Vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs are state run, federally funded programs that offer a way for people with mental and physical disabilities to get the help they need to become more independent and to go back to work.
To qualify for federally funded vocational rehabilitation, you must:
If you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you will automatically be eligible for VR unless your disability is so severe that you won't be benefit by being a part of a VR program.
To apply for VR services, contact the agency in your state that administers the program. Some states's department of vocational rehabilitation falls under the health and human services agency, while others' comes under the department of education.) You can find a complete state-by-state list of VR agencies and their contact information here. Also, your local Social Security field office can help you find the closest voc rehab office in your state.
Here are some of the services that vocational rehabilitation can offer you:
The law requires state agencies to offer at least those services described above, though your state may offer additional services.
VR programs and counselors can help you if you want to start your own small business. For example, they can help you conduct a market analysis and develop a business plan.
If you want to go back to school, you may be eligible for a scholarship from the college or university you attend. However, if you accept a VR scholarship, you are required to work for a public rehabilitation agency two years for every one year of full-time scholarship money you get. To get information or an application for a voc rehab scholarship, contact your school's financial aid department.
Here is a list of programs that are eligible for VR scholarships:
If you are enrolled in a VR program, the SSA will not review your eligibility based on the medical requirements for disability, but any earnings you make may still affect your eligibility or benefit amount. However, the SSA has work incentive programs that can help minimize any potential impact your return to work has on your benefits, through what is called the Ticket to Work program.
No. You are not required to enroll in a VR program, nor are you required to take part in any Ticket to Work program.