1125.00 Financial Need Review Policy

(Revised December 2019)

Table of Contents

Purpose

ACCES-VR reviews the financial need of individuals as required by the New York State Education Department Commissioner’s Regulations so that its limited financial resources will be allocated to as many participants as possible with the greatest financial need. Federal Regulation requires States to establish written policies when a financial need test is used.

Definitions

Available Resources:  This is the amount of money that an eligible individual or participant has available to pay toward ACCES-VR Financial Need-Based Services.  This amount is identified by a calculation known as the Participant Contribution in the Cost of Services.  This amount of money that the eligible individual or participant may contribute towards ACCES-VR Financial Need-Based Services is also known as a Spend Down.

Comparable Benefits and Services:  These are services or financial assistance from a source other than ACCES-VR that will meet, in whole or in part, the cost of vocational rehabilitation services provided by ACCES-VR.  (see 208.00 Comparable Benefits and Services Policy).

Eligible Individual:  An eligible individual is a person who has applied to ACCES-VR for services and it has been determined that they have a physical, developmental or behavioral impairment that is a substantial impediment to employment, can benefit in terms of achieving an employment outcome with their strengths, priorities, concerns, abilities, interests, and informed choices and require vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for, secure, retain, advance in, or regain employment. 

Employment Outcome: This is a specific employment goal that is agreed upon by the person and the ACCES-VR counselor.  The employment outcome is consistent with the person’s unique strengths, priorities, concerns, abilities, interests and informed choice with the goal of work in competitive integrated employment or supported employment.

Financial Need:  This is a threshold that is established that identifies when ACCES-VR may contribute funding toward some, but not all, vocational rehabilitation service.  This threshold is 300% of the Federal Poverty level for a household (see ASPE Poverty Guidelines). 

Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE):  The IPE is ACCES-VR’s written plan, agreed upon by the person and ACCES-VR counselor, that identifies an employment outcome, the services that will be provided to achieve the employment outcome, the timeframes for the services, and the steps that will measure progress toward the employment outcome. The IPE must be written within 90 days from the date of eligibility determination.

Participant:  An individual with a disability who has been determined eligible for ACCES-VR services, has an approved and signed Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), and received a service from ACCES-VR on or after the date that the IPE is signed.

Description

The determination of financial need is an integral part of the vocational rehabilitation planning process.  There is a shared responsibility between the eligible individual or participant for the determination of financial need.  The eligible individual or participant is responsible for providing their financial information to the ACCES-VR counselor.   The ACCES-VR counselor’s responsibility is to obtain, document and maintain financial information required to review the person’s financial need and to calculate the extent of their participation in the cost of services, if any.

Although all eligible individuals and participants require a Financial Need Review, not all ACCES-VR services are based on financial need.  A Financial Need Review must be completed at least annually, or more often, if there is a significant change in the participant’s financial situation and they are receiving a Financial Need-Based Service(s).

Through a Financial Need Review an eligible individual or participant may be determined to be a person:

  1. Who receives public assistance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and is Exempt from Consideration of Available Resources;
  2. Whose only planned services are no cost, Non-Financial Need-Based or Cost-Effective Skills Training (no calculation required); or
  3. Who is not Exempt from Consideration of Available Resources and Financial Need-Based Services are planned which requires a calculation of Participation in the Cost of Services, if any.

Note:  Depending on the types of services required to achieve the employment outcome on the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), a Financial Need Review does not always require a Calculation of Participant Contribution in the Cost of Services.

ACCES-VR’s Financial Need Review policy is applied uniformly to all individuals in similar circumstances within the same geographic region.  Regional cost of living adjustment is determined based on Federal housing costs for New York State. Documented medical and disability-related expenses should also be considered when calculating the eligible individual’s or participant’s contribution to the cost of services, if any.

Note: Individuals who are determined to be Exempt from Consideration of Available Resources through the Financial Need Review process are not exempt from ACCES-VR’s maximum contribution limits established in ACCES-VR policies.

Full use of available comparable benefits and services is required prior to ACCES-VR providing funding (see 208.00 Comparable Benefits and Services Policy).

The use of the most cost-effective services is required (see 100.00 Participant Involvement Policy).

Responsibility for Determining Financial Need

Responsibility is shared between the eligible individual or participant and ACCES-VR.  The eligible individual or participant is responsible for providing to the ACCES-VR counselor complete and accurate personal and household financial information such as, but may not be limited to, most recent Federal tax return(s), SSI/SSD award letter, public assistance budget, and/or pay stubs.  The ACCES-VR counselor is responsible for determining financial need and safeguarding the person’s personal and household financial information.

The ACCES-VR counselor must verify that the Financial Need Review is complete and current (within the last 12 months), maintain financial records, and verify that the eligible individual’s or participant’s calculation of Participation in the Cost of Services has been determined prior to providing Financial Need-Based Services.

Non-Financial Need-Based Services

The following services provided by ACCES-VR do not require the consideration of an eligible individual’s or participant’s financial resources.

