Work Toolkit:

Supporting people on waivers

Find

People in the find phase have work goals and want to start looking for a job.

If they want help finding a job, they can apply for job search services through Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) or State Services for the Blind (SSB).

The Engage, Plan, Find, Keep framework graphic, highlighting the Find phase

VRS

Understanding the VRS/SSB service

VRS/SSB services help a person find and get settled into a job that meets their strengths, interests and conditions for employment.  

Service outcomes and activities are focused on employment goals.

  • A job that's right for the person. The person finds a job that meets their employment goals. 
  • Job stability. The person is settled into their new job.  This means the person is satisfied with their new job, the employer is satisfied with the person, and any needed employment supports are in place to ensure continued success. 

VRS/SSB counselors provide counseling and guidance. This includes:

  • Learning what the person is good at, what they like, what they want to accomplish and what's needed to reach their goals (for those coming from plan phase, the employment portfolio will be used to inform this activity)   
  • Creating an individual employment plan that outlines a person's employment goals and the services needed to them

VRS/SSB employment service providers help people find jobs.

During the job search (E1PBA), this includes: 

  • Asking questions, using the information from the plan phase and from the VRS/SSB counselor to learn about the person and their goals and needs
  • Making connections with employers, crafting jobs that fit the person's needs, helping employers see how the person could meet their business needs
  • Helping the person polish their resume, fill out job applications and learn how to have great job interviews

During job coaching and/or initial follow-up employment supports, this includes:

  • Helping the person learn their job
  • Arranging for any assistive technology or accommodation needs 
  • Providing job coaching if needed

The VRS/SSB employment service provider also provides other services as authorized by the VRS/SSB counselor and the person to help meet their employment goals. See this summary of job-related services from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The vocational rehabilitation process consists of the following key stages.

The VRS/SSB intake process is used to determine a person's eligibility for services and how quickly their services can start (also known as priority of service). For VRS/SSB services, people are given priority to receive services based on the significance of their disability and how functional limitations affect their ability to engage in competitive integrated employment.

The intake process is initiated by the VRS/SSB counselor, who schedules an intake meeting and provides general information about VRS/SSB. During the intake meeting, the VRS/SSB counselor:

  • Helps the person complete an application for services
  • Discusses the person's situation, thoughts about work, interests, strengths, abilities, and concerns or barriers to employment
  • Reviews what the person did and learned during employment exploration or development (plan phase) 

Using their My Vault account, the person can share items in their employment portfolio, service plans and other important information.

The person may also need to share medical documentation to show their need for VRS/SSB services. If the person needs help getting and sharing this information, their waiver case manager and/or employment development service provider can help.

After the intake meeting, VRS/SSB determines the person's eligibility and priority for services. The decision is based on the person's needs, their disability and any functional limitations that affect the person's ability to work. 

A person on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is presumed to be eligible, but priority of service must still be determined.

VRS/SSB will notify the person of the decision within 60 days. 

  • Eligible: If a person is eligible for services, the VRS/SSB counselor will determine the priority of service (which determines how quickly the person can begin services) and then a meeting will be scheduled for initial employment planning. 
  • Waiting list: VRS/SSB groups people into categories of service to make sure they're able to serve people most in need. When all categories of service are open and providers are available, there is no waiting list. When categories are closed due to funding or there are no available service providers, the people in those categories may have to wait for services.
  • Not eligible: If a person is not eligible for services, they will be notified by phone and then in writing and offered a referral to other services. resources. At that point their VRS/SSB application will be closed.

Once services can start, the VRS/SSB counselor holds an initial employment planning meeting with the person to create the individual plan for employment.

With the person's permission, VRS/SSB will invite the waiver case manager in this meeting. Waiver case managers are encouraged to participate to stay up-to-date on the person's job search and ensure any needed waiver supports are identified and documented in the waiver support plan. 

Once initial employment is complete, the VRS/SSB counselor holds a job search placement meeting with the person and the VRS/SSB provider identified during planning. The waiver case manager will also be included if the person chooses.  

VRS

Referring directly to VRS/SSB

When a person wants to move directly into a job search and does not want or need engage or plan services, a direct referral to VRS/SSB should be offered. 

To help expedite the VRS/SSB eligibility determination and coordinate services, include any of the following available information:  

  • The person's waiver support plan
  • The person's IEP or 504 plan
  • Any activities completed in My Vault, such as a profile, life trajectory, integrated star, benefits lookup or DB101 estimator session results
  • Employment history or previous work experience
  • Verification of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), such as a benefits lookup, current Medicare card, benefit determination letter or other correspondence from the Social Security Administration describing benefits based on the person's disability, or a Social Security benefits planning query
  • Documentation of disability, such as a letter from a medical or mental health care provider
  • State Medical Review (SMRT) documentation

You can help the person upload information in their My Vault account so they can easily share it with VRS/SSB. If the person doesn’t want to create a My Vault account, they can share the information with VRS/SSB in other ways (or they can sign a release that allows you to share information with VRS/SSB on their behalf).

Contact the VRS/SSB liaison or a local VRS/SSB office.

The VRS/SSB waiver liaison is a new role created to make it easier for waiver employment service providers and waiver case managers to connect with VRS/SSB.

