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Eligibility & Eligibility Extension

Status: Archived

Approved Date: October 02, 2019

Eligibility Determinations:

Must be made within 60 days of application date.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Permanent Impairment 
    • Impairment documented by report and/or observation
    • If the individual is still in recovery, it may be too soon to determine permanent functional limitations or the severity.
    • Primary impairment cannot be vision. Impairments of vision can be secondary or tertiary, if the do not meet NCBVI eligibility criteria.
  • Impediment to Employment
    • Functional limitations of the impairment result in a substantial impediment to employment. (Use Functional Capacity Checklist and Disability Handbook to assist in determining the appropriate limitations and priority group assignment)
  • Requires VR Service
    • Number, type and duration of services required to overcome the person's functional limitations and employment impediments
  • Can Benefit from VR Services and achieve an employment outcome 
    • Assumed unless clear and convincing evidence to the contrary (See VRIS: Closing the Case - ineligible, No Longer Eligible)
  • Can Legally Work (See VRIS: Application to Employment Program)
    • If non-citizen, lawful presence and eligibility to work verified through SAVE and documented on Citizenship screen

Eligibility Extension is required prior to exceeding the 60 day timeframe (completed in QE2 no later than day 59)



  1. Determine the impairment.
    • Impairments are physiologic, biologic, or psychological dysfunctions, disorders, or losses.
    • Physical impairments are produced by any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the major body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.
    • Mental impairments are produced by any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, mental or emotional illness, and specific learning disabilities.
    • Impairments exist regardless of their impact (or lack of impact) on the everyday activities of the person. Determine the existence of a permanent impairment without regard to medications, prostheses, or assistive devices that may control symptoms or correct losses. A person with epilepsy has an impairment even though medications may control symptoms of the disorder. A person with a hearing loss has an impairment even though the condition is correctable with a hearing aid.
    • Determine the primary impairment by assessing which impairment causes the greatest impediment to employment. The primary impairment must be recorded in QE2 and verified either through observation, or by gathering medical information. Other apparent impairments should be noted in QE2 but do not require verification.
      • Alcohol and/or drug abuse or dependence, determine the individual is not actively using and eligibility decision is not being made based on length of sobriety. (See Background and Training below for more information)
      • Borderline intellectual functioning (see Background and Training below).
      • Hearing loss. (see VRIS Eligibility – Hearing Loss).
      • The Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NCBVI) serves individuals who experience visual impairments. Refer any individual who has an impairment of vision to NCBVI. If the individual is not eligible for NCBVI services based on the visual impairment, VR may assess eligibility based on other impairments. VR cannot serve any individual whose only disability is loss of vision. (See VRIS Eligibility - Vision/Sight)
      For further disability specific information refer to the DIsability Handbook.
    • For Social Security, Veterans, and Worker's Compensation information see VRIS - Case Services - Referral to Eligibility.
  2. Verify the impairment.
    • Observation. VR specialist observation can be used, when possible, to determine impairment. VR staff are not ‘diagnosing’ but are observing that a person does appear to have an impairment. Observation may be used to verify impairments when:
      • ​​​​the VR specialist can actually see the impairment (amputation, severe burns, etc.); or
      • the individual requires use of assistive technology (use of wheelchair, use of mobility aids, use of hearing aids, etc.).
    • Reports. Obtain report from person licensed or certified to make a diagnosis (see Background and Training - Who Can Diagnose in this chapter). If observation is not possible you must obtain some other type of information to verify the impairment. This might include:
      • Request for Medical Information form; copies of medical or psychological reports from the source or from the individual; or
      • MDT reports from secondary schools (acceptable as the individuals licensed to make diagnoses take part in the diagnosis). IEP reports are not acceptable as this is the school's plan for services, not a diagnostic tool. 
      • As a last resort, examinations may be funded to obtain reports. Assure the individual understands that psychological testing may result in a mental health diagnosis and document this discussion in the task notes.
  3. Determine the substantial impediment to employment.
    • Investigate how the impairment hinders an individual from preparing for, entering into, engaging in, or retaining employment consistent with their abilities and capabilities. (Explore work history,  Functional Capacity Checklist and Disability Handbook)
  4. Verify the substantial impediment to employment:
    • Currently Working. It is possible for a person to meet this criteria if currently working, but underemployed. The key is whether the physical or mental impairment hinders the individual from preparing for, entering into, engaging in, retaining employment consistent with their abilities and capabilities.
