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Transition From Substance Abuse To Recovery and Work

A Guide for Vocational Rehabilitation

General Information

The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) is a state agency that helps eligible individuals with disabilities prepare for, obtain or maintain a job.

Contact Information

The address and phone number for the OVR District Office in your area is listed in the back of this guide.

Participating in the OVR Process

  • Referral
  • Initial Interview
  • Eligibility Determination
  • Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE)
  • Participation in Services
  • Job Search Activities
  • Employment and Case Closure

Referring Individuals

Any individual with a disability who may need vocational guidance and assistance in pursuing competitive employment should be considered for referral to OVR. A referral to OVR can be made by anyone, including the individual, a family member, or drug and alcohol personnel.

The Initial Referral

At the time of referral, OVR will need the following information about the individual:
  • The individual's name, address, telephone number, date of birth, and social security number.
  • A brief statement about the individual's disability.
  • The name of the individual's therapist and treatment facility.
  • Purpose of referral, including employment goals, if known.

After a Referral Is Made

As a referral is made, OVR will need the following information from drug and alcohol records:
  • Documentation of the individual's disability, which should include available medical and psychological information.
  • Vocational tests and reports that are available.
  • Information about the individual's employment strengths and weaknesses (e.g., therapist observations).

The Initial Interview

Following the referral, an OVR Counselor will contact the individual to schedule an initial interview. During the interview, the individual should expect to discuss their disability and how it affects their ability to work. The individual also should be prepared to provide the following information to OVR during the meeting:
  • A complete medical history including names and addresses of doctors and specialists, hospital admissions, names of medications, and previous treatment experiences.
  • An educational history.
  • A job history, including volunteer and unpaid work experience, if applicable.

Determining Eligibility

Since OVR's program is based on eligibility for services and not an entitlement program, an individual must meet eligibility requirements. First, the counselor must determine that the individual has a disability. The counselor also must determine that the individual's disability substantially interferes with his or her ability to prepare for, obtain or maintain a job. There must be a demonstrated need for OVR services. The individual has to be able to benefit from services to achieve a competitive employment outcome.
Only an OVR counselor, who has special training and experience, can determine if an individual is eligible for OVR services. Medical records, staff observations, and an individual's self evaluation will help the OVR counselor make an eligibility determination.

Order of Selection

Since OVR does not have the resources available to serve all individuals in Pennsylvania who are eligible, OVR has established an Order of Selection. This is based upon significant limitations in
  • Physical Mobility
  • Dexterity and Coordination
  • Physical Tolerance
  • Personal Behaviors
  • Capacity to Learn
  • Medical Interventions
  • Communication
  • Self Direction
An OVR counselor will determine the severity of an individual's disability after eligibility has been established.

Individual Plan for Employment (IPE)

The cornerstone of the OVR process is the vocational counseling and guidance provided by an OVR counselor. After an individual is determined to be eligible and meets the order of selection criteria, the individual will work closely with an OVR counselor to identify an employment goal and jointly develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). The IPE is designed by the individual and the OVR counselor to address the unique vocational needs of the individual. The individuals' interests, strengths, and abilities guide the IPE development.
the length of time from OVR referral to successful competitive employment will vary widely depending on the content of the IPE and the individual circumstance of each person.

Financial Need

The Financial Needs Test (FNT) determines to what extent the individual may be required to contribute toward the cost of certain OVR services. These services will be outlined in the Individualized Plan for Employment. However, vocational counseling and guidance, assessment, diagnostic services, vocational evaluation, interpreter, reader, personal assistance services, and job placement are always provided at no cost to the individual.

Employment and Case Closure

OVR services will end when an individual achieves their vocational goal and is successfully, competitively employed. Upon completion of OVR services, an individual's case will be closed. However, if necessary, OVR services may be available after a case is closed to ensure that the individual is able to maintain their employment should problems arise.
Please note: Act 148 confidentiality is extremely important to the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation process. The release of information about an individual who is treated for or is referred for treatment of alcohol or drug abuse, or the medical results of such abuse, is governed by Federal Law 42 U.S.C. 290 dd-2, Federal Regulation 42 CFR Part 2, PA State Law 71 P.S. 1690. 018 (Act 63) and PA State Regulation 28 PA Code Subsection 709.28 and 4 PA Code Subsection 255.5 governing the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records, and Act 148 Confidentiality of HIV Related Information.
Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.
Equal Opportunity Employer/Program.
OVR-808 Rev. 05/07