- What is Vocational Rehabilitation / Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind?
The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) provides services designed to assist individuals with physical or mental disabilities in terms of employment. The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind (OVRB) provides such services to individuals with significant sight problems.
- How do I apply?
To apply for VR services, call or write the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services (MDRS) office nearest you, or WIN One Stop Center, and request an appointment to meet with a counselor. Please let us know if you need interpreter services or other accommodations for your appointment. If you need help in locating an MDRS office in your area go to contact information for a counselor in your area or call 1-800-443-1000.
- Do I need to bring anything with me when I apply for services?
If you are a Medicaid or Medicare recipient, bring your card. If you have medical insurance, bring your identification card. Any medical or personal documents pertaining to your disability brought may be helpful.
At this time, your counselor will explain MDRS and VR services and will ask you:
- to explain how your disability makes it hard for you to work;
- how do you think we can help you go to work.
All records and information are kept strictly confidential.
- What happens after I have finished the application?
Your counselor will want to learn more about you through one or more of the following ways:
- getting information from your doctors, medical facilities, schools, etc.;
- sending you to a new doctor to find out about your current medical condition;
- having you take some tests to find out more about your interests, abilities, and skills.
Your counselor will make the appointments for you. You won't have to pay for these appointments.
It is very important that you keep all appointments. Please let your counselor know if you can't make it to one. If you miss an appointment, it may take much longer for you to get services.
- Does everyone who applies get served?
No, in order to get services, you must:
- Be in Mississippi
- Have a physical and / or mental condition that affects your ability to work;
- Need services in order to help you get and keep or retain a job;
- Be able to get and keep a job after receiving services and, Recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are presumed eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.
- Who Decides If I Can Get Vocational Rehabilitation Services?
After reviewing all of the facts, your counselor decides if you can be served in the vocational rehabilitation program. If the decision is "YES", you will become a VR client. As a client, you play a very important role in helping us to help you reach your employment goal.
However, if your counselor tells you that VR can't help, you will receive a letter explaining the decision and your case file will be closed ... and what actions you can take if you don't agree. You will be referred to other programs or agencies which may be able to help you.
- What kinds of services are available?
Services might include work evaluation (CRP/Allied Link), vocational training, counseling, surgery, artificial arms and legs, hearing aids, assistive technology, transportation, interpreter services for people with hearing impairments, job development, job training, and job placement. You probably won't need all of these services. You will only get those services that which are required to help you reach your goal.
Services, service providers, and your employment goal will be determined through informed client choice (Informed Choice link), that is, after providing you with information about your options and alternatives.
- What is the plan?
If you are found eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, the next step will be to develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) that will contain your employment goal, the services you need to reach the goal and additional information.
Your MDRS counselor is available to assist you in completing all or part of an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).
You have options for developing your IPE. You may develop all or part of the IPE either:
- with the assistance of your MDRS counselor
- without assistance
- with a qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor not employed by MDRS
- with another resource outside of MDRS
MDRS will not pay a fee to assist in the development of the IPE.
Whichever option is chosen, the information for the IPE will be entered into MDRS's computer system and then a printed copy will need to be signed by you or your representative and approved by your MDRS counselor.
- What are the components of my IPE?
Employment goal including a statement about how you were involved in selecting the goal,
A description of planned services needed to achieve your employment goal including the start and end dates of each service,
The name of your chosen providers including a statement about how you were involved in choosing the service providers.
Estimated cost of the services and the source of funding for the services.
- Your responsibilities in achieving your employment goal.
- Criteria for evaluation progress towards your employment goal.
- Statements about the terms and conditions for services from MDRS and your right to appeal decisions made by your counselor.
- Signatures: You or your authorized representative and your MDRS counselor.
- I'll need to participate in the cost of service... won't I?
Eligibility for VR services is not dependent on amount of income or liquid assets. However, you are expected to participate to the best of your ability financially in your plan. A financial needs analysis will be required for the provision of some services.
- After I reach my work goal, then what?
Once you become employed your MDRS counselor will follow your progress closely for a minimum of ninety days to make sure that you are adjusting to work. After this time, your counselor will discuss closing your case, as you will have shown that you are able to maintain employment.
- But... what if I have a problem?
There may be times when you don't understand or agree with the decisions made about your case. Perhaps you have a concern about the types of services that you are getting. Or, maybe you think you should be able to get services when you've been told that you can't.
At times like these, the best thing to do is talk with your MDRS counselor about your concerns.
- What can I do if I disagree with my counselor's decision?
At any time throughout the rehabilitation process you have the right to request a timely review, either by mediation or impartial hearing, if after you talk with your counselor and still do not agree. Your counselor will advise you in writing your due process.
- Are there other places I can go to ask questions about MDRS?
Yes. You can call MDRS's toll free telephone number with questions about MDRS services: 1-800-443-1000 (Voice/TDD) Or, if you would like to talk to someone outside of MDRS, you may contact the Client Assistance Program (CAP) at:
Client Assistance Program
500G East Woodrow Wilson
P. O. Box 4958
Jackson, MS 39296-4958
(601) 362-2585, or 1-800-962-2400 (Voice/TDD)
CAP can help you:
understand VR services;
communicate better with your VR counselor;
take administrative or legal steps;
and refer you to other services and benefits.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against on the basis of your disability, feel free to contact MDRS's ADA Coordinator for assistance. You may write or call the ADA Coordinator at:
Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services
P.O. Box 1698
Jackson, MS 39215-1698
Phone: 1-800-443-1000 (Voice/TDD)
Does MDRS have other programs?
The Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services has other programs for persons with significant disabilities such as: Supported Employment, Secondary Education Transition, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spinal Cord Injury/Traumatic Brain Injury Program, Employability Skills Training, and Independent Living Services. Go to contact information for a counselor in your area.