    • Utilize existing information. In determining whether the person's physical or mental impairment causes or results in a substantial impediment to employment use existing information to the maximum extent possible. This would include VR specialist observations, information provided by other sources such as schools, work experiences and information provided by the individual or family members. Often, information provided by the individual and family members is sufficient for determining whether an impairment causes a substantial impediment to employment.
    • New or recent physical or mental impairments, the duration or expected duration of limitations and their seriousness need to be considered. Determine whether current functional limitations will be resolved or significantly reduced in seriousness by the end of the usual period of treatment and convalescence for the condition.
      • If the individual is still in recovery, it may be too soon to determine permanent functional limitations or the severity.
      •  Temporary, non-chronic impairments (such as broken limbs, sprained joints, or lacerations) usually do not result in long-lasting functional limitations. 
    • Functional limitations are NOT based on future or projected job goals or environmental factors (lack of transportation, etc.).  The distinction between a substantial impediment to employment for purposes of eligibility and a serious functional limitation for purposes of establishing priority for service is one of degree and scope. The degree and scope is serious if an individual can only perform a function, or can only learn to perform a function with a significant accommodation and/or substantial support.
    • Specific questions to consider in determining substantial impediment might include whether because of the impairment the individual:
      • Has lost jobs;
      • Has an unstable work history;
      • Can't do the same work;
      • Is limited in the range of jobs in their community;
      • Would have difficulty preparing for jobs (such as in training situations);
      • Would aggravate their disability by continuing in current job or previous jobs;
      • Is in danger of losing their job;
      • Has had difficulty in school; or
      • Has had difficulty in daily activities.
  5. Determine whether the individual can benefit from VR services.
    • Determine if the person could reach an employment outcome if VR services are provided. Employment outcome is full-time or part-time competitive, integrated  employment, supported employment, self-employment or telecommuting. Federal regulations make clear the expectation that VR presume any individual with an impairment would meet this requirement.
  6. Verify that the individual can benefit from VR services.​​​​​​
    • It is presumed that a person with a disability can reach an employment outcome with the provision of VR services unless there is clear and convincing evidence demonstrating the person is incapable of benefiting from vocational rehabilitation services. (Utilize Job Readiness Factors)
    • In making a decision that a person with a disability is not capable of benefiting in terms of an employment outcome because of the severity of the disability, first determine whether existing information provides clear and convincing evidence the applicant cannot achieve, or does not want to achieve an employment outcome; such as assessments and reports from previous trial work experiences conducted by:
      • Sheltered Employment program; or Other current or recent period of vocational services comparable to those that could be provided with extended evaluation services.
      • Community Rehabilitation facility program;
      • School work experience program;
      • Vocational Education program;
      • If existing information does not provide this clear and convincing evidence, VR staff  must arrange for a community work assessment in the most integrated setting possible with appropriate supports, assistive technology devices and support services.
    • Can legally work - If non-citizen, lawful presence and eligibility to work verified through SAVE and documented on Citizenship screen (See VRIS: Application & Transfer to Employment Program)
  7. Determine whether the individual requires VR services.
    • Determine the person requires a planned and coordinated individualized program of specific vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for, enter, engage in, or retain an employment outcome.
  8. Verify the individual requires VR services.
    • To make this decision, consider:
      • the number and duration of specific vocational rehabilitation services required to overcome the person's functional limitations and employment impediments so that he or she can engage in gainful employment;
      • the person's need for specialized services, supports, or accommodations not typically used by the general public; or
      • the need for planning and coordination of multiple or complex services over a long duration to enable the person to prepare for, enter into, engage in, and maintain in gainful employment.
  9. Complete the eligibility and priority group determination in QE2. 
    • Use the individual's work history and Functional Capacity Checklist to determine appropriate functional limitations and priority group assignment. (See Order of Selection Chapter)


If the eligibility determination is unable to be completed within 60 days from the date of application, an eligibility extension is required to be completed in QE2 prior to the 60 days expiring (day 59 or less). Only one extension is allowed for a maximum of an additional 60 days and a total of 120 days. 

  • Discuss the need for an extension with the client by explaining exactly what caused the delay and what is needed to complete the eligibility determination and why.
  • Obtain agreement of the extension and specific date the eligibility will be completed within the allotted timeframe;
  • Complete the Eligibility Extension screen in QE2.
  • All Extensions require an Office Director approval.
  • An email to the Office Director will be generated once the QE2 extension screen is completed with the required information (rationale for extension and mutually agreed upon date of eligibility to be completed). 
  • Upon approval an automated TASK note will be generated in the case file.

