Where your future begins

AgrAbility

Categorized In: Case Services - Assessment Services/Planning

Approved Date: October 20, 2023

Owner: Angela Fujan

VR can only assist with the purchase of assistive technology, adaptive devices, specialized equipment, and/or job site modifications that will correct, compensate, or circumvent the limitations resulting from the disability.

Self-employment business expansion or start up services require the individual to follow the self-employment service procedures. See Program Manual Chapter Self Employment

VR financial assistance is NOT available for the cost of:

  • Purchase of land or buildings; or
  • Construction, renovation or remodeling of buildings or space to be used. 

 

AgrAbility provides an on-farm consultive service and technical assistance to farmers/ranchers to address employment barriers and increase the likelihood of remaining working in agriculture.

Assistive Technology Partnership (ATP) provides assessments for individuals in need of assistive devices; adaptations; or vehicle, home, or work site modifications due to their disability.

Nebraska VR determines the appropriateness of the vocational goal of farmer/rancher and amount of financial assistance available for the agreed upon assistive technology, adaptive devices, specialized equipment which compensate for limitations resulting from a disability. When an agricultural client is referred to AgrAbility for an assessment, VR will also be referred to ATP at the same time, so  a collaborative approach to services can be coordinated.

  1. Conduct Initial Meeting. Explain how VR, AgrAbility and ATP work together. Program Manual Chapter Initial Meeting for further information. In addition to the general information gathered, address the following information to assist in understanding the situation:

a. Begin assessing Eligibility: Ensure the eligibility determination is based on the individual's impairment and resulting functional limitations, not other situational factors (age, referral source, expected outcome, cost, income level, etc.). Nebraska VR can accommodate permanent restrictions, not temporary situations due to recovery. Ensure maximum medical improvement has been met. See Program Manual Chapter Eligibility for further information.

  • Define the impediment to employment. The focus needs to be on the specific difficulty/barrier the individual is experiencing, rather than focusing on gathering information to justify a pre-conceived solution or device. This strategy will result in a clearer picture of the actual work, home, or transportation barriers, so appropriate accommodations can then be explored. 
  • Identify the specific job tasks causing difficulty and inquire into what strategies/accommodations have been tried to circumvent them, if any. What was the outcome? 
  • Address how the job tasks are currently being completed. Is this a safe and long-term solution?
  • Are the daily living barriers? Do they appear to need additional services? (ATP for home, vehicle, etc.).

b. Determine the client is actively working in the business and it is the primary source of their income. (Requirement for VR to support self-employment)

c. Define the type of employment: Self-employment start up or business expansion need to follow the Program Manual Chapter Self Employment chapter

  • Self-employment: Existing, client-owned, agriculture business that generates excess cash flow from profitable operations by providing specific goods, products, or billable services; earn income directly from one's own trade or profession.
  • Partnership/Corporation: Client is co-owner AND actively working in the business but may not own the majority of the business. Often the duties are divided among the partners, so discuss what specific duties each partner performs to determine the separate and shared duties. Partners will need to be involved in the worksite assessment process and possible financial contribution discussion if they will also benefit from the accommodations.  
  • Employee: Client is an employee of an agriculture business. Employers are responsible for reasonable accommodations of employees on the worksite. The employer will need to be involved in the assessment process and financial contribution discussion. If the client is an employee, there is no need for the Viability Report, as the client is not self-employed.

d. Discuss next steps: Inform the client that eligibility for VR services does not guarantee funding of the requested item(s) or service(s)Nebraska VR works with AgrAbility and ATP to conduct an assessment to determine potential accommodations. 

  1. Determine viability of the business for self-employed and partnerships only. Hourly wage employees can skip to #4. 

a. Explain VR must determine the financial viability of the farm or ranch for self-employed and partnerships by obtaining 3 years of tax forms and financial statements: 

  • Federal tax returns (1040 form) First 2 pages ONLY to include the total income portion, not the entire tax return.
  • Schedule F (farm income) of the tax returns. If the business is a corporation, gather the business and personal taxes. 
  • Balance sheet (assets and liabilities) dated and signed by the client. A balance sheet can be defined as a statement of a business’s assets, liabilities, and net worth. Self-employed individuals utilize balance sheets at the end of an accounting period to provide a fiscal snapshot of a business at that point in time. Comparison of balance sheets over years helps to gauge the financial health of a business.

b. Once all financial information is gathered, refer for Viability Assessment by completing ONE email to Glenn Rauert with all the required information. Contact information: glenn@hamilton.net and 402-631-7245 and include:

