HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry will terminate the waitlist for all “significantly disabled (SD) and non-significantly disabled (NSD) individuals” seeking vocational rehabilitation services.

The change, which goes into effect on August 8, will happen for the first time since 1994.

Due to the decrease in economic activity during the pandemic, OVR has a surplus of federal funding available to remove the waitlist and use those unspent resources to serve more Pennsylvanians.

L&I’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) assists Pennsylvanians with disabilities in obtaining and retaining employment while keeping their independence.

Since 2016, L&I says nearly 370,000 individuals have received services from OVR, including vocational counseling, evaluations, medical diagnostic services, medical restoration services, employment training, placement services, and career support services.

“Every individual should have the opportunity to pursue their passion, earn a living wage and build wealth in Pennsylvania,” L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said. “OVR makes this possible for individuals with disabilities by connecting them to employers who wisely recognize the value of employing people with different backgrounds and experiences – and who make their workplace open to all through reasonable accommodation.”

The removal of the waitlist for services expands participation in OVR services, along with more in-demand services, such as counseling and training. Over the last year, almost 55,000 individuals benefitted from those services.

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“Our goal with this process has always been to serve people with disabilities by giving them the tools they need to obtain and maintain employment,” said OVR Acting Executive Director Ryan Hyde. “Removing the OOS allows us to serve more Pennsylvanians with disabilities, aiding them on their journey to be successfully and gainfully employed.”

Individuals currently on the waitlist for groups SD and NSD will be notified by their vocational rehabilitation counselors that they will be able to access services as of August 8. New, eligible customers seeking services in groups SD and NSD will be able to receive services without waiting. This change is effective through June 30, 2023, when OVR will review the fiscal outlook and decide whether the services to all groups can remain open, without the waitlist, beyond this date.

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Determination of MSD, SD, or NSD is by the following criteria:

• An individual with a most significant disability has a disability that results in serious functional limitations in three or more functional capacity areas.

• An individual with a significant disability has a disability that results in serious functional limitations in at least one functional capacity area.

• An individual with a non-significant disability is determined eligible for the OVR program but does not meet the MSD or SD requirements.

For more information on OVR services, visit your local OVR office or apply for OVR services online via PA CareerLink®.

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