If you are disabled, you have probably been through months and possibly years of physical rehabilitation, so the thought of enrolling in another rehab program may be completely unappealing. However, vocational rehabilitation is an entirely different practice, one that can make it possible for you to return to work.

Vocational rehabilitation is an important asset to those with disabilities. Entering a VR program helps patients regain the ability to hold down a job once more.

Vocational Rehabilitation Basics

Physical rehabilitation helps patients recover from illnesses and accidents and is an integral part of recovery. Simply receiving this medical service does not guarantee that you will be able to return to work, however. Often, a person’s disability means they are unable to do their previous job or any related job. As a result, you may end up enrolled in a Social Security Disability program. For many patients, being unable to work is a devastating consequence of their physical or mental problems. Entering a vocational rehabilitation program can help you develop new skills and identify new job opportunities. As a result, you may be able to reenter the workforce..

The services a VR program offers includes vocational assessment, new job training, job counseling, job searches, on-the-job training and help with job accommodations at a current employer’s. Other services include:

  • Possible financial assistance while in the program
  • Interpreters for the deaf
  • Reader services for the blind
  • Personal assistants to help manage other disabilities
  • Technology devices and training

VR services can also help you become self-employed, if that is your goal. Counselors will help you do the market research any entrepreneur needs as well as aid you in constructing a business plan.

A VR program can also help you return to school and possibly secure a special scholarship. Certain rehabilitation scholarships will fully pay for a year’s studies if you commit to working for a public rehabilitation program for two years. A four-year degree, then, would require you work for a public program for eight years. You can choose to enter rehabilitation counseling, administration, technology, psychology and a number of other specialties to qualify for these scholarships.

Accidents and illness can make resuming your previous job impossible. A good vocational rehabilitation program can help you and employers realize how much you still have to offer to the workforce. You may end up with an entirely new and exciting career.

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SSD and Vocational Rehabilitation

If you receive SSI or SSDI, you are eligible for federally funded VR services, although you are not required to participate in them. The only exception to eligibility is for people who are deemed too disabled to benefit from VR. Since using this service is voluntary, you will need to contact the appropriate organizations in your state to enroll. Depending on your state of residence, you may need to contact the health and human services agency. In others, vocational rehabilitation is part of the department of education. Your legal counsel can advise you on this matter.

You will be required to enter into an agreement with your state’s VR counselor through an individualized plan for employment. The VR program needs to result in your returning to work for a minimum of nine continuous months at a “substantial earnings level,” known as substantial gainful activity or SGA. (Social Security’s Vocational Rehabilitation Reimbursement Program. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/work/vocational_rehab.html)

SSD Benefits and Vocational Rehabilitation

You will be subject to disability earning limits  and if you go over those limits, you can lose your monthly benefits.  amount.

Ticket to Work

Ticket to Work was established to help those with disabilities more easily return to the workforce or remain in their current positions. It’s also a way to help you function independently and eventually reduce or eliminate the need for government benefits. To participate, you’ll need to enroll with an approved provider such as an Employment Network or your state VR agency.

If you take advantage of the Ticket to Work program, you will be able to go back to work without immediately losing your disability benefit. If you have to stop working once again, you’ll be able to get your benefits back. You’ll also continue to get your healthcare benefits and be exempt from a medical continuing disability review, or CDR, while using your “ticket.”

The Good Law Group

People with mental and physical disabilities may long to return to work and eventually be able to do so. Others simply cannot resume their previous job or any job for a sustained period. Be aware that a change in job status will eventually affect your benefits. Social Security benefit law is complex and often confusing, making these important decisions difficult.

When dealing with your SSDI or SSI benefits, you should always get the advice of an experienced and successful law firm. The Good Law Group has decades of experience in helping people fight for their disability rights. Winning your initial disability fight may have been difficult and time consuming. As a result, you may be hesitant to do anything to change your status. For many people, entering into a state VR program is an excellent move that can help them return to work. Before you make a decision, though, you should consult with the experts.

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