Chapter 14.2 Contents:​

 

[REVISED: 12/3/18]

  1. Comparable benefits means services and benefits that are provided or paid for, in whole or in part, by other federal, state, or local public agencies, by health insurance, or by employee benefits; available to the individual at the time needed under the Employment Plan; and commensurate to the services that the individual would otherwise receive from DRS (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.5 (c)(10)).

  2. Use of comparable benefits and exceptions 
    The counselor shall use comparable benefits before using VR funds, unless it:

    Exception 1: would interrupt or delay progress towards the employment outcome on the Employment Plan  or PES Plan
     

    Exception 2:. would interrupt or delay or an immediate job placement
     

    Exception 3: is a medical, including mental health, service needed to address an extreme medical risk based on medical evidence provided by an appropriate licensed medical professional (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.53). “Extreme medical risk” means a probability of substantially increasing client functional impairment or death if medical services, including mental health services, are not provided expeditiously (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.5 (c)(21). Emergency procurement procedure may be used in lieu of written authorization; see Chapter 14.1, PURCHASING, Policy 4
     

    Exception 4: is diagnostic, evaluation, and assessment services needed to determine eligibility or VR needs (and assign priority category if DRS is on Order Of Selection).  However, if it is a physical restoration service, see Chapter 8.14, PHYSRES, Policy 1, Section A1 and Section D.  For Workers Compensation case, see subsection c of this policy.  For comparable benefit resources for assistive technology that is durable medical equipment, see Chapter 8.2, AT, Policy 1.  
     

    Exception 5: is VR counseling, guidance, and referral services, including information and support services to assist the individual in exercising informed choice.
     

    Exception 6: is vocational and other training services including personal and work adjustment training, books (including alternative book formats accessible by computer and taped books), tools, and other training materials. However, for training that participates in the financial aid program, see Chapter 7, SCHOOL, Policy 1, Section A1. For Workers’ Compensation cases, for comparable benefits for training services, see Chapter 5, PLAN, Policy 2, Section D6. Additional requirements for Training Employment Plan.
     

    Exception 7: is work-related placement services (including job search, job placement, 90-day follow-up services, and follow-along services) provided by DRS staff, not a vendor.
     

    Exception 8: is rehabilitation technology (including rehabilitation engineering, assistive technology devices, and assistive technology services). However, if a comparable benefit exists and is readily available, the counselor shall use it first.
     

    Exception 9: is information and referral services for clients not assigned to an open priority category if DRS is on Order Of Selection (Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended in 1998 Title I Section 101(a)(5)).
     

    Exception 10: is not available at the time needed.  If a comparable benefit exists but is not available at the time needed, DRS shall provide the VR service until the comparable benefit becomes available. Once the comparable benefit becomes available, the counselor shall use it before using VR funds, and shall obtain reimbursement from the third party for costs DRS incurred that were the third party’s obligation, and should advise the client of consumer rights under any applicable law (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).


  3. Workers’ Compensation cases

    1. Workers’ Compensation benefits shall be used before other medical insurance (e.g., Medicaid, Medicare, Veteran’s Benefits, private insurance) (per Chapter 5, PLAN, Policy 2, Section D6. Additional requirements for Training Employment Plan.
       
    1. Workers Compensation is not a comparable benefit if the required VR service is not associated with the injury which generated the Workers’ Compensation claim (i.e., a secondary disability which a medical report indicates is unrelated to the work-related injury).  
       
    2. The counselor may use VR funds to authorize a VR service when there is documentation that the insurance carrier or self-insured employer refuses to provide a comparable benefit.  If the refusal is for a training service, the counselor provides the VR service and should advise the client to request a hearing from the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Under no circumstances shall DARS staff personally initiate the Workers’ Compensation Commission hearing request.  

  4. Personal injury lien
    If the disability is the result of a personal injury and the client has taken, or is planning to take, personal injury legal action, the counselor shall follow policy and procedures in Chapter 2.1, APPLICATION, Policy 7to establish a lien so DARS can be reimbursed for the cost of the VR services provided.

  5. Employers and training vendors
    Employers and training vendors are only responsible for providing VR clients with goods, paying certification fees, etc. that are provided to all employees in the same job position or to all individuals in the same training program.  For example, health insurance or supervisor training is a comparable benefit if it is an employee benefit and work tools and uniforms are not a comparable benefit if the employer does not provide it to all employees in the same job position.  Otherwise, employers and vendors are not considered to be a comparable benefit (per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.5 (c)(10)).  For employer responsibility under ADA for reasonable job and workplace accommodation, see Chapter 8.2, AT, Policy 1. 

  6. Consumer responsibilities
    The VR client shall be responsible for applying for appropriate comparable benefits identified by the counselor.

  7. For comparable benefits resources, see the policy for the specific service.

  8. Counselor Role
    The counselor shall be responsible for:
    1. ​​​identifying providers of comparable benefits,
    2. assisting the individual in obtaining those resources,
    3. documenting efforts undertaken to identify comparable benefits, and
    4. documenting available comparable benefits on the Employment Plan, Trial Work Experiences Plan, Extended Evaluation Plan, and Post Employment Services Plan. For more information on comparable benefit documentation on the Employment Plan, see Chapter 5, PLAN, Policy 

​​​9.  Individuals Jointly Served by DARS and the Depa​rtment for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI)                                 
    ​Comparable benefits, including services to be provided/funded by DBVI, should be included in the individual's IPE. See Chapter 16, INDIVIDUALS JOINTLY SERVED BY DARS AND THE DEPARTMENT FOR THE BLIND AND VISION IMPAIRED (DBVI), Policy 7.​​​

 
 
                  

Links to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) are currently unavailable while we await federal changes to the vocational rehabilitation program. Upon promulgation of the final regulations the links will be updated and activated.