OVR Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where do I Begin?

Youth with a disability who meet eligibility criteria for employment and are interested in working should be referred to the local OVR office.

• Referral can be made up to 2 years prior to graduation and can be made by anyone

• Initial Interview – Be prepared to:

     • Provide a medical history related to the youth’s disability (names and addresses of doctors and specialists, hospital admissions, names of medications)
     • Discuss how the youth’s disability may affect his or her ability to work
     • Provide an education history/Individualized Education Program (IEP) and job history
      • Bring copies of any vocational tests and reports that may be available

What are the Eligibility Criteria?

• Unlike the entitlement services provided by special education, OVR is an eligibility program, which means a referred youth must meet the following criteria to qualify for services:
     • Have a disability that is a physical, mental, or emotional impairment, which results in a substantial impediment to employment
     • Expected to benefit in terms of an employment outcome from services provided
     • Be prepared to enter, engage in, or retain competitive (20 hours per week, minimum wage, integrated community setting) employment
      • Eligibility for services is determined within 60 days by a qualified VR counselor

What Happens Next?

• If eligible, services will be provided based on severity of disability (federal law)

• An Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) will be jointly developed by the individual and OVR counselor

• The goals of the IPE and IEP should support the youth’s employment outcome

• A financial needs test will determine what costs will be covered by OVR and what the youth or family may be required to contribute

• Diagnosticservices, vocational evaluations, vocational counseling and guidance, and job placement services are always provided by OVR at no cost to the youth and/or family.

Will my income be used to determine eligibility?

The financial needs test determines to what extent you may be required to contribute toward the cost of certain OVR services. These services will be outlined in the IPE. However, diagnostic and evaluation services, vocational counseling and guidance are always provided without regard to your and/or family income. The financial needs test (FNT), using documented household income, determines to what extent you and your family may be required to contribute toward the cost of certain OVR services. These services will be outline in the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). Documentation of household income will be requested such as a tax return, W2, pay stubs, etc. If the individual is receiving Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), a copy of your monthly awards letter will be required Diagnostic and evaluation services, vocational counseling and guidance, rehabilitation teaching, orientation and mobility training, and job placement assistance are always provided regardless of you and/or your family’s income.

What is an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE)?

The cornerstone of the OVR process is vocational counseling and guidance provided by an OVR Counselor. After the student is determined eligible and meets the Order of Selection criteria, he/she will work closely with an OVR Counselor to clearly define an employment goal and jointly develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). The IPE is developed by the student and the OVR Counselor to meet the student’s unique vocational strengths and needs. The student’s interests, strengths, and abilities guide the IPE development. Plan will be developed based on results of testing and evaluations as well as clients interests and aptitudes. Job market and employability will also be considered. The IPE will identify the student’s vocational goal as well as the services and service providers that will be utilized to assist the student to reach that specific c goal. The length of time from OVR referral to successful employment will vary widely depending on the content of the IPE and the unique circumstances of each student.

What Types of Services may be Included in the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE)?

• If eligible, services will be provided based on severity of disability (federal law)

• An Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) will be jointly developed by the individual and OVR counselor

• The goals of the IPE and IEP should support the youth’s employment outcome

• A financial needs test will determine what costs will be covered by OVR and what the youth or family may be required to contribute

• Diagnostic services, vocational evaluations, vocational counseling and guidance, and job placement services are always provided by OVR at no cost to the youth and/or family

What Types of Services may be Included in the IPE?

• Diagnostic and Vocational Evaluations

• Counseling, Guidance, and Placement Services

• Training Services and Supports

• Physical Restoration Services

• Assistive Technology Services

What does coordination of services mean?

You may require support from other public, private or community agencies that will serve a role in the student’s Transition from School to Work. These agencies are key to the provision of long-term supports that the student may need to achieve and maintain his/her employment and independence as an adult. Representatives of these agencies should also be invited to participate in the development and implementation of a Transition Plan while you are still in school. These agencies include but are not limited to:
• Department of Public Welfare
• Office of Intellectual Disabilities
• Office of Mental Health
• Bureau of Autism Services
 • Office of Long-Term Living
• Office of Children, Youth, and Families
• Department of Health
• Department of Labor and Industry
• Workforce Investment Act Youth Program • Institutions of Higher Education
• Other public/private agencies and community resources

How long can I remain involved with OVR? What happens after the completion of the program?

• OVR services will end when the youth achieves the IPE goals and is successfully employed for at least 90 days. The case will then be closed.

• If necessary, OVR post-employment services are available after the case is closed.

What are the additional programs offered by OVR?

• Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (specialized children services, orientation and mobility, rehabilitation teaching) http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/blindness_and_visual_services/10367

• Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (information and referral, advocacy, interpreter database)
http://www.dli.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/office_for_the_deaf___hard_of_hearing/10371

• Hiram G. Andrews Center (comprehensive vocational training program)
http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=747454&mode=2

What is School to Work Transition?
School to Work Transition serves as a bridge from school to work and adult life. It helps prepare youth and young adults with disabilities for life after high school.

When does it start and who should apply?

OVR may accept referrals of youth and young adults with disabilities at least two years prior to graduation, or earlier on a case by case basis when appropriate. Any youth or young adult with any type of disability who may need vocational counseling and guidance as well as assistance in preparing for, obtaining or maintaining competitive employment may apply for OVR services.

How do I become involved?

A youth or young adult with an IEP, 504 plan or a disability can refer themselves for vocational rehabilitation services. A parent/guardian/ advocate or school personnel can also initiate the referral. Youth under the age of 18 must have the permission of a parent/guardian to become involved with OVR services. A vocational counselor will review the referral and set up an interview to complete an application and determine if you meet the eligibility requirements.

Adapted from:
Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) Tip Sheet
OVR Transition Guide for Professionals, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Office of Vocational Rehabilitation