  • All diagnostic, evaluation and necessary services required during evaluation. Necessary services do not include purchase of equipment or tools, restoration aids or services but may include maintenance, transportation, child care, interpreter, personal and reader assistance and rehabilitation technology aids when required (204.00 Assessment Policy and 1370.00 Rehabilitation Technology Policy);
  • Training provided by approved rehabilitation facilities;
  • Special transportation required by individuals with significant disabilities;
  • Driver and Adaptive Driver Evaluation (see 440.00 Driver Evaluation and Training Policy);
  • Adaptive driver training at a regionally accredited adaptive driver training center (see 440.00 Driver Evaluation and Training Policy);
  • Reader and note-taking services;
  • Tutoring;
  • Attendant/personal assistance services;
  • Interpreter services;
  • Vocational counseling, guidance and referral services (see 200.00 Referral and Applying for Services Policy);
  • Core Rehabilitation Services (CRS) including Assessment, Work Readiness, Pre-Employment Transition Services for Students (Pre-ETS), Job Placement, Supported Employment, Rehabilitation Technology, Benefits Advisement and other adjunct services. Note:  Transportation is not considered an adjunct service (see Financial Need-Based Services section below);
  • Work-Try-Out/On-the-Job training;
  • Cost-Effective Skills Training;
  • Any auxiliary aid or service required to participate in a vocational rehabilitation program.

Note:  Non-Financial Need-Based Services maintain the same requirement to first use all available comparable benefits and services the individual is eligible to receive prior to applying ACCES-VR funds, and to identify the most cost-effective service option.

Financial Need-Based Services

The following services may not be provided until the participant’s been determined to meet Financial Need and available resources have been applied toward the cost:

  • All training services at college and vocational training programs, including, but not limited to tuition, room and board, required fees, and required textbooks and materials;
  • Physical and mental restoration services;
  • Maintenance (except those provided during evaluation);
  • Driver Training
  • Transportation (except during evaluation, special transportation, and transportation to attend an administrative review or impartial hearing).  Note:  Participants must meet Financial Need to receive ACCES-VR funding toward transportation for Core Rehabilitation Services (CRS);
  • Occupational tools and equipment, both for work and training programs;
  • Goods, inventory, equipment and supplies for self-employment;
  • Occupational and business licenses;
  • Modifications to homes, vehicles and worksites;
  • Telecommunications, sensory and other technological aids and devices; and
  • All other goods and services not exempt above under Non-Financial Need-Based Services.

Financial Need Review

Exempt from Consideration of Available Resources

  1. Eligible individuals or participants who receive public benefits are determined to meet ACCES-VR’s financial need and are exempt from having their available resources considered.   ACCES-VR may provide funding for Financial Need-Based Services, up to the maximum contribution limits established in ACCES-VR policies, after all comparable benefits have first been applied.  Eligible individuals or participants must provide the ACCES-VR counselor with documentation verifying the receipt of one or more of the following public benefits:  Public Assistance including: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Safety Net Assistance (SNA), Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, including 1619b;
  2. Supplemental Security Income (based on the person’s disability determination); and/or
  3. Social Security Disability Insurance (not Social Security Retirement or Survivor Benefits).  The person must be the recipient based on his/her Social Security Administration eligibility determination.

Non-Financial Need-Based Services (No Calculation)

Participants whose Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) includes only no cost, Non-Financial Need-Based Services or Cost-Effective Skills Training may qualify for this type of review (No Calculation).  

Cost-Effective Skills Training

Cost-Effective Skills Training must meet the following criteria and ACCES-VR’s maximum contribution:

  • The participant does not meet financial need; and
  • The training program is a non-degree program and is no more than 12 months in duration.  Note:  ACCES-VR may allow up to two years for programs that operate on half-day sessions for participants whose disabilities require part-time attendance; and
  • The maximum allowable cost to ACCES-VR for the program including, but not limited to, tuition, books and fees, and required tools and equipment for non-degree trade, business or other schools and colleges does not exceed $8,000 (or the balance of cost after TAP and/or Pell grants are applied, if applicable, and less than $8,000).

To provide Cost-Effective Skills Training, all program costs must be documented in the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).  Any costs in excess of the $8,000 maximum contribution limit will not be paid by ACCES-VR.

Note: If Financial Need-Based Services are also planned, a Participant Contribution in the Cost of Services calculation must be completed.

Participant Contribution in the Cost of Services

ACCES-VR has determined that the threshold for eligible individuals or participants to meet financial need is 300% of the Federal Poverty Level for household income (see https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines).   When an eligible individual or participant meets financial need and Financial Need-Based Services are planned, ACCES-VR uses a calculation of Participant Contribution in the Cost of Services to identify if a person has available resources. As a result of the calculation, some participants may be required to contribute to the cost of Financial Need-Based Services if it is determined that they have available resources, i.e. a Spend Down amount.

Note:  When an eligible individual or participant is Exempt from Consideration of Available Resources, available resources are not considered and a spend down amount does not apply.

