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TWE- Trial Work Experience

Categorized In: Case Services - Referral to Eligibility

Categorized In: Case Services - Assessment Services/Planning

Approved Date: December 20, 2022

Owner: Kristi Berst


Federal and State Rehabilitation laws require an individual intends to achieve an employment outcome and meet all the following criteria to be eligible for VR services:

  • must have a significant impairment;  
  • impairment must result in a substantial impediment to employment; 
  • must be able to benefit from services through an employment outcome; and
  • must require Vocational Rehabilitation services to prepare for, enter into, engage in, advance in, or retain gainful employment consistent with one's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.

Trial Work Experience is a worksite-based assessment used to determine eligibility, continued eligibility, or desire to pursue competitive integrated employment that may occur at any time in the VR process.

After application to Nebraska VR, Trial Work Experiences (TWE) may be used in three ways:

1) Prior to any determination that an individual with a disability is unable to benefit from vocational rehabilitation services in terms of an employment outcome because of the severity of that person's disability or that the individual is ineligible for vocational rehabilitation services, staff must conduct an exploration of the individual’s abilities, capabilities, and capacity to perform in realistic work situations;

2) To determine eligibility for individuals with significant disabilities if observation and review of available records is not sufficient or current; or 

3) When an individual is undecided about pursuing competitive integrated employment, TWE may provide a limited time opportunity to explore if the person can and wants to pursue competitive integrated employment (either before or after eligibility determination). If the person has never worked before, information may not be available to make an informed decision.


Trial Work Experiences must be provided in competitive integrated employment settings to the maximum extent possible, consistent with the informed choice and rehabilitation needs of the individual. 

*If an extended (non-integrated) setting is selected, the VR Specialist must tell the individual and document the following:

(a) the individual can work for a limited period of time in a non-integrated setting with supports in place to see if they can and want to pursue competitive integrated employment;

* Examples of non-integrated settings may include an enclave work crew an I/DD service provider has with a local business or a business specifically developed for employing only people with disabilities.

(b) Explain to the individual that the VR program is designed to assist individuals with disabilities to achieve employment outcomes; and

(c) Provide information regarding availability of employment options and VR services to assist the individual to achieve an employment outcome under the VR program 


Important Requirements of a TWE

  • Full consultation with the individual and authorized representative (as applicable) for the purpose and results of a positive or negative outcome.
  • There is no expectation for the assessment/evaluation site to hire an applicant/client following a TWE and this is to be clearly explained to the person and authorized representative so an informed decision can be made to move forward.
  • TWEs may be paid or unpaid and cannot exceed 40 hours in a work week. 
  • Trial Work Experiences are not limited to a maximum number of hours but must be of sufficient variety and over a sufficient period of time. If more than one TWE is needed, clearly summarize in a task note what was learned from previous TWEs, the justification for an additional TWE, and what new information is expected to be provided. With Office Director approval task note, additional hours or sites may be considered in order to identify clear and convincing evidence that an individual can or cannot benefit from the provision of vocational rehabilitation services in terms of an employment outcome. New forms must be completed for each additional site and a separate Assessment Support or Comparable Benefit entered in QE2, depending on payment status
  • The Trial Work Experience Agreement will serve as the required written trial work plan. 
  • If participation in a TWE is not completed within the 60 day eligibility period, an Eligibility Extension must be completed prior to the 60th day.
  • If participation in a TWE is not completed within the 90 day planning period, an IPE Extension must be completed prior to the 90th day. 
  • Appropriate supports must be individualized and arranged by VR. Examples may include, but are not limited to: job coach, interpreter, personal assistance needs, assistive technology devices and services.
  • VR may conduct a background screen in situations where the business requires it. Inform the business the background screen is limited in scope and may not include all charges. VR may reimburse the employer who completes their own background screen.
  • If individual is a recipient of SSI and/or SSDI, consider Benefits Orientation and/or Assessment prior to start of TWE so that an informed decision may be made with regard to potential impact wages may have on benefits.
  • VR is responsible for arranging the general supervision of the client at the TWE site as specified on the OJE/TWE Checklist.
  • At minimum, VR Specialist will have contact the first day and weekly thereafter to review progress with applicant/client, job coach, and business contact; however, more frequent contact is encouraged. If in-person monitoring is not feasible, phone, e-mail, or virtual contact is documented. VR Specialist will use information collected to complete On-the-Job Report bi-weekly. Share information and provide copies to applicant/client, authorized representative, DD service coordinator, and I/DD service provider, as applicable.
  • If progress is interrupted or the TWE is not going well, reconvene as a team for a targeted conversation on intent and goals of the experience.
  • A TWE may be terminated at any point at discretion of VR, host business, applicant/client or the authorized representative.


