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Program Manual

2.0 - Assessment for Determining Eligibility for Services

2.1 - Basic Eligibility Requirements CFR 34 361.42 (a)(i)(ii)(iii) (Division Policy 2.16)

An assessment for determining eligibility must be conducted for each applicant in the most integrated setting (see definition) possible, consistent with the individual’s needs and informed choice. Determination of an applicant’s eligibility for Vocational Rehabilitation services must be based only on the following criteria:

NOTE: Any applicant who has been determined eligible for Social Security benefits under Title II or Title XVI of the Social Security Act is presumed eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. (CFR 34 361.42 3(A)

  1. A determination that the individual has a bilateral visual impairment.
  2. A determination that the individual’s visual impairment constitutes or results in a substantial impediment to employment (see definition).
  3. A presumption (as defined in Section 2.2) that the individual can benefit in terms of an employment outcome from the provision of Vocational Rehabilitation services.
  4. A determination that the applicant requires Vocational Rehabilitation services to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment consistent with his/her unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.

NOTE: Only a Rehabilitation Specialist, Supervisor, or District Administrator may make determinations of eligibility. Only eye reports from licensed ophthalmologists are acceptable to support eligibility determination. In the event that an eye report indicates that a bilateral visual impairment does not exist, a staffing must take place with the Rehabilitation Specialist or Supervisor and documented in AWARE. If an eye report has been received and it is clear that a bilateral visual impairment exists, then the Rehabilitation Technician will conduct a phone interview to initiate the initial interview process. The Rehabilitation Technician must assign the case to a Rehabilitation Specialist to complete the Initial Interview process and to ensure referral(s) to other agencies for appropriate and comparable services.

2.1.1 - Eligibility Determination Timeframe CFR 34 361.41 (b) (Division Policy 2.16)

Eligibility determinations must be made within 60 calendar days after the individual has submitted a signed application unless:  

  1. Exceptional and unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the agency preclude a determination within 60 calendar days and the individual agrees to a specific extension of time.
  2. An exploration of the individual’s abilities, capabilities, and capacity to perform in work situations or an extended evaluation is being conducted (see Sections 2.2.1 and 2.3).
  3. If eligibility cannot be determined then Eligibility Determination Extension in AWARE must be completed on or at the 60 day mark (if 60th day falls on a weekend or holiday, extension must be entered on the following working day).

NOTE: When exceptions to this time period are necessary, the case file should clearly document applicant involvement and agreement to a specific extension of time and the length of time agreed upon by the agency and the individual. This should be documented in the comment section of the Eligibility Determination Extension page in AWARE.

2.1.2 - Achievement of an Employment Outcome

Any eligible individual, including an individual whose eligibility for Vocational Rehabilitation services is based on the individual being eligible for Social Security benefits, (see Section 2.4) must intend to achieve an employment outcome that is consistent with his/her unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.

The Rehabilitation Technician and Rehabilitation Specialist are responsible for informing applicants that individuals who receive services under the Vocational Rehabilitation program must intend to achieve an employment outcome.

NOTE: The client’s completion of the application process for Vocational Rehabilitation services is sufficient evidence of his/her intent to achieve an employment outcome.  No additional demonstration of intent on the part of the applicant is required.

2.1.3 - Referrals Under 55

When DBS receives a referral from someone 54 and under who might want Independent Living services only, an interview must be conducted by the VR Rehabilitation Specialist or Supervisor, if the Specialist is unavailable, to assess for program appropriateness by using the following; DBS-260 Assessment Tool Client’s Under 55 which can be located in the S Drive/FORMS/Client Services forms.

If it is determined based on the assessment that the individual under age 55 is best served in VR, intake will proceed for the VR program.

If the tool indicates the individual would be better served in the ILAP program, the case will be presented to the Supervisor or DA for final approval and then referred to the ILAP program.

The VR Specialist will then notify the ILAP Specialist via email and attach the completed assessment tool to the email.  When the case is opened in ILAP, either by DBS or the CRP, the assessment tool must then be loaded into the AWARE Case Notes section and labeled “VR Assessment”.

NOTE: Exceptions to the above is if the client provides medical documentation that they are unable to work. 

2.2 - Presumption of Benefit CFR 34 361.42 a (iv)(2)(3)

It must be presumed that an applicant can benefit, in terms of an employment outcome, from vocational rehabilitation services unless it is demonstrated, based on clear and convincing evidence, that the applicant is incapable of benefiting in terms of an employment outcome due to the severity of the disability of the applicant.

