DI 13501.005 The Social Security Act and Vocational Rehabilitation
The relationship between Social Security and Vocational Rehabilitation has changed several times over the years.
A. Rehabilitation Programs Under Title II and Title XVI
The rehabilitation program under title II was established by the 1965 Amendments to the Social Security Act. Under this law, a percentage of the disability benefits paid under title II in the preceding year from the Trust Funds were paid to the State VR agencies for the costs of VR services furnished to selected individuals entitled to DIB, CDB, or DWB benefits.
The rehabilitation program under title XVI was established by the 1972 Amendments to the Social Security Act. Under this law, an appropriated amount under title XVI from general revenue funds were paid to the State VR agencies for the cost of providing VR services to selected SSI recipients based on disability or blindness. (Title XVI is not effective for Puerto Rico, Guam, or the Virgin Islands).
The expenditures were made for services by the Federal government to offset nonpayment, or in the case of the blind, substantial reduction of the Supplemental Security Income payments or Social Security payments which would be made to the beneficiary/recipient.
B. Plans For Achieving Self-Support For Blind or Disabled
The 1972 Amendments provided a provision that enabled disabled or blind individuals to receive earned or unearned income, and accumulate resources over a reasonable period of time in order to obtain occupational training and education, purchase occupational equipment or to achieve some goal to become financially self supporting.
For income/resources to be excluded from eligibility calculations, the recipient must have a specific plan for achieving self-support (PASS). There is no restriction on who may develop a PASS, however it is often developed by a VR agency. (See SI 00870.000 ff. for requirements for a PASS.)
C. Rehabilitation Program Changes Under The 1980 Amendments
Section 301 of the 1980 disability amendments provided for a continuation of SSDI and SSI-DI payments after disability has ceased due to medical recovery; if the individual is participating in an approved State VR program which would increase the likelihood that the claimant will be permanently removed from the disability rolls.
D. Rehabilitation Under the 1981 Amendments
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 modified the 1972 and 1965 Amendments to the Social Security Act. Under the original and amending legislation, SSA has the responsibility to refer disability applicants for vocational rehabilitation services and to enforce cooperation with the VR agencies. However, the 1981 Amendments changed the method by which funds from the Trust Fund (Title II beneficiaries) and general revenues (for SSI recipients) are paid to State VR agencies for rehabilitative services. Public Law 97-35 authorizes the Secretary of DHHS to reimburse the State VR agencies from title II and XVI funds only for successful rehabilitation of beneficiaries /recipients as determined by criteria established by the Commissioner of Social Security. It will require a determination of the effectiveness of the rehabilitation services toward the person's performance of substantial gainful activity. (See DI 13501.001B.)