Paid TWE

An individual may choose to be paid for a TWE amounting to federal minimum wage plus FICA with no benefits paid according to the Bi-Weekly Payroll Schedule. Income from a TWE is not exempt from income tax; hence, they will be issued a W-2 by the employer of record in January. FICA/Medicare deductions are taken and matched by the employer of record. For SSDI/SSI beneficiaries, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers any earned income where FICA/Medicare deductions are withheld as wages.

NOTEEach of the benefits programs administered by Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and each Housing Authority has eligibility requirements—some are income based, while others include additional non-income-based criteria. It is important to inform the client that income earned in an OJE could affect individual / family benefits. Such benefits include, but are not limited to: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Energy Assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and Housing Assistance. The individual/family will need to report income to DHHS, and any other entities providing benefits, such as the local Housing Authority. The program that administers the benefit will determine whether the OJE income can be excluded based on the agency’s eligibility criteria. 

DHHS will request that an employer complete the Earned Income Verification Request, Form MC #00580296.  When VR (NDE) is the employer of record for paid TWE activities, the VR staff will be required to complete the form.

Liability coverage for this arrangement is covered by the State of Nebraska's Workers’ Compensation policy. To report an injury/accident requiring medical attention or to report an injury/accident with no medical attention, staff need to contact NDE HR at 402.471.5026 to obtain the necessary forms/process on behalf of the client. Follow-up by completing and submitting the attached Incident/Accident/Injury Report for Clients & Applicants form. 


Non-paid TWE 

Through informed choice, an individual may prefer not to be paid. The VR Specialist is not to make this decision independently. Situations concerning potential impact on Social Security or other benefits may discourage an individual from wanting to be paid, as may reporting income for a position that is not expected to be long term.

Liability coverage for this arrangement is covered by the State of Nebraska's blanket accident policy. Call 1-800-346-7692 and hit #1 for Claims. Policy Holder: State of Nebraska Policy Number: SRG 0009141321-B. If a workplace injury has occurred, follow-up by completing and submitting the attached Incident/Accident/Injury Report for Clients & Applicants form.

Trial Work Experience Justification 

1. After initial meeting, disability verification documentation is received (school records, medical, psychological, work history, summary of observations, and BPQY, etc.), if ability to benefit from competitive integrated employment (eligibility) remains unclear or if the person is unsure whether to pursue competitive integrated employment, team discussion must occur outlining the next steps towards this decision.The individual is required to receive full consultation of the intent of the TWE and resulting outcomes based participation. 

To the extent existing data does not describe the current functioning of the individual or is unavailable, insufficient, or inappropriate to make an eligibility determination, an assessment of additional data resulting from the provision of vocational rehabilitation services, including trial work experiences, assistive technology devices and services, personal assistance services, and any other support services that are necessary to determine whether an individual is eligible.

2. For the best possible community match and most appropriate supports to be arranged, VR Specialist may need to schedule an interest and daily living activity with the applicant/client unless related information is readily available and current (within the last two years). After conversation with the individual and if information from school and medical records, work history, and summary of observations is not readily available or current, you may proceed with any of the following:

  • Administer Reading-Free or PICS interest inventory;
  • Administer Basic Skills Assessment or select sections of the Street Skills Survival Questionnaire (SSSQ) for examination of daily living abilities;
  • If individual is not able to complete any recommended activities, summarize available information learned from the attempts; and
  • Review results with support team (when possible) to expedite planning for a trial work experience.