2.2.1 - Trial Work Experiences (see definition)

In making the demonstration of clear and convincing evidence, an exploration must be conducted of the individual’s abilities, capabilities, and capacity to perform in realistic work situations. Such an exploration must involve the use of trial work experiences with appropriate supports provided by the Division. These include assistive technology devices and personal assistance services to accommodate the rehabilitation needs of the individual in an employment setting.  The work experiences must be of sufficient variety and over a sufficient period of time to:

  1. Determine that there is sufficient evidence that the individual can benefit from the provision of Vocational Rehabilitation services in terms of an employment outcome, OR
  2. Determine the existence of clear and convincing evidence that the individual is incapable of benefiting in terms of an employment outcome from Vocational Rehabilitation services due to the severity of his/her disability.

Trial work experiences may include Supported Employment (see definition), On-the-Job Training (see definition), and other experiences using realistic work settings (see section 7.11.2).

A Trial Work Plan must be developed to assess the individual’s capabilities and capacity to perform in work situations.  Such an assessment must be conducted in the most integrated setting possible, consistent with informed choice and the individual’s rehabilitation needs.

2.3 - Extended Evaluation for Individuals with Significant Disabilities (see Definition) CFR 361.42 (4f)

Under limited circumstances, if an individual cannot take advantage of trial work experiences or if options for trial work experiences have been exhausted, an Extended Evaluation must be conducted to make an eligibility determination.

During the Extended Evaluation period, Vocational Rehabilitation services must be provided in the most integrated setting possible, consistent with the informed choice and rehabilitation needs of the individual.

An Extended Evaluation Plan must be developed for the provision of services necessary to make an eligibility determination. Only those services necessary to make the determination should be provided.

2.4 - Presumption of Eligibility for Social Security Beneficiaries

Any applicant who has been determined eligible for Social Security benefits (SSI Disabled, SSI Blind, SSDI) under Title II or Title XVI of the Social Security Act is:

  1. Considered to be an individual with a significant disability (see definition).
  2. Presumed to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services (provided the individual intends to achieve an employment outcome consistent with his/her unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice).

NOTE: Submission of an application for vocational rehabilitation services constitutes an individual’s intent to work.

If an applicant asserts that he/she is eligible for Social Security benefits (SSI Disabled, SSI Blind, or SSDI), but is unable to provide appropriate evidence such as an award letter, the Rehabilitation Specialist must verify the applicant’s eligibility for Social Security benefits by contacting the Social Security Administration, directly or through State office.

Exceptions to this presumption of eligibility may be made only when it can be demonstrated with clear and convincing evidence that the individual is incapable of benefiting in terms of an employment outcome from Vocational Rehabilitation services due to the severity of his/her disability. This demonstration must be conducted as described in Secetion 2.2.1 or, as appropriate, Section 2.3.

2.5 - Prohibited Factors

No client will be found ineligible solely on the basis of the type of disability and eligibility determinations will be made without regard to:

  1. Age, gender, race, color, or national origin of the applicant.
  2. Type of expected employment outcome.
  3. Source of referral for Vocational Rehabilitation services.
  4. Particular service needs or anticipated cost of services required by an applicant or the income level of an applicant or an applicant’s family.
  5. Status of AIDS/HIV (Division Policy 8.1).

Clients are not required to be residents of the state of Florida to receive VR services. However, clients in the Vocational Rehabilitation program must have legal status in the United States with Green Card or Work Visa and be eligible to secure temporary or permanent work status.  Student visas will not be considered for Vocational Rehabilitation services. Transition aged individuals must be legal residents and eligible to secure permanent work status by age 18.

2.6 - Review and Assessment of Data for Eligibility Determination

Determination of each of the eligibility criteria must be based on:

  1. Observations by the Rehabilitation Specialist of client’s ability to ambulate, communicate, see printed material, etc.
  2. Education Records.
  3. Information provided by the individual or the individual’s family.
  4. Information used by the Social Security Administration.
  5. Determinations made by officials of other agencies.

NOTE: Existing data may be unavailable or inappropriate to describe the current functioning of the individual. In some cases additional data from the provision of Vocational Rehabilitation services, such as assistive technology devices, low vision evaluations and work site assessments may be necessary to determine whether an individual is eligible.

2.7 - Certificate of Eligibility

A Certificate of Eligibility (see Section 13.1) is required for each individual determined to be eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation services.  The certificate should be completed in the AWARE.  The CE/ED is generated when the data page is completed.  Once all of the information is entered print the CE/ED and then have it signed by the Rehabilitation Specialist does not have Independent Status.  A print copy should be included in the paper record of services.