Rehabilitation Services Handbook

This guide will help explain Vocational Rehabilitation -- how it works and how you can make it work for you. Your counselor will also explain vocational rehabilitation services and answer any questions you or your family may have.

What is GVRA?

Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency serves people who have disabilities that present a substantial impediment to employment. Services are provided to individuals to prepare for, secure, retain, advance in, or regain employment. GVRA has 27 Field Offices located around the state. Our counselors work with thousands of people with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities every year.

Should I Apply to GVRA?

You should apply if:

  1. You have a disability;
  2. Your disability causes you substantial problems in preparing for, securing, retaining, advancing in, or regaining employment; and
  3. You are seeking employment.

How do I Get Started?

There are two ways to get started:

Will I Be Eligible?

When you apply to GVRA for help with employment, a counselor will be assigned to work with you. Your counselor will meet with you in person to discuss how GVRA can best assist you in accomplishing your goals. With your written consent, your counselor will gather information about your needs, interests, aptitudes, education, work experience, family, and finances. Your counselor will arrange any needed medical examinations and testing at no cost to you. You will be eligible for GVRA services if:

  1. You have a disability that is a physical, mental, or emotional impairment that results in a impediment to employment, and you can benefit in terms of an employment outcome from services provided
  2. Vocational rehabilitation services are required for you to prepare for, secure, retain, advance in or regain employment.

How Long Will It Take to Determine if I Am Eligible?

You may know if you are eligible for GVRA services the same day you apply for GVRA services, if you bring the following documentation with you to your intake appointment :

  • Proof of Identification (Driver’s License, Birth Certificate, State ID Card)
  • Social Security Card
  • If not a US citizen appropriate documentation listed on the US Customs and Immigration I-9 form showing ability to work in the US.
  • List of Medications
  • Any Psychological records that support stated disability(ies)
  • Any Medical records that support stated disability(ies)
  • Veterans Benefits
  • Proof of Social Security Benefits (SSI/SSDI Award letter)
  • Education records such as Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plans

Without the requested documentation, delays may occur. GVRA has 60 days to make a determination on eligibility, unless:

  • exceptional and unforeseen circumstances beyond GVRA’s control preclude GVRA from completing the determination and you agree an extension is warranted; or
  • trial work experiences are required to determine your eligibility.

What Happens After I Become Eligible for GVRA?

You and your counselor will work together to make informed choices regarding a cooperative plan of action, including an employment goal, the services needed to assist you in getting started or maintaining your career, and your responsibilities. This action plan is called the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).

Deciding on your goal usually takes time. During this time, you will receive information and options to assist you in developing a successful program. You will have the opportunity to consider different careers, your job skills, chances for employment in your local area, potential earnings, family responsibilities, training, and other matters of importance to you and your family.

Your counselor wants you to pick a career that you will be willing and able to work for years to come. Your IPE outlines the steps you will take to obtain a job and can be changed if your needs change. You and your counselor will work together to make any necessary changes.

What Services are Available to Me?

Some services can help you overcome or lessen your disability; others can directly help you prepare for a career. The services you receive will be arranged to meet your individual needs. Not everyone will need every service.

  • Vocational Counseling Services are offered to assist you in finding ways to better help yourself throughout the rehabilitation program, from the first meeting with your counselor to starting and maintaining a career. Vocational counseling services allow you to better understand your potential, rely on your abilities, set realistic vocational goals, change them when necessary, develop successful work habits and begin a satisfying career.
  • Diagnostic Services include medical, psychological, and audiological exams and tests to better understand your disability and your needs for specific types of services.
  • Vocational Evaluation includes testing such as aptitude, interest, general ability, academic exams, work tolerance, and “hands-on” job experience to understand your vocational potential.
  • Restoration Services include many types of medical services and equipment, such as physical and occupational therapy, wheelchairs, automobile hand controls, and other types of rehabilitation technology that may be provided to enable you to pursue your career and achieve independence.
  • Training Services include education to prepare you for a job, including, but not limited to, basic academic, vocational/technical, college, on-the-job, and work adjustment training. You may need to leave home to get the training you want and need.
  • Placement Services include vocational counseling, job search, and job development to increase your ability to obtain a job. You will receive ideas, practice, and advice on finding job leads, filling out applications, getting interviews for a job, and how to interview. GVRA staff may also give you job leads or explain to employers about tax credits they can receive when hiring you. The more contacts with employers you make, the better your chances are of starting your career.
  • Support Services are provided if they are necessary for you to start your career. Services may include:
    • Room, board, and transportation costs during your evaluation or while you are completing a rehabilitation program;
    • Occupational tools, licenses, or equipment;
    • Home modifications, adaptive or special household equipment related to obtaining or maintaining a job;;
    • Van or car modifications, including special driving devices or lifting devices to enable you to travel to your job;
    • Personal care assistance is provided to help you with your daily needs to enable you to participate in a vocational rehabilitation program;
    • Job site modifications that will allow you to obtain and maintain a job;
    • Text Telephone (TTY), signaling devices, hearing aids, and interpreter services may be provided to help you communicate if needed to participate in the vocational rehabilitation program.