3. All efforts will be made to match the applicant’s vocational interests, employment availability within the community of residence, abilities, and capacity to perform in a realistic work setting to the TWE in a competitive integrated setting. In rare circumstances when a competitive integrated setting cannot be arranged to accommodate the specific needs of the applicant, a non-integrated setting may be considered. *The VR Specialist must tell the individual and document that the person can work for a limited period of time in a non-integrated setting with VR support to see if they can and want to pursue Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE).

4. VR staff will locate a business willing and able to provide a trial work experience and ensure the capacity to accommodate all necessary supports, including initial job or task analysis, to allow full participation. Complete Request for Certificate of Self-Insurance for Paid TWE if business contact requests written documentation of workers' compensation coverage. Complete Volunteer/Non-Paid Accident Coverage Letter if employer requests written documentation of liability coverage for Non-Paid TWE. Negotiate essential details of the TWE (start and end dates, evaluation schedule, knowledge, skills, abilities and/or behaviors to be assessed, goals of TWE, and the agreed upon level of follow-up).

5. Click +Assessment Service from the Case Home screen. Add Eligibility as the service and Trial Work Experience as the support and enter the vendor information. 

Add any other Assessment Supports necessary to support the TWE.

For Non-Paid situations, select the +Comparable Service button, add Eligibility as the QE2 Category, then Trial Work Experience as the service.

6. Complete all required forms and obtain signatures from applicant/client, authorized representative, and VR representative. Provide copies to appropriate individuals as specifically indicated on each document and upload signed forms to QE2 Assessment, Trial Work Experience.

For Paid TWE, complete the following and:

(NOTE: These documents may be completed electronically at this time). The local office I-9 contact should either be the staff member completing these forms with the applicant/client or reviewing the documents prior to submittal. 

  • Verify I-9 information with List A documents or with one List B and one List C employment authorization document.  As NDE participates in E-Verify, if a List B document is used for I-9 verification, the List B document must include a photograph.
  • Make clear, preferably color, copies of identification documentation.
  • Verify the birth date on the I-9 with the birth date in QE2.
  • Enter the actual start date of the TWE on the I-9. 
  • At least 5 business days prior to the start date of the TWE,  Scan the I-9, identification documentation, W-4W-4N, Trial Work Experience AgreementOJE/TWE ChecklistDirect Deposit Enrollment and FOCUS Card Enrollment (if electing the debit card) and e-mail to nde.hr@nebraska.gov and VR SO vr.sofiscal@nebraska.gov in order receive approval from NDE HR prior to the start date. Enter the First Name Initial and Full Last Name of the applicant/client and the start date in the subject line of the email.
  • Prepare Case Service Authorization as usual with NE DEPT OF EDUCATION-Rehab Client Training as the provider.
  • Include hourly rate and number of hours.
  • For total encumbrance that includes FICA, multiply hourly rate X maximum hours X 1.0765.
  • Include name, address, and phone number of TWE site provider.
  • Upon State Office approval, print the authorization. TWE cannot start until authorization has been approved. Once approved, State Office staff will mail a letter to the applicant/client with the User ID and Password needed to access the paystub.
  • Upon acknowledgment of receipt by NDE HR, shred original documents.
  • Provide OJE/TWE Timesheets and Bi-Weekly Payroll Schedule to the work site supervisor prior to start of the TWE. Instruct the supervisor on timesheet submission dates.

7. Enter a QE2 task note at the start of a Trial Work Experience, articulating a clear purpose and expected outcome. Refer to Trial Work Experience Agreement sections to organize structure of the task note.

a) Define general on and off-site objectives for the applicant/client specific to:

  • Task- isolated tasks and duties which make up the position being evaluated as a whole.
  • Skill- ability to use one’s knowledge to do a job well. i.e. interpersonal communication, teamwork, problem-solving, customer service, etc. and career cluster skills i.e. mechanical, technical, custodial, medical, educational, etc.
  • Address Functional Capacities and Job Readiness Factors to be assessed on TWE

b)  Indicate rationale and objectives have been discussed with the applicant/client, authorized representative, job coach, and business contact.

