Going to work, having a job, earning money, and using talents and skills is something we all want to achieve. Dreams and goals should not be limited due to a person’s disability.
Employment can be many things. It could be:
Community Jobs: Working in the full-time or part-time.
Self-Employment: Finding something you love to do and getting paid for it! In Indiana, there are people with developmental disabilities working as photographers, deejays, artists, and more.
Internships: Getting real-world work experience through an internship at a local business. This might be a short-term job training program. Sometimes, internships lead to full-time jobs in the future. This could be paid or unpaid.
Volunteer: Donating your time and skills at a job that interests you. Maybe it is volunteering at a local food pantry. Maybe it is helping in an office. As a company gets to know you as a volunteer, it could turn into an internship or job.
Vocational Rehabilitation Services: The Basics
If you or your loved one are interested in getting a job and would like help, Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) is a good place to start. Sometimes “VRS” is called “VR.” Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) is a State-Federal partnership. It is a program that helps individuals with disabilities achieve their employment goals. Goals are based on interests, strengths and talents.
As stated by VRS, “eligible individuals must have a physical or mental impairment which creates a substantial impediment to employment and must require Vocational Rehabilitation Services to prepare for, secure, retain or regain employment. There must also be a reasonable expectation that you will be able to benefit from Vocational Rehabilitation Services in terms of an employment outcome.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Is community employment really possible? – Yes! Almost 3 out of 10 people with developmental disabilities are employed in the community. Employers are eager to hire hard-working and qualified people – and you are no different! If you are qualified, a job may be possible. Having a job increases independence, improves confidence, and helps you contribute to your community, among other benefits.
Who is eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS)? – People with disabilities who are looking for employment may be eligible for services.
What if VRS says I am not eligible? – Everyone has the right to appeal the decision. You also have the right to re-apply to VRS in the future if your situation changes. If you have a Medicaid Waiver, work with your case manager for other day-service options.
How Do I apply? – You, your family member or Medicaid Waiver Case Manager can contact VRS at 800-545-7763. A VR counselor will be assigned to help you.
What services may be provided? – Services may include: evaluation for eligibility, vocational counseling and guidance to set goals and a plan to find a job, funding for an Employment Specialist, job-skills training and more.
Will employment affect my government benefits? – This is an important question to ask, and it may be different for each person. To make sure you are prepared for how your job could affect your government benefits, such as SSI, SSDI or Medicaid, contact your Employment Specialist, a Social Security Administration office, or visit www.benefits.gov to learn more.
What happens if I lose my job? – If you lose or leave your job, don’t give up! You can start the process again by contacting VRS or your case manager. Contact VRS at 800-545-7763 or visit www.vrs.in.gov
What do I do if I’m having trouble with VRS? – The Client Assistance Program (CAP) is offered through Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services (IPAS). If you have questions or concerns, contact them at: 317-722-5555 or 800-622-4845.
For more information or to locate your local VRS office, call: 800-545-7763 or visit www.vrs.in.gov.
Guide to Community Employment and Vocational Rehabilitation Services – Provides a step-by-step guide on navigation the VR process.
Pathways to Employment – “Pathways to Employment,” a series of short films, profiles seven individuals who have each pursued their own path to employment – including volunteering, internships, paid employment, owning their own business.