Clients sometimes ask about the relationship between Social Security disability and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). For the most part, Social Security disability and VR are on different tracks and do not interact with each other but there are exceptions.
Some people wonder if it is inappropriate for them to seek Social Security disability while working with VR. No, that’s not the case. You don’t have to be permanently disabled to get on Social Security disability. It’s perfectly OK to work with VR to figure out and implement a plan for return to work despite your disability.
Return to work, whether it’s part of a VR plan or not, can affect Social Security disability benefits but there are plenty of work incentives built into Social Security disability. It’s complicated but you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at how much help Social Security gives you.
VR can be something of an aid in getting on Social Security disability. VR often pays for or administers some testing, usually of cognitive abilities or hand and arm dexterity. These test reports can be handy in getting a Social Security disability claim approved.
Sometimes claimants think that because VR has rejected them, that Social Security must approve their disability claim. I wish it worked like that but it doesn’t. Social Security pays virtually no attention to a VR decision not to work with you.
If you are already on Social Security disability, being in a VR program can almost guarantee that you will not be cut off Social Security disability due to medical improvement. The law allows you to stay on Social Security disability as long as you are in a VR program that is designed to improve your chances of staying off the disability rolls in the future. This doesn’t apply once you actually apply for work but if return to school as part of a VR program, you can’t be cut off benefits due to medical improvement while you’re still in school.