinued use of these forms, so you could use them for gathering the necessary release information from a customer - note these forms, if used should be notarized to be completed appropriately.

The VR2-2 is set up to do this (except for the re-release from a data source which when we have to go to the data source we typically note in the case notes the conditions under which they allow re-release and follow their procedures if they have such in place).

Services Interrupted status 24 continued

A customer is placed in this status if services are interrupted while the customer is in one of the statuses 14, 16,18, 20, 22. Such cases are held in this status until the customer returns to one of the active statuses or until the case is closed. Diagnostic/assessment services may be provided in this status if it is determined such services are necessary.

Additional Guidance

  • Case Management System (CMS) Actions
    • Customer moved to status 24 in CMS

Case Notes

  • Case notes should reflect activities to move customer into active status (diagnostic, treatment, career exploration, etc.)

Case File

  • An IPE amendment describing the interruption of the process should be completed and signed and dated by the customer and the counselor
  • Notification of Rights and CAP
  • An IPE amendment is needed when the customer returns to an active status (14, 16, 18, 20, 22) or is closed from this status (28).

(42) Post-employment services means one or more of the services identified in Sec. 361.48 that are provided subsequent to the achievement of an employment outcome and that are necessary for an individual to maintain, regain, or advance in employment, consistent with the individual's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.

Note to paragraph (b)(42): Post-employment services are intended to ensure that the employment outcome remains consistent with the individual's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. These services are available to meet rehabilitation needs that do not require a complex and comprehensive provision of services and, thus, should be limited in scope and duration. If more comprehensive services are required, then a new rehabilitation effort should be considered. Post- employment services are to be provided under an amended individualized plan for employment; thus, a re-determination of eligibility is not required. The provision of post-employment services is subject to the same requirements in this part as the provision of any other vocational rehabilitation service. Post- employment services are available to assist an individual to maintain employment, e.g., the individual's employment is jeopardized because of conflicts with supervisors or co-workers, and the individual needs mental health services and counseling to maintain the employment; to regain employment, e.g., the individual's job is eliminated through reorganization and new placement services are needed; and to advance in employment, e.g., the employment is no longer consistent with the individual's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.

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