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Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) myths and realities

Page posted: 2/21/17

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Overview

This page provides common myths about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and their corresponding realities.

Myth/reality 1

Myth: People under age 25 with disabilities, who wants to start earning a subminimum-wage must go to Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) to get a letter that states that they are not “competitively employable.”

Reality: VRS cannot simply write a letter that says a person is unable to work competitively. VRS is required under WIOA to assume that people can achieve competitive, integrated employment.

A person under age 25 who wants to earn subminimum wages must:

  • • Apply for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services
  • • Work toward a competitive employment outcome specified in her or his VRS employment plan
  • • Have work experiences and opportunities that move her or him toward her or his job goal.
  • After this process occurs, if it is decided that the person is unable, at this time, to achieve a competitive employment outcome, VRS will provide the final documents required by WIOA Section 511 that will allow the person to start earning subminimum wages.

    Myth/reality 2

    Myth: If a person who currently receives subminimum wages says she or her wants to look for competitive, integrated employment, she or her must stop being paid subminimum wages.

    Reality: A person age 25 or older can work in both a competitive, integrated job and work one that pays subminimum-wages. A person under age 25 who works in a competitive, integrated job cannot also earn subminimum-wages without first going through the VRS application process.

    Myth/reality 3

    Myth: Because of WIOA, people under age 25 with disabilities cannot go to day training and habilitation (DT&H) or receive employment services unless they go through VRS first.

    Reality: A person under age 25 with disabilities can receive DT&H, supported employment services (SES) or a combination of both without going through the VRS process. But, a person cannot receive subminimum wages if he or she hasn’t gone through the VRS process.

    Myth/reality 4

    Myth: A person cannot receive services through VRS and a waiver/county at the same time.

    Reality: A person can receive services from both funding sources, but they cannot receive the same types of service at the same time. For example, a person cannot do job development through both SES and VRS at the same time.

    Myth/reality 5

    Myth: People under age 25 with disabilities must go to VRS so that they can have an “assessment” that will allow them to earn subminimum wages.

    Reality: When a person under age 25 applies for VRS services, a VRS counselor will work with the person and those that support her or him to:

  • • Understand the person’s strengths and interests
  • • Determine what services and supports the person might need to be successful in a competitive, integrated job.
  • Myth/reality 6

    Myth: The provider I contacted only has subminimum-wage paying service options for a person I support, so now she or he has no support options until she or he completes the VRS process required by WIOA.

    Reality: The provider could consider developing employment and day services for the person that do not involve subminimum wages. Other providers in the area may be able to provide the person employment and day supports that do not involve earning subminimum wages.

    Myth/reality 7

    Myth: A person’s waiver budget does not have enough funds to accommodate supported employment services.

    Reality: If the person has an assessed need for a service, the lead agency can authorize the service. With the exception of the consumer directed community support (CDCS) option, waiver budgets are aggregate and not individual. If a case manager or waiver rate team finds that authorizing the competitive, integrated employment supports for a person will exceed the aggregate county budget, they should contact DHS at DSD.ResponseCenter@state.mn.us.

    Myth/reality 8

    Myth: A person under age 25 has to have three work experiences through VRS before she or he can get the paperwork to earn subminimum wages.

    Reality: There is no required number of opportunities or experiences. It is an individual process based on the person’s interests, skills, plan and progress. The VRS counselor will work with the person on developing her or his experiences and informed choice capacity to help her or him achieve a competitive, integrated employment goal. If the person is unable to achieve this goal, VRS will provide the documentation that will allow her or him to earn subminimum wages.

    Myth/reality 9

    Myth: All people under age 25 with disabilities who want to work in the community need to go through VRS.

    Reality: A person under age 25 who wants to work or is working in a competitive, integrated job does not need to go through VRS. The lead agency should connect the person with VRS if there are VR services that would benefit them. Waiver funding may also support a person in competitive, integrated employment if VR and Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) services are not available. For more information, see CBSM - Supported employment services funding for youth in transition (PDF).

    Lead agency funding may also support a person under age 25 to find and keep competitive, integrated employment.

    Additional resources

    CBSM – Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
    CBSM – WIOA process for people age 25 and older

    CBSM – WIOA process for people under age 25

    CBSM – WIOA scenarios

    DB101 – Three steps to improve work outcomes

    DB101 – Informed Choice Toolkit (PDF)

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