Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and State Services for the Blind (SSB)

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a process that helps people with substantial limitations due to disability achieve their employment goals. You will work with a qualified Vocational Rehabilitation counselor to identify your strengths and employment needs. If you have a physical or emotional disability, services are offered by Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS). If you are blind or have a substantial visual impairment, services are offered by State Services for the Blind (SSB).

Your VR counselor will review your medical records, Individualized Education Program (if you’re in high school) and Social Security record to determine if you are eligible for services. If you are eligible, the counselor will then work with you to figure out your needs by discussing your interests, work history, education, abilities, and personality traits. Once you’ve set a work-related goal, you and your counselor will identify the services that you need to help you achieve it. Services are individualized to meet your needs, but may include counseling, education, job skill training, job placement assistance, employer education, assistive technology, and other services to help you get and keep a job.

To find out more about how to qualify, apply, or appeal a decision, visit the DB101 section on Programs that Support Work.

Support from Ticket to Work

Even if you qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation Services or State Services for the Blind, you may be placed on a waiting list. Other programs also provide many of the support services offered by VR. For example, if you participate in the Ticket to Work Program, you can get many services through your Employment Network. You can qualify for the Ticket to Work Program, if you get disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. You can read more about the Ticket to Work Program on DB101.

Additional Job Supports

In addition to the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services and State Services for the Blind (SSB) described above that help disabled people prepare for and enter the workforce, Minnesota also offers other supports for people with disabilities.

Long-Term Job Supports

Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services have a Community Partners Program that offers long-term job supports. These supports are offered under contract with a local community rehabilitation provider to help you keep your job and move ahead in your career. Long-term job supports — also called “ongoing supports” or “extended services” — typically offer help with training or retraining on:

  • Job tasks
  • Dealing with schedule changes
  • Adjusting to new supervisors
  • Promotion to new job tasks or positions, and
  • Managing changes in nonwork environments or life activities that affect work performance.

Long-term job support services fall within 3 categories: Supported Employment, Community Employment, and Center-Based Employment.

Supported Employment

A person who gets Supported Employment Services has a job not specifically for people with disabilities, in an integrated setting working alongside with coworkers without disabilities, and earns the same wages and benefits as coworkers without disabilities.

Long-term Supported Employment Services can vary, because they are tailored to each person’s needs. The Supported Employment Services may include:

  • Communication technology
  • Help communicating with coworkers and supervisors
  • Education of coworkers and supervisors
  • Transportation help

Community Employment

Community employment refers to jobs where the work crew includes a high percentage of people with disabilities. In community employment, the workers often are paid less than the usual wage for similar work done by people without disabilities. Community employment offers intensive job supports and often is a step toward reaching supported employment.

Center-Based Employment

Center-based employment is typically a job in industrial production or food or janitorial service in a community rehabilitation program. You will perform standard work assignments while developing your work skills and earning wages based on your production rate. The focus of the service is on disability-related issues that present real or perceived obstacles to competitive employment open to everyone.

Center-based and community employment for people with developmental disabilities is discussed later in this article in the Day Training & Habilitation (DT&H) section.

Supported Employment for Persons Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation can give referrals for supported employment services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These services typically are available from the Minnesota Employment Center for Persons Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (MEC). MEC helps people who are deaf or hard of hearing with finding a job, job coaching, keeping a job, training, and technical assistance.

Long-Term Supports for People with Serious Mental Illness

Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services also offer statewide employment services for people with serious mental illness through Coordinated Employability Projects. For information about the Coordinated Employability Projects, ask for a referral from your Vocational Rehabilitation counselor.

Job Coach

A job coach is an employment specialist who assists people after they get a job. A job coach can help you in a variety of ways, including:

  • One-on-one training at a job site for both the person with a disability and the employer, and
  • Ongoing support to the person with a disability, and to the employer as needed, to help the disabled person keep the job.

Finding a Job Coach

You may be referred to a job coach by your Vocational Rehabilitation counselor or long-term supports provider. Alternatively, if you participate in the Ticket to Work Program, it can help you get a job coach.