 8. Process Timesheet.

  • The TWE on-site supervisor sends the timesheet to the VR Specialist by the due date/time on the Bi-weekly Payroll Schedule in order to pay the client according to the Bi-weekly Payroll Schedule.
  • VR Specialist verifies hours worked, signs timesheet, approves payment, and gives to the Associate.
  • VR Associate must verify: 
    •  Signature of applicant/client, supervisor, and specialist are on the timesheet  
    • Applicant/Client, supervisor, and specialist signatures are dated on or after the last day worked 
    • All data on the timesheet is legible 
    • Time worked has been converted into decimal hours (Time Conversion Chart
    • Calculations are correct
  • VR Associate makes a payment in QE2 by entering the number of hours worked and rate per hour from the timesheet. QE2 automatically figures FICA;
  • Once payment is made in QE2, Associate emails the timesheet to NDE Central Accounting (nde.centralaccounting@nebraska.gov); using TWE Timesheet-FirstIntial+LastName in the subject line;
  • NDE Central Accounting verifies that the payment information entered in QE2, matches the timesheet submitted, and exports for payment on the next bi-weekly payroll;
  • If there is a discrepancy between the timesheet and QE2 or errors on the timesheet that need to be resolved, NDE Central Accounting staff will contact the VR Associate on the timesheet;
  • If changes are needed, Associate will delete the invoice in QE2 and re-enter with the correct information. Invoices in QE2 can be deleted as long as Central Accounting has not processed (exported) the invoice for payment;
  • Timesheets emailed or entered in QE2 after the due date/time on the Bi-Weekly Payroll schedule will be held for the next bi-weekly payroll;
  • Once invoices have been exported by NDE Central Accounting for payment, the bi-weekly date will display as the Batch # on the invoice in QE2.

9. Process Completion or Termination of TWE.

  • Confirm completion or termination of TWE with applicant, authorized representative, site supervisor, and all members of the team and provide a full consultation summarizing the experience, outcome, and next steps.
  • Enter a task note in QE2 when the Trial Work Experience has ended, reference Vocational Evaluation report, TWE, OJE, and WBLE Observations section for full summary.
  • Utilize On-the-Job Report(s) to complete the TWE, OJE, or WBLE Observations section of Vocational Evaluation Report:
  • Evidence how well the objectives were met
  • Discuss functional capacities and job readiness concerns addressed
  • Identify ‘Next Step’ action(s) when possible


There are generally three possible outcomes of Trial Work:

Able to benefit from Nebraska VR Services

The individual successfully participates in the Trial Work Experience(s) and is determined eligible or services resume

  • Complete eligibility, development of IPE or continuation of services. 
  • Individual agrees to be placed on VR wait list during Order of Selection. Once removed from VR wait list, convene team staffing to begin career planning services.
  • Refer client for Benefits Services, as necessary.

Unable to benefit from Nebraska VR Services

Unsuccessful termination of Trial Work Experience 

  • Schedule full consultation with applicant/client, authorized representative, and other members of support team to outline clear and convincing evidence why the person cannot benefit from Nebraska VR services in terms of an employment outcome as evidenced by a description of current and previously collected assessment documentation, including but not limited to TWE(s), On-the-Job Report(s), task analysis summary, objectives of TWE, employer feedback, behavior and attitude of applicant, etc.
  • VR Specialist completes Documentation Checklist for Youth (Age 24 and Younger) or Documentation Checklist for Adults (Age 25 and older) form and collects applicant/client signature. Acknowledge career counseling, self-advocacy, self-determination, and peer mentoring, if provided on the TWE. Refer the person to other community resources Information and Referral (I & R) to Other Programs. Provide copies to all team members.
  • Reference Ineligible/No Longer Eligible chapter and develop Employment Not Expected from Services letter and send to applicant/client and authorized representative. VR Specialist will provide a copy to DD service coordinator and I/DD service provider, if applicable.
  • Complete Ineligibility and select appropriate QE2 exit status 6 or 22, depending on eligibility determination.

Applicant chooses not to pursue Competitive Integrated Employment

Non-participation in an offered Trial Work Experience or completed TWE where employability skills are documented

Approved Date
May 25, 2022 Show this Archived Version
March 09, 2022 Show this Archived Version
February 18, 2021 Show this Archived Version
July 08, 2020 Show this Archived Version

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