If you're not sure where to start or you want to talk with someone who's been specially trained in working with waiver services, a VRS/SSB waiver liaison can be a great resource. You can connect with a VRS/SSB liaison any time you have questions about VRS/SSB or want to collaborate. If you have a good working relationship with your local VRS/SSB office or counselors, you don't need to work through a liaison.

Review the VRS and SSB Waiver Liaison Contact List to find a liaison in your area.

Most VRS offices are housed within a CareerForce location. Check this interactive map of VRS offices across the state and this listing of SSB offices. Help the person find the office that is most convenient for them.

Employmentserviceprovider

Selecting a service provider

Dually enrolled providers can provide both waiver employment and VRS/SSB services. It's important to help people understand their provider options and make an informed choice about which provider is best for them.

See a list of dually enrolled providers at MinnesotaHelp.info. Or, do your own search for a targeted list of dually enrolled providers:

  1. Visit MinnesotaHelp.info
  2. Type Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Community Partner in the search box and press enter
  3. Check Dual Waiver and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Community Partner under Licenses and Certifications in the left navigation column 
Employmentserviceprovider

Using the plan portfolio

Plan phase services result in a positive summary and portfolio of outcome products that inform the person's job search. 

VRS/SSB counselors use the positive summary and items in the portfolio to:

  • Learn how best to support the person, including the level of support needed to be successful in competitive integrated employment
  • Get context and background on the person's history and experiences
  • Understand the person's interests, abilities and conditions of employment (such as desired work location, schedule and accommodations)
  • Inform development of the employment plan (preventing the need to repeat information or activities)
  • Guide the employment goal and vocational services that will be provided by VRS/SSB
  • Prep the person for job interviews

Typically, the waiver employment service provider:

  • Notifies the VRS/SSB counselor that the person has a portfolio
  • Shares the positive summary of what was done and learned during the plan phase
  • Helps the person share the portfolio (saved in My Vault) with the VRS/SSB counselor directly (or, with a signed release, shares information on the person's behalf)

If the positive summary and portfolio aren't shared ahead of time, during intake the VRS/SSB counselor will ask the person if they have a My Vault account, what activities they've done and if they'll share the portfolio.

Waiver Case Managers

Working with waivers

It's important to coordinate with the waiver case manager during find services to ensure needed long-term waiver supports are in place.

When creating a person's individual plan for employment, VRS/SSB professionals must identify the person's long-term employment support needs and confirm that the home and community-based service (HCBS) waiver will fund these services. Confirming waiver supports during initial VRS/SSB employment planning will ensure a seamless transition after the person gets a job. 

To confirm access to long-term funding for employment supports, VRS/SSB counselors can help the person get a benefits lookup in their My Vault account (or, with a signed release, do it on their behalf).

To confirm HCBS waiver supports, VRS/SSB counselors can use the benefits lookup activity in My Vault.

  • Doing this activity sends a request for benefits lookup to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS looks up the person's records and sends the results back to the My Vault account within two days.
  • The benefits lookup provides information about all of the person's current benefits, including confirmation of the home and community-based service (HCBS) waiver. 
  • A person can do the benefits lookup in their own My Vault account and then share it with you. If the person doesn't have a My Vault account, check out how to create a My Vault account (PDF) for instructions.
  • A VRS/SSB counselor can do the benefits lookup on the person's behalf. VRS/SSB counselors must have a professional My Vault account and a signed release from the person.

While the person is looking for a job, it's important for the VRS/SSB counselor, job placement service provider and waiver case manager to stay in touch. A check-in is recommended at least once every 60 days.

When the person gets a job, the waiver case manager will plan for ongoing long-term support services. This includes:

  • Working with the person to identify services needed
  • Identifying a potential waiver employment support service provider in the person's area
  • Ensuring availability of necessary waiver funding in coordination with VRS/SSB

Once the person gets a job, the VRS/SSB counselor, job placement service provider and waiver case manager must work closely to ensure a seamless transition to long-term support services through the waiver (if needed). This is especially important if a new provider will be stepping in.

When a person gets a job, the job search placement service provider will complete the VRS/SSB employment verification form and share it with the VRS/SSB counselor. They will also help the person upload it to My Vault and share it with the waiver case manager.

The VRS/SSB counselor will help the person notify the waiver case manager of the new job (or, with a signed release, will share the information with the case manager directly). The VRS/SSB counselor will also make sure the employment service provider shares the following information with the waiver case manager:

  • Job title
  • Hourly wage
  • Average weekly hours worked
  • Hire and start dates
  • Name of business

The waiver case manager will use this information to authorize waiver employment support services. This could take up to 30 days, so it's important to start the process immediately. The waiver case manager will also coordinate with the waiver employment support services provider (which may or may not be the same provider as the VRS/SSB job placement service provider).

A person's stability date (the date they're considered stable in their job) is determined by the VRS/SSB counselor and the person. This typically happens when:

  • The person is satisfied with the job,
  • The employer is satisfied with the person's performance at work, and
  • Adequate employment supports are in place to ensure continued employment stability

When the person is stable in their job, they're ready to leave VRS/SSB services and transition to waiver employment support services (if needed).

The VRS/SSB counselor will inform the waiver case manager of the stability date. Based on earlier coordination, the waiver case manager should be ready to authorize waiver employment support services and make sure they're provided. The VRS/SSB counselor will stay in contact for up to 90 days and then close the person's VRS/SSB case.

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