Exploring work options with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation

Applicants for Social Security are frequently asked if they can perform any job in the economy. The most common answer is “I don’t know”; another common answer “Maybe”. Unfortunately these answers, while honest, can be detrimental to a claim for benefits.

Eligibility standards for SSDI benefits require that the claimant be precluded from working in any job available in the national economy. Many times, claimants who believe they may be able to work with the right assistance are benefited by contacting the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (“DVR”) (or any other vocational training/assistance program or specialist). The DVR is a state sponsored program designed to help disabled persons develop an employment plan and find work. While not everyone is eligible for the program and not everyone finds a job, contacting the DVR can be beneficial in a number of ways.

First of all, if the DVR is able to find work for the claimant, then that’s a best case, win/win scenario. Second, if an individual is denied services by the DVR based on the severity of their condition, that information can be used at hearing to support a finding of disability by an Administrative Law Judge. Third, if the claimant attempts jobs but is unsuccessful at maintaining those jobs, that information can also be used at hearing.

Utilizing the services of the DVR or any other vocational program or counselor is not required for an award of benefits, but can be valuable information. Any claimant who contacts the DVR however needs to identify him or herself as an individual who has applied for SSDI benefits and is awaiting a decision. As always, it is important to keep your attorney or representative and Social Security up to date on your work related activities.

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