What is the Client Assistance Program (CAP)?
University Legal Services administers the Client Assistance Program (“CAP”), the federally funded program under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. That federal legislation funds the D. C. Rehabilitation Services Administration (“DCRSA”) to assess, plan, develop, and provide vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities, consistent with their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice, so that they may prepare for and engage in gainful employment.
CAP’s role is to identify, explain, and expeditiously resolve the complaints and problems an individual may be having in receiving vocational rehabilitation services from the District of Columbia Rehabilitation Services Administration (‘DCRSA”) and other providers of services under the Act.
CAP is authorized to pursue legal, administrative and other appropriate remedies to ensure the protection of rights of individuals with disabilities who are receiving treatments, services, or rehabilitation under the Act.
I. Who is eligible for vocational rehabilitation services?
If you have a physical or mental disability which limits you in your search for employment, you may be eligible for services from DCRSA. This includes high school students with disabilities who will be needing vocational rehabilitation services upon leaving high school.
II. How Can CAP Help You?
CAP can provide the following services:
- Explain the services and benefits available to you from DCRSA
- Advise you of your rights and responsibilities under the Rehabilitation Act
- Help you to resolve problems or complaints you may have with DCRSA
- Help you to appeal a decision if you have been denied services or are dissatisfied with services
- Refer you to other public or private agencies that may be able to help you if you are not eligible for VR services
III. What is your role in the process?
As a client or potential client of the DCRSA, you have certain rights and responsibilities.
A. Your Rights
You have the right to medical, vocational and various assessments to ascertain whether or not you are eligible for services from DCRSA and what services you may need
- Your eligibility must be determined within sixty (60) days except in an unusual and unforeseen situation
- Your Individualized Plan for Employment (“IPE”) must be developed and implemented in a timely manner
To avoid delays, for students in need of transition services, you should apply to DCRSA early. You can and should contact DCRSA as early as your 14th year of age. DCRSA and the student can develop and authorize an IPE while the student is in secondary school to ensure a smooth, uninterrupted transition from the school setting to the VR setting. Both an IPE and an IEP can exist simultaneously. They should be interlocking so when developing the IPE, the transitioning student and DCRSA must consider the student’s IEP and any agreements affecting the school’s relationship with DCRSA. If you wait until you are about to leave high school, the opportunity to develop an IPE may be so compressed, as to cause a gap in services.
Information provided by DCRSA (in writing and in an appropriate language and mode) must include
- Option for developing IPE with DCRSA or another Certified Rehabilitation counselor
- Description of all the components in an IPE
- Explanation of DCRSA policies for determining any financial commitment in the IPE
- Availability of assistance in completing forms required under the IPE
- Any information you request or DCRSA finds is necessary to complete the IPE
- Description of your rights and remedies including the appeal process
Individualized Plan for Employment
- Must be in writing
- Must be developed and implemented in a manner that gives you the right to exercise informed choice in selecting
- The employment outcome, including the employment setting;
- Your specific vocational rehabilitation services needed to achieve the employment outcome;
- The entity that will provide the services.
- Your IPE should be amended if there are substantive changes in the employment outcome, services, or service providers.
- Your IPE should be reviewed at least annually.
Content of IPE
- A description of the specific outcome you have chosen that is consistent with your unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, career interests and informed choice.
- A description of the particular vocational rehabilitation services
- Timelines for achieving the employment outcome
- Timelines for the initiation of services
- Description of the entity you have chosen to deliver the services
- The terms and conditions of the IPE
- Responsibilities of DCRSA
- Your Responsibilities
- Responsibilities of others such as the District government or federal government
- Statement of whether or not post-employment services are expected, by whom and how
- Content of an IPE with a supported employment requirement
- The supported employment services to be provided by DCRSA
- Specification of the expected extended services needed
- Identify the source of extended services
- Periodic monitoring to ensure satisfactory progress
- Specification of coordination with other service plans
- Job skill training must be on site
- Placement in an integrated setting for the maximum number of hours possible
- Statement of whether or not post-employment services are expected by whom and how
Freedom From Discrimination:
You cannot be discriminated against because of your race, religion, sex, age, or disability
DCRSA may not release any information in your file to CAP-ULS without your written and signed permission.
You have the right to appeal in many situations such as the following: When you have been found ineligible for DCRSA services; when you not agree with the decisions made by your DCRSA counselor; when you believe your rights have been violated; when you believe your case is about to be or has been closed incorrectly. CAP can ordinarily assist you in the appeal process or to provide further information for you to represent yourself in the appeal pdrocess.
