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The Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, or OVR, provides vocational rehabilitation services to help persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment. OVR provides services to eligible individuals with disabilities, both directly and through a network of approved vendors. Services are provided on an individualized basis. This guide from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry explains the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and the services it provides.
This guide will help explain vocational rehabilitation — how it works and how you can make it work for you. Your counselor will also explain vocational rehabilitation services and answer any questions that you or anyone in your family may have.
The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) serves people who have disabilities that present a substantial impediment to employment. Services are provided to individuals to prepare for, enter into, engage in or retain employment. OVR has 21 District Offices located around the State. Our counselors work every year with thousands of persons who have physical, mental and emotional disabilities.
You should apply if:
For more information about services, call or write the OVR District Office listed on the back of this brochure that is nearest to where you live.
When you apply to OVR for help with employment, a counselor will be assigned to work with you. The counselor will meet with you face-to-face to get to know you in order to decide how OVR can best assist you to help yourself. With your written consent, your counselor will gather information about your needs, your interests, aptitudes, education, work experience, family and finances. Your counselor will arrange any needed medical examinations and testing, at no cost to you.You will be eligible for OVR services if:
You will know if you are eligible for OVR services within60 days of the date you apply for OVR services, unless
You and your counselor will work together to make informed choices regarding a cooperative plan of action to include a career goal, the services needed to assist you help yourself to get started in or maintain your career, and your responsibilities. This plan of action is called the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).
Deciding on your goal usually takes time. During this time you will receive information and options to assist you in developing a successful program. You will have the opportunity to consider different types of careers,your job skills, chances for employment in your local area, potential earnings, family responsibilities,training, and other matters of importance to you and your family
Your counselor wants you to pick a career, one that you will still want and at which you will still be able to work years from now. Your IPE outlines the steps you will take to obtain a job and can be changed if your needs change. You and your counselor will work together to make any necessary changes.
Some services can help you overcome or lessen your disability; others can directly help you prepare for a career. The services you receive will be arranged to meet your individual needs. Not everyone will need every service.
Support services are provided if they are necessary for you to start your career. Services may include:
It does not cost you anything to apply for services.There is no charge for diagnostic services, vocational evaluation, counseling or job placement assistance. If you are eligible for services, your counselor may ask you to provide documents about your income and expenses. Depending upon your income, you may have to contribute to the cost of OVR services. OVR cannot pay for any services you received before you applied to OVR. Even after you apply, OVR can pay only for those services approved in advance by your counselor.
That depends on your abilities, the career for which you are preparing, and on your individual needs. Most important, it depends on how much responsibility you take for helping yourself to prepare for, start or maintain a career. You can help things move along as quickly as possible if you:
This is your rehabilitation program. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about anything. You are entitled to the best service OVR can give you. Your comments,suggestions and criticisms are important.
If you are an applicant or a customer of OVR and are dissatisfied with a determination or service OVR is providing, please contact your counselor or your counselor’s supervisor to discuss your concerns. You may request a hearing before an impartial Hearing Officer. A written request for a hearing must be made within thirty (30) days. This request must be mailed to or filed with the Director, Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (BVRS), Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, 1521 North Sixth Street, Harrisburg, PA17102. An impartial Hearing Officer will be assigned to hear and decide your case. You will be given the opportunity for an informal administrative review prior to the impartial hearing. At any time during your program you may contact the Client Assistance Program for help.
The Client Assistance Program (CAP) works with you and your counselor to:
Any applicant for OVR services who wants general information or who would like CAP’s involvement during their rehabilitation program can contact CAP for assistance. If your case is about to be or already has been closed by OVR, you may ask CAP to review the case to ensure that you have received maximum benefits from OVR. To contact CAP, call this toll-free number 888-745-2357 Voice/TTY.
A perfect ending is when you have started your career. Even though you are working and your case is closed, it is possible that help can be provided if you begin to have problems with your employment or with your disability. If this happens, please contact your counselor. You may choose to end your involvement with OVR at any time, but you should let your counselor know if you make such a decision. If you do not follow through with the steps you helped to plan; are uncooperative; cannot be located; or if OVR cannot help you reach a vocational goal, your counselor may find it necessary to close your case.
Yes. You may reapply at any time.
You will be treated in a manner consistent with the principles of:
You are in charge of your rehabilitation program and must be willing to help yourself. You must participate actively in setting your vocational goals and work hard to achieve them. It is very important that you talk to your counselor about your needs, your deadlines and anything else that could speed up, slow down or stop you from starting and maintaining a career.Rehabilitation will work better if you:
Your counselor understands how disabilities can get in the way of a career. It is your counselor’s responsibility to help you understand your strengths and the steps needed to overcome your substantial impediment to employment. Your counselor will help you decide on a career that builds on your strengths; give you information,provide guidance and support; and arrange for you to receive the services you need to prepare for, start and maintain a career. We hope that the information in this brochure will help you understand OVR and that it marks the beginning of a successful partnership. If you have any further questions, please ask your counselor.
When OVR does not have enough money to provide services to all eligible individuals, it is required to provide services according to an Order of Selection.Under an Order of Selection, a certain group (or groups)of individuals receive services while others are placed on an indefinite waiting list for when sufficient funds become available. OVR’s Order of Selection places all eligible individuals into one of three groups as follows:
Should you be eligible for OVR services, your counselor will inform you if OVR is on an Order of Selection and whether you will be provided services or placed on a waiting list.
OVR prohibits discrimination on the basis of race,color and national origin, sex, disability, religion, sexual orientation, ancestry, HIV/AIDS status and age. Any applicant or customer of OVR who believes he or she is being discriminated against may contact OVR at the following address:Office of Vocational Rehabilitation1521 North Sixth Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102 Telephone 717-787-5244 (Voice), 717-787-4885 (TTY),800-442-6351* (Voice), 866-830-7327* (TTY)BBVS 717-787-6176 (Voice), 800-622-2842* (Voice)
This resource created by Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry