DI 13501.010 DO/BO Explanation of VR Services
All applicants for SSDI or SSI disability or blindness benefits are to be considered for referral to their State VR agency or in some States, to the agency for the blind for possible rehabilitation services. (A reference to a State VR agency also includes an existing State agency for the blind.)
The SSA DO will transmit any title II or XVI disability or blindness case requiring a State determination directly to the appropriate DDS for a determination of disability/blindness and evaluation of rehabilitation potential. Generally, the DDS examiner, with the aid of the DDS physician when needed, is responsible for evaluating rehabilitation potential (conducting a gross screening) using POMS/State VR agency criteria in conjunction with each disability/blindness determination. However, in some States, VR screening responsibility has been assumed by the VR agency, and said agency must screen each determination. In either case, whether screening is performed by DDS examiners or the VR agency itself, persons who are identified as having rehabilitation potential must be referred for VR services.
The leaflet “Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind and Disabled,” DHHS Publication No. (SSA) 05-10094, is available in local Social Security offices and should be given to anyone who inquires about benefits based upon disability or blindness. This leaflet includes a form which may be completed and mailed to the State VR agency. The address of the State VR agency should be prestamped on the leaflet by the DO. (In States where a separate agency for the blind exist, that agency's address should be furnished to inquirers about benefits based on blindness.) Applicants whose claims are processed through the State agency (DDS) should be informed that they may be contacted later by a State VR agency. Avoid giving the impression that the State VR agency will contact all individuals who have applied for disability benefits or payments. While each applicant may contact the State VR agency at any time, referrals may be initiated by the appropriate State agency (DDS) without the person's consent.
B. Exceptions-No VR Explanation Required
Generally, the DO interviewer should not discuss the State VR program if any of the following conditions apply:
The individual is filing or has filed a concurrent claim for retirement insurance benefits, unless he specifically requests referral;
Unless blind, the applicant for SSI payments is under age 15 or the age agreed upon by the VR and the State agency (DDS) in your State;
The title II applicant resides outside the jurisdiction of State or territorial VR agencies;
There is either a record of a recent VR referral under title II or title XVI, or the individual is currently known to VR;
The individual has an illness that appears to be terminal;
The individual has been continuously institutionalized for two years and date for his release has not been set.
C. Technically Denied Applicants
The interviewer should explain to all technically denied applicants whose claims are not processed through a State agency (DDS) that VR is a public service to help handicapped people to prepare for and find suitable work, and that he will be considered for VR services only if he requests them. However, no attempt should be made to interpret the services provided in terms of the individual and his needs. Child applicants for SSI payments, or their representatives, should also be informed of the deferred referral procedure (see DI 13501.010 C. for exceptions).
The paragraph below may be used by the interviewer in explaining the VR referral procedure to the individual who inquires about disability benefits in person or by telephone:
Whether or not you are eligible for payments because of disability or blindness, you may receive help in improving your condition and in preparing for and finding work if you apply for vocational rehabilitation services by your State vocational rehabilitation agency. That agency provides counseling, training, and other services that may enable you to work. Information in your application may be made available to help the people in the VR agency decide whether you can benefit from rehabilitation services, and, if so, what kinds of services will be most helpful to you. You can get more information about vocational rehabilitation services by reading the leaflet entitled “Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the Blind and Disabled.” The leaflet contains an inquiry form which can be mailed to the appropriate VR agency if you feel the VR agency can help you.
D. Explanation To Nonapplicants
A disabled or blind person may inquire at the DO about his right to a Social Security disability freeze or a disability benefit (including childhood disability benefits or benefits as a disabled widow or widower) or about eligibility for SSI payments, but may not file an application because he does not meet the eligibility requirements. The DO interviewer will explain to the nonapplicant the VR services that may be available and give him the pamphlet “Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind and Disabled,” (DHHS Publication No. (SSA) 05-10094). The interview is informational and the DO representative should in no way attempt to influence the decision of the individual. If the nonapplicant displays interest in the VR program, suggest that the individual review the material at home. If he decides to request consideration for vocational rehabilitation services, he should complete the reverse panel of the leaflet and mail it to the State VR agency. The DO interviewer should call attention to the address of the State VR agency prestamped on the leaflet or provide the address of the agency for the blind.