In the rare occurrence of an eligibility extension exceeding the maximum of 120 days, an automated e-mail will be generated to the Director of VR and the Office Director for review.  The Office Director will be required to provide the Director of VR the justification of not meeting the IPE deadlines. 

ELIGIBILITY: Eligibility must be completed within 60 days of the application for services. Individuals must be determined eligible prior to providing VR services under an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).

Eligibility requirements:

  • Permanent Impairment (diagnosis)
  • Substantial Impediment to employment (functional limitations)
  • Benefit from VR Services  (employment outcome from the provision of VR services)
  • Require VR Services (prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment)

Eligibility determinations must be made by either a VR Rehabilitation Specialist or a VR Office Director.

A VR Service Specialist may indicate to an individual their belief that he or she will be eligible for services. However, the VR Service Specialist should clearly explain that only a VR rehabilitation specialist or VR office director has the authority to officially determine eligibility for services.

ELIGIBILITY EXTENSION:  If staff  are unable to complete the eligibility determination within 60 days, an Eligibility Extension is required to be completed in QE2 prior to the 60 day Eligibility deadline. 



Eligibility requirements are applied without regard to gender, race, age, color, or national origin.

Age Restrictions

There is no upper or lower age limit that, in and of itself, results in a finding of ineligibility for any person who otherwise meets the basic eligibility criteria.


There is no durational or other residency requirement imposed that excludes from services any person who is present in the State.

Open Case in Two States

An individual may have an active case in two state VR agencies at the same time and both VR agencies would be allowed to record a successful employment outcome. Contact the Program Director for Counseling Services to discuss if you learn a case is open in another state VR agency or if the individual tells you they are going to apply for services from another state VR agency.


Only a non-citizen who is authorized by the U S Department of Homeland Security to work can be served by the agency. See Citizenship section in the Application and Transfer to the Employment Program chapter.

Information on Selected Impairments

  • Alcohol or drug abuse (including marijuana)
    • A diagnosis of 'abuse' or 'dependence' is acceptable for impairment.
    • Decisions on eligibility will be based on individual circumstances and not on any pre-determined length of sobriety per Federal Regulations.  To assess progress toward abstinence:
    • Federal regulations indicate that symptoms need not be active for an individual to have a disability, and thus, a substantial limitation to a major life activity (employment). 
    • Previous convictions, felonies and/or incarcerations due to abuse/dependence may be used in describing the impediment to employment as they do have an effect on the individual's ability to obtain employment and/or the types of jobs they might be able to attain, but the justification and rational needs to focus on the actual functional limitations, not the external situation. Example: Due to drug dependence at a young age, the individual's decision making and skills have been delayed resulting in difficulty problem solving through peer pressure situations. His limited ability in determining the repercussions of his actions has resulted in several thefts convictions to support his drug habit.
  • Borderline Intellectual Functioning.
    • If Borderline Intellectual Functioning is the diagnosis on a report received from an individual licensed to make such a diagnosis, it will be considered an impairment. Borderline intellectual functioning IQ ranges from 71-84. An MDT signed by a school psychologist or a psychological report signed by a school psychologist with a diagnosis of Borderline Intellectual Functioning would also be acceptable documentation.
    • Note: To document the impairment in QE2, select “borderline intellectual functioning (IQ 71-84)” from the list of impairments under Mental Functioning-Developmental. *Mental Handicap
    • Any diagnosis from an MDT of “mental handicap” will be considered an impairment. The maximum full scale IQ for “mental handicap” is 75. To document the impairment in QE2, select Mental Functioning-Developmental, then select either intellectual disability mild (IQ 50 - 75), intellectual disability moderate (IQ 35 - 55), or intellectual disability severe (35 and under) depending upon the full scale IQ.

Who Can Diagnose

A diagnosis may only be accepted from individuals licensed and/or certified to make a diagnosis.

This is limited to:

  • Physicians (including Psychiatrists);
  • Physician Assistants (if under the supervision of a licensed physician);
  • Psychologists;
  • School Psychologists for a diagnosis of Borderline Intellectual Functioning
  • Psychological Assistants or Psychological Associates (under the supervision of a licensed psychologist);
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (also called Nurse Practitioners);
  • Licensed independent mental health practitioners (licensed to diagnose mental health conditions.);
  • Chiropractors; and
  • Alcohol and Drug Counselors (licensed to diagnose alcohol and drug disorders only).

VR will accept a diagnosis with the signature of a physician assistant or psychological assistant without the signature of their supervising physician

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