A Financial Need Review must be completed for all eligible individuals and participants.  The Financial Need Review must be completed at least annually for all participants and more often if Financial Need-Based Services are planned and a No Calculation Review was completed, or the participant’s income and/or assets change significantly during the year.

The ACCES-VR counselor must document the completion of a current calculation prior to providing Financial Need-Based Services.  Note: A current calculation is defined as a calculation that has been completed within the last 12 months and is updated sooner if there is a significant change in the participant’s available resources.

Exception: Room and Board in Lieu of Special Transportation and Interpreter Services

Full cost of room and board for college or university training may be provided to the participant in lieu of special transportation or interpreter services if it is more cost effective than directly funding special transportation or interpreter services (see 405.00 College and University Training Policy).

One-Time Services

These are services that are required for the individual’s participation in employment and required based on an evaluation and/or prescription (i.e. rehabilitation technology, visual devices, hearing devices, medical devices, home modification, vehicle modification). One-time services typically are essential for the participant, with a high cost and a recurring need for the item. A participant may receive different one-time-services, if required, and it must be documented in the IPE. Multiple purchases of the same service during the life of a case are not allowed.

The One-Time Service Calculation, which is separate from the Participant Contribution in the Cost of Services calculation, is limited to the following services and their associated case service codes:   

210 Vision Aids
220 Hearing Aids
230 Other Communication Aids/Devices
240 Prosthetics
250 Orthotics/Assistive Devices
280 Wheelchairs
800 Adaptive Household Equipment
811 Computers as Assistive Technology
820 Assistive Technology Devices
840 Home Modifications
850 Van Modification/Adaptive Driving Equipment – Vans
860 Car Modification/Adaptive Driving Equipment – Cars
891 Repairs (limited to repair of above technology, aids and devices)

If the person is not Exempt from Consideration of Available Resources and Financial Need-Based Services are also planned, a second calculation of the Participant Contribution in the Cost of Services is required to determine available resources prior to ACCES-VR funding those services. The One-Time Services calculation should be completed first.  All comparable benefits must be applied prior to ACCES-VR funding services.

One-Time Services: Job Save

One-Time Services: Job Save may be applied for those employed participants whose available resources or spend down exceeds the cost of their van or car modification, home modification, prosthetic or wheelchair after the One-Time Services calculation is applied.

For those employed participants, ACCES-VR may provide funding toward a One-Time-Services: Job Save.  ACCES-VR may provide up to one half of the cost of the following services, with associated service codes, but not more than the following maximum contributions:

850 Van Modification $18,750 
860 Car Modification $3,000
840 Home Modification $15,000
240 Prosthetic $11,000
280 Wheelchair $5,000

A One-Time-Services:  Job Save may be provided only once during the life of a case. The need and requirements of the service must be based on a prescription and/or evaluation.

If the person is not Exempt from Consideration of Available Resources and Financial Need-Based Services are also planned, a second calculation of the Participant Contribution in the Cost of Services is required to determine available resources prior to ACCES-VR funding those services. The One-Time Services calculation should be completed first.  All comparable benefits must be applied prior to ACCES-VR funding services.

Note:  The One-Time-Services calculation applies only to One-Time Services and One-Time Services: Job Save.

Required Signatures

For eligible individuals or participants who are Exempt from Consideration of Available Resources or are receiving No Cost Non-Financial Need-Based Services, or Cost-Effective Skills Training (No Calculation), the Financial Need Review participant letter is informational and does not require the eligible individual’s or participant’s signature.

For participants who are not Exempt from Consideration of Available Resources and Financial Need-Based Services are planned, a calculation of Participant Contribution in the Cost of Services is completed.  The calculation form requires the signatures of the eligible individual or participant and legal guardian, if applicable, and the ACCES-VR Counselor.  By signing the calculation of Participant Contribution in the Cost of Services form, the eligible individual or participant, and legal guardian if applicable, attests to the best of their knowledge that the information provided and used to calculate their available resources is true, correct and complete and they acknowledge a responsibility to promptly notify the ACCES-VR counselor if there is a substantial change int their finances.

Due Process

An ACCES-VR participant who is dissatisfied with any ACCES-VR determination involving funding of services, Financial Need Review, or comparable benefits and services may seek to resolve that dissatisfaction through an Administrative Review, Mediation and/ or Impartial Hearing (see 105.00 Due Process Policy).

Financial Commitments

Individuals should not take on any financial commitments with the anticipation of ACCES-VR funding for services.  Individuals are required to wait until the ACCES-VR counselor provides an ACCES-VR finalized IPE for services and ACCES-VR’s financial contribution towards services before they incur any expenses or costs.  The individual will be responsible for all expenses or costs incurred before receipt of ACCES-VR’s finalized IPE and approval for financial contribution towards ACCES-VR services. 

Related Policies

  • 100.00 Participant Involvement Policy
  • 102.00 Confidentiality Policy
  • 208.00 Comparable Benefits and Services Policy
  • 405.00 College and University Training Policy
  • 410.00 Non-Degree Training at Trade, Business and Other Schools