Personal and Contextual Factors Associated With Successful Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Outcomes

Publisher: Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, vol. 62, issue 3
Apr 01, 2019
Purvi H. Sevak, David R. Mann, and John O’Neill

Key Findings:

The researchers found that, overall, 25% of the VR applicants exited the VR system with jobs within two years after application. Another 29% received VR services but exited before getting a job; 42% exited VR before starting services; and 5% still had active VR cases after two years.

Some individuals with disabilities have relatively better labor outcomes than others. If vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors can better understand what factors are correlated with positive outcomes, they could better identify what clients are at risk for poor outcomes and then intervene early to improve chances for success. Unfortunately, until recently VR survey and administrative data have had insufficient information to investigate these questions. We use a survey of 932 Ohio VR clients combined with administrative earnings data to examine the barriers and facilitators associated with employment and earnings outcomes. The survey data are from the 2014 Survey of Disability and Employment, a survey of VR applicants in three states. We compare VR case status and earnings through 2016, by demographics, functional limitation status, employment history and attitudes, and reasons stated for not working in the survey. We find that about 25% of survey respondents exited the program employed or had at least one quarter of average monthly earnings above the Social Security Administration’s substantial gainful activity amount. Pain, depression or anxiety, longer duration of job separation, personal and familial attitudes about work, and not working because of personal and health reasons were associated with poorer outcomes among survey respondents.


Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (EPM-RRTC)


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research

Time Frame


Senior Staff

Purvi Sevak
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David Mann
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