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2012 Florida Partners In Crisis Annual Conference . Orlando July 12-13, 2012. Overview of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program in Florida. A Federal/State Partnership with USDOE/RSA. To Assist Individuals with Disabilities with Employment. 1918 – The Soldiers Rehabilitation Act

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Overview of the Vocational Rehabilitation

Program in Florida

A Federal/State Partnership with USDOE/RSA

  • To Assist Individuals with Disabilities with Employment

1918 – The Soldiers Rehabilitation Act

        • Supplemented traditional pension given to soldiers with a disability with vocational rehabilitation where employment was “feasible”
  • 1920 – Smith-Fess Act Extended vocational rehabilitation
  • to civilians
  • 1935 – Social Security Act Established vocational rehabilitation as a permanent program
  • 1973 – Rehabilitation Act
        • Right to participate in planning a rehabilitation program Choice

It is the mission of the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to help individuals with disabilities achieve gainful employment and the highest level of independence

americans with disabilities act
Americans with Disabilities Act
  • A person with a physical or mental impediment
  • Has a record of such impediment
  • Or is regarded as having one

A disability is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment of a person that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as…

Walking Talking Eating Breathing

Seeing Hearing Learning

Psychological Functioning, etc…

ada amendments updates
ADA Amendments Updates
  • Clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination by reinstating a broad scope of protection under ADA
  • The term “disability” must now be construed in favor of broad coverage of employees “to the maximum extend permitted

“Major life activity” –Major bodily functions


The individual requires vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for, obtain, retain, or regain employment.

Receiving Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income and intend to become employed.

An eligibility decision should be made within 60 days after you apply for services.


Speech and Language Therapy

On-Site Job/Task Analysis

Training and Education After High School

Medical and Psychological Diagnosis and Treatment


Vocational Evaluation

Career Planning

Job Placement

Counseling and Guidance

Assessment of Technology Needs

Job Coaching

1 reason people don t seek treatment is stigma
#1 Reason People Don’t Seek Treatment Is Stigma
  • Stigma is the aura of shame and blame
  • It is a barrier to well-being and a full life
  • It holds applicants back
  • Deters people from seeking help
  • May cause discomfort for returning employees
were you aware
Were You Aware….
  • Stigma is not just the use of the wrong word or action
  • Stigma is a barrier and discourages individuals and their families from getting the help they need due to fear of being discriminated against
  • Many people would rather tell employers they have committed a petty crime and were in jail than admit to being in a psychiatric hospital

What People Believe….

Nearly half of the population associate mental illness with violence

  • 57% believe that mental illnesses can not be diagnosed as accurately as physical illnesses
  • Many peers think that mental illness is a poor excuse for bad behavior
  • 38% unwilling to be friends with a person

having a mental health problem

  • 64% unwilling to have a person with schizophrenia as a co-worker


  • People with mental illnesses can’t hold jobs
  • Media often ridicules mental illnesses and portrays them as depressed and dangerous
  • Horrific events are covered by the media, whereas, stories of hope and recovery are not
employment brings
Employment Brings…
  • A sense of purpose
  • A sense of pride
  • A sense of belonging
  • Valuable social interaction
  • Role Recovery

work is so integral to one’s self-worth,

finding and belonging to a mental

health-friendly workplace is of great

significance to people who have

experienced mental illnesses


New EEOC Rules on Criminal Histories May Affect Small-Business Hiring

Many small businesses had no idea there was anything wrong with a blanket ban on hiring anybody with a criminal record

In April, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) signaled a crackdown on employers that use criminal histories to discriminate against job applicants illegally. But to judge from conversations with business owners, labor lawyers, and human resources consultants, many small businesses had no idea there was anything wrong with practices like a blanket ban on hiring anybody with a criminal record. The notion that using criminal records in employment decisions could constitute discrimination has been government policy since at least the 1970s. The EEOC has in the past issued policy statements about how employers may use criminal records without running afoul of the Civil Rights Act, but in April the agency published new enforcement guidance. Though the underlying theory appears unchanged, labor lawyers say the new policy requires companies to establish procedures to show they are not using criminal records to discriminate by race or national origin

purpose of the ticket to work self sufficiency program
Purpose of the Ticket to Work & Self-Sufficiency Program

To expand the employment opportunities for most individuals receiving SSDI and/or SSI benefits.

