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Vocational Rehabilitation Program


Picture of man in rehabilitation pool, with slogan 'Rehabilitation can start the journey to independence'.The Social Security Act allows SSA to pay vocational rehabilitation providers for the cost of the services they furnish to people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments based on disability or blindness if certain conditions are met. The vocational rehabilitation services must result in return to work for at least nine continuous months at a substantial earnings level, which is referred to as substantial gainful activity. The required earnings levels change from year to year.


Participation in a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program through your state VR agency can affect you in a number of ways, including:

           Vocational Assistance: Your VR agency may help you prepare for, find, and keep a job through one or more of the many VR services;

           Continued Payment Under a VR Program (Section 301 Benefits): If you are participating in a VR program and SSA determines that you have recovered from your disability, you may be able to continue receiving SSI payments or SSDI benefits until you have completed your VR program. To qualify: (1) you must be participating in an approved vocational rehabilitation program before your disability ended; and (2) SSA must review the situation and decide that your continued participation in the VR program would increase the likelihood of your permanent removal from the disability benefit rolls.

           Termination for Refusal to Participate: Effective on January 1, 2001, no sanction actions will be taken by SSA due to refusal of VR services.


NOTE: Effective January 1, 2001, sections of the Social Security Act which had previously provided for deductions from the benefits of disabled SSDI beneficiaries and for suspension of payments to disabled and blind SSI recipients who refused to accept VR services under an appropriate State program and did not have "good cause" for such refusal were repealed. These changes were part of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act (TWWIIA) of 1999.

Effective January 1, 2001, SSA reinstated benefits to those beneficiaries whose benefits were suspended due to refusal of VR services, provided that benefits were otherwise payable to the beneficiary. State VR agencies and Alternate Participants (AP) no longer report situations to SSA in which beneficiaries refuse to continue to participate in a VR program after signing an employment plan.

Earlier Rules:
Information about the rules in effect prior to January 1, 2001 about refusal of VR services may be found in the following topics:
SSI Recipients: Note: If you refuse VR services you may lose SSI benefits
SSDI Beneficiaries: Note: If you refuse VR services your SSDI cash benefit may stop

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