B. Your Responsibilities
Individualized Plan for Employment:
As explained above, an IPE – the action plan must be developed. This will require your participation and cooperation to complete the paperwork. You may be expected to help pay for services when you are able to do so. You should keep a copy of the documents and information you provide to the counselor. Obtain and retain a copy of any documents you sign including the IPE and any amendments to the IPE. Keep your counselor well informed.
You must keep appointments you make with your counselor at DCRSA. If you are unable to do so, be sure to call and notify your counselor. If you are in training or on the job, it is your responsibility to follow-up on your counselor's recommendations as best you can.
Working With Your Counselor: It is your responsibility to cooperate with the counselors and to stay in touch. Call or see your counselor as soon as you have a question or problem. If you change your address or phone number, you must notify your counselor.
IV. Resolving Problems
You have the right to appeal if you feel you have been denied DCRSA services unfairly or if you do not agree with your plan. However, you must follow all the appeal steps in the appropriate order. The steps are :
A. Meet With Your Counselor
If you don't agree with the way your case is being handled, tell your DCRSA counselor or supervisor. Frequently, the two of you will be able to solve the problem. If you wish, CAP can advise you in this process. However, keep in mind that if the disagreement continues, the other appeal steps must be taken within a limited time period.
B. Administrative Review
The administrative review process has several steps:
- Meet With Your Counselor's Supervisor - After discussing your problems with your DCRSA counselor, you can personally or through CAP talk it over with the supervisor of the counselor. The supervisor can examine your complaint. If the supervisor’s response is not satisfactory, you may request a review by a higher supervisor.
Informal Administrative Process - You or your representative can present your problem at an informal administrative review meeting which is a non-binding and non-adversarial informal dispute resolution process. The informal administrative review meeting is optional and voluntary, and will not deny or delay an applicant or consumer from pursuing any other due process remedy guaranteed by the Rehabilitation Act. An applicant or consumer meets with either the Chief of the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Division or the Chief of Division for Services to the Blind in an effort to expeditiously resolve a complaint. The informal administrative review meeting involves fact gathering, interviews and negotiation. This request must be presented in writing within ten (10) business days of the determination that affected the provision of vocational rehabilitation services. The request must be addressed or delivered to the Office of Quality Assurance and Federal Compliance, Attention: Chief, Department on Disability Services, Rehabilitation Services Administration, 1125 15th Street, NW, 9th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005, (202) 442-8670 (Voice or Relay). Your counselor can help you with this or you can ask CAP to assist you. If you are dissatisfied with the results of the informal administrative meeting, you can request a fair hearing. But you must do so within fifteen (15) business days after you receive an adverse decision from the supervisor who conducted the informal meeting.
C. Fair Hearing
A fair hearing is a formal procedure held before an impartial hearing officer of the Office of Administrative Hearings (“OAH”). CAP can ordinarily assist you in filing your appeal and represent you at the hearing itself.
Your request for a fair hearing must be in writing and submitted personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested within fifteen (15) business days of adverse informal decision or, in the absence of an informal administrative review meeting, within thirty (30) business days of the occurrence of the action upon which the complaint is based. The request must be delivered or mailed to the Office of Administrative Hearings, 441 Fourth Street, N.W. Suite 450 North, Washington, DC 20001 (202) 727-8289. The OAH will notify DCRSA of your request and will notify you of next steps in the process.
V. CAP Is Here To Help
The Client Assistance Program is available to applicants or recipients of services under the Rehabilitation Act.
You should contact CAP if you:
- Are experiencing an undue delay in the processing of an application for services
- Have been denied eligibility and do not agree with the denial
- Experience a undue delay in the development of your IPE
- Have been denied services to which you feel you are entitled
- Are experiencing an undue delay in the implementation of your IPE
- Are experiencing an undue delay in the amendment of your IPE for the next period
- Disagree the adequacy of a provider to meet your vocational needs
- Have questions regarding the services and benefits available from DCRSA
- Have problems that you and your DCRSA counselor could not resolve
- Have problems that are preventing you from reaching your vocational goals
- Do not agree when DCRSA seeks to close you case
How To Contact CAP
To request assistance for yourself or someone you know, call Joseph Cooney at (202) 547-4747 ext. 116 or (202) 547-0198, ext. 116 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is located at 220 I Street, N.E., Suite 130, Washington, D.C. 20002.
ULS-CAP makes every effort to provide effective rights-related advocacy for meritorious cases. However, if any individual is not satisfied with CAP's actions, he or she has the right to appeal to the Executive Director of ULS. This can be done by sending a letter within 30 days to the Ms. Jane Brown, Executive Director, University Legal Services, Inc. 220 I Street, N.E., Suite 130, Washington, DC 20002 with a statement of the reasons for the appeal.