How Much Will This Cost Me?

It does not cost you anything to apply for services. There is no charge for diagnostic services, vocational evaluation, vocational counseling, or job placement assistance. Some services such as Post-Secondary training have a maximum fee that may not cover the total cost. In those cases, you would have to cover the difference.  GVRA cannot pay for any services you received before you applied to GVRA. Even after you apply, GVRA can pay only for those services approved in advance by your counselor.

You will be required to apply for and use comparable benefits (health insurance, the GI Bill, PELL, VA Benefits, etc.) which pay for some of the same services as GVRA.  Failure to apply for comparable benefits may affect the availability of GVRA funding assistance for that service.  If you are offered a comparable benefit but choose not to accept it, GVRA will not pay for that service.

Please Note:

When GVRA does not have enough money to provide services to all eligible individuals, it is required to provide services according to an Order of Selection. Under an Order of Selection, a certain group (or groups) of individuals receive services while others are placed on an indefinite waiting list for when sufficient funds become available. GVRA’s Order of Selection places all eligible individuals into one of three groups as follows:

  • Priority Category 1- individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities;
  • Priority Category 2- individuals with Significant Disabilities; and
  • Priority Category 3- all remaining eligible individuals.

Should you be eligible for GVRA services, your counselor will inform you if GVRA is on an Order of Selection and whether you will be provided services or placed on a waiting list.

What are Important Things to Remember if I am Dissatisfied?

  • Try to solve the problem with your counselor first.
  • You may file a written appeal if you cannot resolve your dissatisfaction by addressing it with your counselor.
  • Your counselor will help you with an appeal if you ask for help.
  • You will not be penalized for making an appeal.
  • An appeal will allow you to discuss your dissatisfaction in person.
  • You may bring someone with you to help you at the appeal.

When do I leave GVRA?

A perfect ending is when you have started your career. You may choose to end your involvement with GVRA at any time, but you should let your counselor know if you make such a decision. Additionally, if you do not follow through with the steps you helped to plan, are uncooperative, cannot be located or if GVRA cannot help you reach a vocational goal, your counselor may find it necessary to close your case.

Can I Start Over Again?

Yes. You may reapply at any time. Even though you are working, and your case is closed, it is possible that help can be provided if you begin to have problems with your employer or with your disability. If this happens, please contact your local GVRA office.

What Are My Rights?

GVRA shall not discriminate against an individual because of race, color, religious creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, AIDS or HIV status, or disability.

  • You are entitled to a thorough evaluation to determine if you are eligible for rehabilitation.
  • All personal information given to your counselor or obtained about you will be used only for the purpose of rehabilitation.
  • You have a right to ask to change counselors.
  • You have a right to continue services if you should move to an area serviced by a different field office within Georgia. Discussing your move with your counselor will facilitate this.
  • You have a right to know of any decisions that affect your case, the reasons for those decisions, and to know about important changes in your process before they happen.
  • You have a right to make a written appeal of any decision affecting your case.
  • You have a right to request consideration for an exception to policy due to specialized needs or unusual circumstances.
  • You have a right to ask for help and/or guidance from the GVRA Customer Care.
  • You have a right to ask for help and/or guidance from the Client Assistance Program.

How Long Will it Take Me to Start My Career?

That depends on your abilities, the career you are preparing for and your individual needs. Most importantly, it depends on how much responsibility you take for helping yourself prepare for, start or maintain a career. You can help things move along as quickly as possible by:

  • Help your counselor get the needed information.
  • Keep all appointments or call if you can’t be there.
  • Stay in touch with your counselor (if your counselor cannot find you, arrangements for services cannot be made).
  • Tell your counselor if you feel things are going too slowly.

What if I Have Questions or Complaints?

