We would like to highlight the cases CAP took to an appeal this year.
1) Client, male, American Indian, 61 years old, with orthopedic issues, mental health issues, digestive issues, and a felony involving a minor approached the VR agency for assistance with employment. TWS provided assistance for over a year with a provider to help him find a job and was unsuccessful. They noted the felony and lack of skill were obstacles. The client had experience in Auto CAD, but did not have the current training on the software now used in Auto CAD to obtain employment. The client requested the training to update his skills. The counselor denied the request stating liability concerns if she provided the client a computer to learn the skill. The TWS-VRS Counselor recommendation was for the client to attend training on campus. However, the client did not have transportation and did not live in an area with public transportation and lacked the physical ability to do as much walking as attending on campus would require. CAP attempted to resolve this at the lowest level and was unsuccessful. An appeal was filed and conducted. The Impartial Hearing Officer did not feel the case was worked up adequately by the TWS-VRS Counselor, and asked they conduct the proper assessment of the client and if the client needs a computer, to provide it. After the assessment was conducted, a computer was provided and the client has signed up for the training.
2) Client, Hispanic male, 20 years old, who is Deaf, asked the TWS-VRS agency for assistance with college tuition at Gallaudet University. He had been working with the VR program as a transition student, and had completed all the steps the transition counselor required, such as maintaining status as an honor student, getting experience in the field of interest, (teacher), applying for college, and applying for FAFSA. The client then asked TWS-VRS for help with tuition and was informed he needed to attend an in-state college for two years prior to asking for assistance to go out-of-state. A different counselor did not support his goal as a teacher and would not amend his IPE. Going out-of-state was also denied above the counselor level. Client called CAP. CAP researched the schools, the client needs and the information in the client TWS-VRS file. CAP advocated TWS-VRS support the vocational goal and that the out-of-state school would meet the client’s needs best. CAP attempted to resolve the issue at the lowest level and was unsuccessful. Client attended the Fall semester on his own while further negotiation took place. As a result, a formal appeal was filed. The TWS-VRS attorney agreed to work with CAP to resolve the issue without conducting the appeal. TWS-VRS agreed to change offices and counselors. Information was provided to the new TWS-VRS Counselor and meetings were held to review the information, review the client information and clarify his interests, needs and abilities. TWS-VRS agreed to support the client’s vocational goal and choice of school. The Individualized Plan for Employment, (IPE), was amended and all issues were resolved.
Client, male, African American, 23 years old, who has muscular dystrophy, had asked TWS-VRS assistance with a vehicle modification back in 2017. The process started very slowly and client obtained a different wheelchair. Client began working with a new VRC, who asked the client for family income information and expenses. Texas has a financial needs test and although the client is independent in his finances the counselor asked for his parents financial information. TWS-VRS policy states if a person is independent financially, family financial information is not required. Additionally, the counselor requested the client seek comparable benefits to help pay for the vehicle modification. The client called CAP. CAP investigated the case, and determined that the client was independent in his financial affairs including filing his own taxes. CAP and the TWS-VRS Counselor reviewed policy and CAP requested the manager assist in interpreting policy and to help get the case moving. The case had taken an extraordinary amount of time and had not moved successfully toward the vehicle modification. Additionally, CAP wrote up a timeline of this case, and shared with TWS-VRS management. The manager assisted and monitored the case until the vehicle modification was approved and completed. The client received his modification. CAP brought up the delays in this type of service to TWS-VRS as a systemic issue and incorrect application to policy for comparable benefits.
Client, female, 43 years old, hard of hearing asked TWS-VRS for assistance in obtaining a cochlear implant. Client went through the assessments required for consideration of this service. The client had to change TWS-VRS counselor due to a conflict of interest. The new counselor apparently ignored or did not agree to continue forward in considering the cochlear implant, and instead provided the client with hearing aids. The client called CAP. CAP investigated the case, and noted the current counselor had the information needed to take the request for the cochlear implant up the chain of command but for an unknown reason did not act on the request. CAP advocated for a change of counselor, which was granted. The newest counselor agreed to process the request for the cochlear implant. Because it had been over six months, two of the assessments had to be updated. CAP followed the process and progress of the request through final approval. TWS-VRS agreed to provide the cochlear implant. There was a short delay in getting the cochlear implant surgery due to COVID 19, but once non-essential surgeries could be provided she received her implant.
Older Blind Independent Living Services
Client, male, 60 years old with blindness in both eyes, contacted CAP as a result of his case in the Older Individuals who are Blind (OIB) program being closed. He had not received the glasses he needed, and the sunglasses provided were not meeting his needs. He was told he would have to wait another year to receive services. CAP investigated his case and discovered it was closed, but the agency agreed to open the case and provide the wrap around glasses and sunglasses the client needed. As communication broken down with the IL Counselor, CAP asked that the supervisor stepped in. The services were provided, the client confirmed they met his needs and the issue was resolved.