Vocational Rehabilitation... what should I expect?
April 7, 2016 9:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm tired of staring at the walls and building dungeons for Skyrim... I heard about this Vocational Rehabilitation program and signed up for it. My appointment is in two weeks, and I'd like to know what I'm getting into.

So, I haven't worked in seven years because of my physical and mental issues, which I've talked about in past posts. The biggies are bipolar, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, asthma, and my bad back. But there's a laundry list of things that are wrong with me. Menopause doesn't help. I did, however, get a Master's degree in English with TESOL a few years back with the intention of teaching Adult Basic English. That was before my thyroid quit on me about four years ago. So even my school references are so out of date it's not even funny.

So anyway, I'm getting a little better at this breathing thing (did I mention the COPD?) and over the years we've finally gotten my thyroid levels to "within the normal range". It took some doing but now I can do a few things without wearing myself out. So I'm ready to stop relying on my poor husband for everything. I've worked with government agencies before, but nothing like Vocational Rehabilitation. I just want to know what to expect. I think I might have difficulties with them because of my former nomadic lifestyle -- which lead to sporadic record keeping. Government agencies love their records.

My question really is what should I expect? What was your experience? Will they really work in my best interest to get me employed? My husband can support me for as long as I need him to, but I don't want him to and not working it boring as hell. I'd really like to do something else aside from watching the grass grow.

Just to be clear... I haven't worked, but I'm not on disability or SSI. I've been denied every time I applied, had a fiasco with a lawyer, and now it's been so long since I worked that the last time I applied I got a nice letter saying I no longer qualify. So there's that.
posted by patheral to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have a ton of information to offer, but I do know that VR eligibility is only guaranteed if you receive federal disability benefits. You may not qualify, so mentally prepare yourself for that possibility.

I also know that employers receive incentives to hire through VR in the form of tax credits and sometimes money to provide disability accommodations.

You might get a better idea of how people experience VR by reading Ticket to Work's success stories page. When I investigated TtW I read this and was somewhat disheartened to see a lot of "new career path" type language. So be prepared, if you pass the assessment, to be steered toward something that isn't necessarily related to your degree or employment history.
posted by xyzzy at 11:23 PM on April 7, 2016

When I went to their orientation, I specifically asked if I needed to be on disability to qualify, because i didn't want to waste my time or theirs... and they said that I did not. I'm still prepared for them to tell me they can't help me though... story of my life. Besides, what's the saying? Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
posted by patheral at 12:53 AM on April 8, 2016

My experience with VR was pretty dismal.

I had been a massage therapist and was out of work due to injury. I had already had surgery on both wrists and elbows when I signed up for the program. My Voc Rehab counselor was pretty focused on pushing me into beauty school so I could become a nail tech or a hair stylist- obviously very poor choices for someone who already had surgical intervention for RSIs. I wanted to become an EMT/Paramedic through the program but couldn't get my assigned counselor or her supervisor on board. I quit the program out of pure frustration and incredulity.

So, I guess my advice would be to not expect much. The program as I experienced it was purely for pushing people into the cheapest, easiest path for them, not the best, most fitting path for you.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:07 AM on April 8, 2016

My experience with DVR has been.. frustrating in pace but I haven't yet given up. They have a lengthy process for almost everything they do and every expenditure they make. However, they can be very generous. I received a new, very expensive wheelchair that will allow me to go back to work (it is the price of a house). They may help me modify my vehicle to take it with me. My counselor has suggested new careers such as legal librarian (which would require DVR to pay for both an MLS and a JD), so they are not adverse to grad school. I think having the right counselor (which is luck) is everything. The one I have now is much more can-do than others. If you have the patience, it can be very helpful but you need to go on their schedule. Which is roughly in sync with a glacier in the arctic.
posted by sweltering at 3:08 AM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

My ex husband did Vocational Rehab and was able to transition from being a painting contractor to being a software QA Engineer. He was very patient and persistent and went through all the hoops.
posted by gt2 at 6:01 AM on April 9, 2016

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