  • Reduce their dependency on SSA
the need for ticket to work
The Need for Ticket to Work
  • Less than 1% of SSDI and SSI beneficiaries attain paid employment enabling them to be self-sufficient
  • One-third of the people who leave the rolls return in 3 years
  • If one half of one percent of those individuals were to attain self-supporting employment, savings would total $3.5 billion
mission and objectives
Mission and Objectives
  • Address barriers that beneficiaries encounter when obtaining/returning to work
  • Expand availability of health care services and medical coverage
  • Eliminate work disincentives
  • Provide enhanced benefits planning and assistance from service providers
goals of ticket to work
Goals of Ticket to Work
  • To expand the number of service providers who are available to serve beneficiaries.
  • Increase the number of beneficiaries entering the work force.
  • Reduce dependency on cash benefits.
key program players
Key Program Players
  • Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Beneficiaries
  • Employment Networks (ENs)
  • State VR Agencies
  • Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA)
  • Disability Rights Florida
social security administration ssa
Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Designated by Congress to oversee the implementation of the Ticket to Work Program
  • Responsible for writing the Regulations for the TTWP
  • Monitoring the success/short-comings of the TTWP
  • Determining which beneficiaries will receive tickets
  • Has final say on all decisions
employment networks en
Employment Networks (EN)
  • Organizations or groups of organizations that have come together to provide necessary services to a beneficiary in support of an employment goal
  • Recruited by MAXIMUS; approved by SSA
  • Responsible for overseeing the administration/day-to-day functions of the TTWP
  • Maintain list of available ENs
  • Ensure all information is in accessible format to beneficiaries
  • Resolve payment issues
  • Monitor ENs to ensure adequate choices are available to beneficiaries
  • Ensure EN services are available to beneficiaries in all geographical areas
disability rights florida formerly known as protection and advocacy center p a
Disability Rights Florida(Formerly known as Protection and Advocacy Center (P & A)
  • SSA funds P & A services, an advocacy and protection program dedicated to beneficiaries of Social Security.
  • Ticket beneficiaries must contact this program for rights and remedies under the Ticket Program.
who is eligible to participate
Who is Eligible to Participate?
  • * Between Ages 18 to 64
  • * Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits (SSI or SSDI)
  • * Completed a Medical Review by SSA
how does the program work
How Does The Program Work?
  • * Once you are eligible, contact MAXIMUS for information regarding the Program
  • * Select an Employment Network with which to receive services
  • * Activate your Ticket by signing a Plan of Employment
  • * Once you are working take advantage of Ongoing Support Services to help you stabilize in employment
wipa services
  • Preliminary Consultation (Information & Referral)
  • Benefits Summary and Analysis
  • Work Incentives Analysis and Plan
  • Optional Services as required
wipa services1
WIPA Services

Preliminary Consultation (Information and Referral)

This service is offered to eligible DVR consumers early in the rehabilitation process and may be provided to consumers at Referral orApplication Statuses.

DVR Orientations and Initial Interviews will be revised to include basic information concerning the impact of working on SSA benefits and a general review of the Work Incentives available to Ticket-holders.

wipa services continued
WIPA Services (continued)

Benefits Summary & Analysis (BS&A)

This service is for consumers in Plan Development to Service statuses or beyond and includes verification of benefits through the Benefits Planning Query (BPQY), gathering information about benefits from all relevant sources, such as SSA, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, subsidized housing, etc., and conducting a detailed, in-person intake interview with the consumer to begin to analyze which work incentives could apply to their situation and the impact considering various scenarios (i.e., not working, working part-time and working full-time).

wipa services continued1
WIPA Services (continued)

Work Incentives Analysis & Plan (WIAP)

This service is for individuals in Plan Development to Service statuses and beyond and have an offer of employment in a specific job or are working already, and will be working more than 10 hours a week. It includes verification of benefits (BPQY), gathering information about benefits from all relevant sources, such as SSA, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, subsidized housing, etc., and conducting a detailed, in person intake interview with the consumer to begin to analyze which work incentives could apply to their situation.

optional wipa services
  •  Assisting a consumer with establishing an IRWE (Impairment Related Work Expense)
  • Assisting a consumer with establishing an Employer Subsidy.
  • Assisting a consumer with resolution of a specific benefits issue, e.g., overpayment
  • Assisting with the development of a Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS)
ticket to work provides more options for the ticket holder
  • If VR provides services, helps the Ticket-holder get a job and closes the case, the Ticket-holder’s Ticket still has value!
  • Even if the Ticket-holder is working, the Ticket-holder can be referred to an EN for additional services.
partnership plus
  • Provide Beneficiaries with Other Service Provider Options
  • Ensure Seamless Sequential Services from VR and EN
  • Address the Need for a System of Ongoing Support
joining the partnership
  • Must be an Employment Network as approved by SSA
  • Must be certified by DVR as a Vendor of EN Services
  • DVR will execute a Memorandum of Agreement with EN to initiate the partnership. Call DVR for more information and assistance – (850) 245-3341 or via website – www.rehabworks.org
partnership plus with florida vr
  • Referral of Clients for Post Employment Services