  • Completed Viability Referral Form (attached below in forms)
  • ALL the financial information listed above for the required 3 years.
  • Authorize four (4) hours at $90 per hour for viability assessment.
  1. Self-Employment Team Consultation of Viability Report. Upon the Specialist receiving the Viability Report, ensure the Program Director of Counseling is copied to arrange a consultation with the State Office Self-Employment Team, the VR Specialist, and Office Director to review the report and discuss next step. Do not refer to AgrAbility and ATP for an assessment until this meeting has occurred.
  2. VR Specialist consults with the client on the next steps
    • Not viable. Nebraska VR may not be able to agree with the vocational goal of farmer/rancher. If the client is interested, VR can consider alternative occupations and provide services to reach the mutually agreed competitive employment goal. If the individual is not interested in alternative employment options, the case will need to be referred to appropriate resources to include AgrAbility who specializes in agricultural supports and the VR case will be closed.
    • Viable - Review positive Viability Report with the client, discuss referral to AgrAbility and ATP for agricultural worksite assessment and completion of the Service and Device Application (S&D) for items expected to exceed $2,000. To expediate services, it is important to complete the S&D Application when referring to AgrAbility and ATP to allow for a determination and exploration of readily available resources prior to receiving the completed AgrAbility Report. See Program Chapter Comparable Services.
  3. AgrAbility and ATP Referral. VR, AgrAbility, and ATP work collaboratively to address the needs of farmers/ranchers experiencing disabilities. Nebraska VR is solely responsible to determine if a vocational goal of farming/ranching can be supported, approval of recommended accommodations and the amount of VR funding available. 
  • Add Assessment Service: QE2 Career Planning- Assessment Supports- Rehab Technology-Rehab Engineering
  • Authorize $2000 for Rehab Technology-Rehab Engineering assessment and for mileage (NDE rate) to the farm/ranch site to AgrAbility as part of referral process. Authorization: . Payment for hotel may be an additional cost and authorized at state rate.
  • Complete both AgrAbility and ATP Referral forms simultaneously. AgrAbility will coordinate the visit by contacting the ATP Program Coordinator for the assigned ATP Technology Specialist and arrange a time the client, VR, ATP, and AgrAbility to meet. 
  • It is important for the VR Specialist to accompany the AgrAbility and ATP staff to the agricultural worksite for the assessment in order to be a part of discussions and decisions regarding recommended accommodations and assistive devices. Nebraska VR determines what accommodations are essential and how they will be funded.
  1. Team Consultation of AgrAbility and ATP recommendations. A virtual meeting will be arranged by the Program Director of Counseling once notified by the VR Specialist or AgrAbility the case is ready to discuss preliminary recommendations to include AgrAbility, ATP Technology Specialist, ATP Program Coordinator, Self-Employment Team, VR Specialist and Office Director. This meeting is to ensure AgrAbility, ATP, and VR agree to the needed accommodations prior to finalizing the report for statewide consistency. VR needs to ensure the recommended accommodations and assistive devices are specifically required to accommodate the disability and necessary for the farmer/rancher to perform essential functions of maintaining the job, not solely for convenience and efficiency.​​​​ Team will address the following questions to ensure the recommended assistive devices are directly related to the individual's impairment, not based on other justifications or rationale:
  • Does the requested services or equipment enable the client to perform the job independently or will continued supports/assistance still be required?
  • Will the requested services or equipment solve all or only part of the essential job tasks? How will the remaining tasks be completed?
  • Consider how often the device will be utilize and if it is cost effective or is hiring out for the task more fiscally responsible? 
  • Does it make sense to exchange duties with a hired hand or partner, if these individuals are available?
  • Is the individual able to maintain the upkeep of the requested equipment, if necessary?
  • Could there be other solutions?
  • Does the client appear to need additional services?
  1. VR Specialist reviews assessment report(s), funding email, and Resource Letter with the client. 
    • Discuss the recommended accommodations and the client's perception of the recommendations. Do they meet their needs? Are they comfortable operating the equipment?
    • Discuss the questions in #6, as applicable.
    • Ensure the individual can maintain the upkeep of the requested equipment, if necessary.
    • Resolve any issues between VR, AgrAbility, ATP and/or the farmer/rancher as to the appropriateness of the vocational goal, the viability of the business, the recommended technology, or accommodations VR is willing to fund. 
    • Discuss funding of recommended items by first considering readily available community resources identified through the Resource Letter and existing benefits (insurance, employer, etc.).
    • Remind the client Nebraska VR needs to consider the least cost option and, 
    • Address the client's ability to fund the service or equipment above Rule 72 in whole or part, as applicable. See Program Manual Authorizing Case Services 
  2. Determine appropriateness of vocational goal. Use staff observation, information provided by the individual, medical information, and reports (Viability, AgrAbility and ATP, as applicable). Ensure the recommended assistive devices are necessary to accommodate the disability of the farmer/rancher to perform the essential job tasks and not solely for convenience and efficiency. Ensure the employment outcome is consistent with the individual's unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.
  3. Develop IPE. If VR determines the goal to be appropriate, the farm/ranch to a viable business and the goods and services to be necessary. 
  4. Task note all major decisions to include justification of purchases, why some items were not supported, client contribution and the result of the search for comparable services and benefits. 
  5. Authorize. See Program Manual Authorizing Case Services 
    • Assistive Device Non-Prescriptive- individual items exceeding $2,000 or Rule 72 ($6,000) require an Office Director approval. See VRIS Exceptions and Approvals 
    • Authorize mileage for AgrAbility to travel to ensure assistive devices have been secured, modifications completed, and any equipment provided is working properly and is being used by the farmer/rancher correctly.
  6. Ensure signed Acceptance Agreement form is received from ATP and file in client's VR casefile.
  7. Provide Follow-up with AgrAbility and the client to ensure all modifications and equipment are working properly and being used by the farmer/rancher correctly. If the client is farm labor, also follow up with the employer. 

Approved Date
October 16, 2023 Show this Archived Version
June 02, 2023 Show this Archived Version
June 14, 2021 Show this Archived Version
October 02, 2018 Show this Archived Version
July 05, 2017 Show this Archived Version


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