This is your rehabilitation program. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about anything. You are entitled to the best service GVRA can give you. Your comments, suggestions, and criticisms are important. If you are an applicant or a customer of GVRA and are dissatisfied with a determination or a service GVRA is providing, please contact your counselor or your counselor’s supervisor to discuss your concerns. You may request a hearing before an impartial Hearing Officer. A written request for a hearing must be made within 15 days.  An impartial hearing officer will be assigned to hear and decide your case. You will be given the opportunity for an informal administrative review before the impartial hearing. You may contact the Client Assistance Program at any time during your program for help.

What is the Client Assistance Program (CAP)?

If you have questions or concerns about GVRA services, CAP can help. CAP is a federally mandated program that provides assistance and advocacy to applicants for and recipients of GVRA services. CAP is not a part of GVRA, and services are provided at no cost to its clients.

Contact CAP

Phone: 404-373-2040 (Atlanta Area) or 800-822-9727 (toll free statewide)

Georgia Relay Service No. 800-255-0135

Fax: 404-373-4110

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://www.georgiacap.com   

Mail: Client Assistance Program | 123 North McDonough Street | Decatur, GA 30030

CAP contacts are kept confidential.

What Are My Responsibilities?

You are the most important person in the process, so your active participation is important to its success.  You, your counselor, and others on your rehabilitation team will work together to help you plan for, prepare for, and achieve your employment goals.

Here is a list of the main things for you to do to help us serve you better:

  • Be a part of your process by making your choices, needs, and interests known to your counselor;
  • Maintain regular communication and meet with your  counselor as required throughout your process;
  • Keep and be on time for appointments with your counselor, other staff, and service providers.  When this is not possible, please let your counselor's office know as soon as possible so your appointment can be rescheduled;
  • Give honest and complete information and provide your  counselor with access to information and records that will help your counselor in making decisions about your eligibility and your services;
  • Be sure to tell your counselor about changes in your situation; for example, changes in your address, phone number, medical or psychological condition, as well as changes in your SSI/SSDI check.

What Are My Counselor's Responsibilities?

Your counselor understands how disabilities can get in the way of a career. Your counselor’s responsibility is to help you understand your strengths and the steps needed to overcome your substantial impediment to employment. Your counselor will: help you decide on a career that builds on your strengths, give you information, provide guidance and support, and arrange for you to receive the services you need to prepare for, start and maintain a career. If you have any further questions, please ask your counselor.

What is Informed Choice?

Informed choice, or making a choice based on good information, is the center of the vocational rehabilitation process. VR works with you in making informed choices about:

  • Your job goal.
  • Services you need to reach your goal.
  • Who will provide the services you need.

You share responsibility with your counselor for identifying options and exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Your choice of employment outcome must be consistent with your unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities and interests. Please ask questions as you work with your counselor so that you understand every available option.

Ticket to Work (TTW)

TTW is a work incentive program created by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Under this program, SSA provides recipients with a ticket, which may be used for work related services.  If you have been issued a ticket, please notify your GVRA counselor who will discuss how the Ticket to Work Program and GVRA can jointly assist you in becoming employed.  If you would like to learn more about the Ticket to Work Program, please call toll free 1-866-968-7842 (TTY: 1-866-833-2967). Information is also available at the program's website: https://yourtickettowork.ssa.gov.

A resource called the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Program is available for Social Security recipients with disabilities.  Trained staff can provide information and assistance on how employment will impact an individual's disability benefits. VR staff can tell you how to contact this program, or you can call the Ticket To Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET for additional information. We encourage you to take advantage of this valuable resource so that you can make informed choices about work.

Please Note:

When GVRA does not have enough money to provide services to all eligible individuals, it is required to provide services according to an Order of Selection. Under an Order of Selection, a certain group (or groups) of individuals receive services while others are placed on an indefinite waiting list for when sufficient funds become available. GVRA’s Order of Selection places all eligible individuals into one of three groups as follows:

  • Priority Category 1- individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities;
  • Priority Category 2- individuals with Significant Disabilities; and
  • Priority Category 3- all remaining eligible individuals.

Should you be eligible for GVRA services, your counselor will inform you if GVRA is on an Order of Selection and whether you will be provided services or placed on a waiting list.

Voter Registration:

The National Voter Registration Act is a law designed to make it easier for individuals to register to vote.  Click here if you would like to register to vote in GA.

Affidavit:

The Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act (GSICA) requires that “every agency or political subdivision shall verify the lawful presence in the United States of any applicant for public benefits.”  (O.C.G.A. § 50-36-1).  Therefore, you will be required to complete an affidavit prior to receiving any service.