At case closure, the Division may refer consumers to an EN, who is also a qualified DVR vendor of Employment Network Services, for job-related services that will aid a consumer in achieving Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) levels of employment. SGA is achieved when a consumer is employed for nine (9) months within a twelve (12) month period and the consumer is earning, during that period of time, SGA earnings established by the SSA.

partnership plus1
  • Payment for Services

$1000 for providing ongoing support that results in the consumer being able to achieve at least 7 months of SGA employment that will lead to 9 months of SGA employment and a valid claim for DVR to be reimbursed for the cost of its services.

forms and process for ens and vr
ssa ticket holder cases closed successfully july 2010 june 2011
SSA Ticket-Holder Cases Closed Successfully July 2010 – June 2011

Total Cases – 1301

31.6% of total – above SGA

68.4% below SGA

21.6% at 75% - 99% of SGA

28.5% at 50% - 74% of SGA

18.3% at 49% or less of SGA

successful closures july 2010 june 2011
Successful Closures July 2010 – June 2011

Cases below 50% of SGA (238)

217 – Average Weekly Wage if working full- time would be at SGA

8 – at SGA if working 20 hours per week

partnership plus2


  • Beneficiary
  • DVR & ENs
  • SSA

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit

was designed to provide a

tax incentive to employers

for hiring individuals with disabilities and certain target groups to help them enter or re-enter the labor force


Federal Tax Credits

From $2,400 up to $9,600 worth of credit




NEWThe Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, provides seamless transition for Service members, expands education and training opportunities for Veterans, and provides tax credits for employers who hire Veterans with service-connected disabilities.

  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Washington, DC 20420
  • Reviewed/Updated Date: June 11, 2012

FLORIDAGloria HarrisonDepartment of Economic OpportunityWOTC Program MSC G-300 107 EAST MADISON STREETTALLAHASSEE, FL 32399-4140Phone: 850-921-3299Email: gloria.harrison@deo.myflorida.c


Architectural/Transportation Tax Deduction: IRS Code Section 190, Barrier Removal

Allows businesses an annual deduction of up to $15,000 for expenses incurred to remove physical, structural, and transportation barriers for persons with disabilities in the workplace

  • Tax Credits and Financial Incentives

Tax Credits and Financial Incentives

Small Business Tax Credit: IRS Code 44, Disabled Access Credit

Helps small businesses cover the cost of making their businesses accessible, up to a maximum benefit of $5,000


I.R.S. Code Section 44Disabled Access Credit

Sign language interpretersReaders or materials

(Braille or large print)for employees who have

visual impairments

Adaptive equipmentConsulting fees


The VR Corporate Consultant works one on one with employers to assist with disability and employment issues

ADA training and consultation

Reasonable accommodation services and information

Disability Awareness Training



Grant Philosophy

The Able Trust's mission is to be a key leader in providing Floridians with disabilities successful opportunities for employment. One way our mission is accomplished is through the Grant Program.

The goal of The Able Trust grant program is to provide funds to qualifying organizations to assist individuals with disabilities gain competitive employment of their choice in their community.

The Able Trust recognizes the great diversity of people across the state of Florida and is fully committed to providing grant funding opportunities that serve different disability populations in both Florida’s urban and rural areas.



The Able Trust will accept proposals for review from organizations that are either governmental agencies or are currently qualified as tax exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c) 3 which demonstrate an interest to serve the employment needs of individuals with disabilities in the state of Florida


The Able Trust

Ability Awards

Annually recognizes small and large employers forbest disability employment practices

Award recipients receive

a commendation from the Governor


Closing Thought

Accept Difference

Value Difference

Teach Difference

Till Difference Doesn’t Make a Difference


Eladio Amores Corporate Consultant Florida Department of Education Division of Vocational Rehabilitation 941-359-7811Eladio.Amores@vr.fldoe.orgwww.Fljobconnections.com


Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

2002-A Old Saint Augustine Rd.

Tallahassee, FL 32301-4862