The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR)

The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) can supply you with a wide variety of counseling, training, job skills, and job placement services. DOR can help you get the training or other services that you need to return to work, to enter a new line of work, or to enter the workforce for the first time. Together, these services are called “Vocational Rehabilitation” (VR).

The services they offer are carefully selected to match your personal needs. You and your counselor will work together closely to set goals and then develop a plan to help you reach them.

Eligibility

Eligibility for DOR services is based on disability. If you get Social Security disability benefits, either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you are automatically eligible DOR services.

If you are disabled but do not get Social Security disability benefits, then you may or may not qualify for DOR services. This will depend on the funds that are available to the DOR and on how severe your disability is. People who have the most severe disabilities will get services first. If you need the services, make sure you apply for them, regardless of what type of disability you have.

All services from DOR are free if you qualify.

Application

There are a few ways to apply for DOR services:

You can also be referred by a program that has an existing relationship with the Department of Rehabilitation, such as a high school counselor or an America's Job Center of California (formerly called One-Stops).

If you have questions about how to apply, talk to a benefits planner.

Appeals Process

If you are not offered VR services, you can request mediation or appeal that decision within 1 year of being denied services:

  • You can get a mediation form from your local DOR office.
  • If you appeal, you will have a hearing in front of the Rehabilitation Appeals Board. If you still are not satisfied with the result of your appeal, you can appeal again to the California Superior Court.
To learn more about mediating or appealing, call the Client Assistance Program (CAP) at 1-800-952-5544 or 1-866-712-1085 (TTY).

Long-Term Job Supports

The California Department of Rehabilitation offers various long-term job supports – also called “ongoing supports” or “extended services.” These typically offer help with training or retraining on:

  • Job tasks
  • Dealing with schedule changes
  • Adjusting to new supervisors
  • Promotion to new job tasks or positions
  • Managing changes in nonwork environments or life activities that affect work performance

DOR can also contract with a local rehabilitation provider to supply you with other long-term support services that can help you keep your job and move ahead in your career. These services are supplied at no cost and can include things like supported employment, community employment, and center-based employment.

Supported Employment

A person who gets Supported Employment (SE) services has an independent job in a competitive setting and gets the same wages and benefits as coworkers who don’t have disabilities.

Because they are highly individualized, the services that are offered to a person who gets SE vary but they may include:

  • Communication technology
  • Help communicating with coworkers and supervisors
  • Education of coworkers and supervisors
  • Communication technology
  • Transportation help

SE may be a step in the process to working without ongoing support.

Community Employment

Community employment refers to jobs done by a work crew that includes a high percentage of people with disabilities and where workers often are paid less than the usual wage for similar work done by people without disabilities. Community employment offers intensive job supports and often is a step towards reaching SE.

Center-Based Employment

Center-based employment is typically a job in an industrial production, food service, or janitorial operation in a community rehabilitation program. You will perform standard work assignments while earning wages based on your rate of production and developing work skills. The focus of the service is on disability-related issues that present real or perceived obstacles to competitive employment.

Employment Services for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

The Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) has some offices that have counselors that specialize in employment services for the blind and visually impaired. To find out more about these services, click here.

In addition to these counselors, DOR operates the Orientation Center for the Blind (OCB) in Albany (in the San Francisco Bay area) where people who have recently lost their vision can participate in a residential environment where they can learn about adapting to life with vision loss or blindness.

Services for People Who Are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Late Deafened

DOR also has some offices with counselors that specialize in employment services for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, or late deafened. These Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (RCDs) are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). To learn more about these services, click here.