Weekly Focus - August 19, 2016

An update and information report for doctors who provide consultative exams for OOD’s Division of Disability Determination
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities

Kevin L. Miller, Executive Director

August 19, 2016

The mission of the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Agency is to ensure individuals with disabilities achieve quality employment, independence and disability determination outcomes.

What's Inside:

Online Portal OOD Works to Expand Access, Expedite VR Services

VR Portal
OOD plans to launch its new online portal, to be known as OOD Works in October.


As we approach National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) this October, I wanted to let you know about an exciting initiative we have been working on. This week we began a pilot project at our Whitehall office testing an online portal for Ohioans with disabilities who may want to work but are unsure about how to get started. A statewide kick-off for this portal, called OOD Works, is planned for October.


Visitors to this new website will be able to learn what vocational rehabilitation (VR) is, how it works, and take an online assessment to determine if VR services are the right choice for them. If so, visitors can begin the application process without having to visit an office. Using their computer, tablet or smartphone, individuals with disabilities can make an informed decision and save valuable time filling out paperwork that would normally need to be completed at one of our regional offices. They can also avoid the transportation and scheduling issues that can sometimes come with arranging an office visit. When they do arrange to meet with a counselor, they can use that valuable time to begin the career planning process.


This groundbreaking new project was made possible through the support of Governor John Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly in the last biennial budget. It is designed to increase awareness about the vocational rehabilitation process and to make that process more accessible and efficient for those seeking employment and for our counselors.


We are excited about how technology is breaking down barriers to information and services and about leveraging the internet to offer more Ohioans opportunities for quality employment and increased independence. Stay tuned for more information on this project as we get closer to October.


Governor's Council on People with Disabilities Host Presentation About STABLE Account

STABLE Account Presenters
Eric Ochmanek and Lizz Lewis, both with the Treasurer of State's office, present information about STABLE Accounts to members of the Governor's Council on People with Disabilities.


The Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities (GCPD) met on Tuesday. Eric Ochmanek, deputy chief of staff, and Lizz Lewis, director of Legislative and Policy Affairs, both with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s office, provided a presentation on the State Treasurer Achieving a Better Life Experience (STABLE) Account. STABLE Accounts help give people with special needs independence and financial stability. Those who developed disabilities before the age of 26 may be eligible to open an account.  

STABLE Account Logo

The program is made possible by the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act that allows individuals with disabilities the ability to save and invest up to $14,000 per year without losing government benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income. Money can be placed in up to five different saving and investment options. Investment earnings are tax-free when used to pay for qualified expenses.


The earnings made on a STABLE Account are not subject to federal or Ohio state income taxes, as long as the earnings are spent on qualified disability-related expenses such as  basic living expenses, housing, transportation, assistive technology, employment training, education, health and wellness, financial management and legal fees. 


Visit stableaccount.com or call 1-800-439-1653 for more information.

Director's Advisory Group for DDD and VR Host Combined Meeting Featuring Demonstration Project

The OOD Director's Advisory Groups for both the Division of Disability Determination and the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation and Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired conduct a combined meeting this week.


Since becoming Executive Director, I have assembled individuals from each service division of the agency to serve on the Director’s Advisory Group (DAG). This week they held a combined meeting where they discussed the differences and similarities between the Division of Disability Determination’s (DDD) adjudicative staff and the counselors for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)/Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired (BSVI).


Lawmakers are in discussions about revising the Ticket to Work program, making it legal for DDD and BVR to share information and referrals once again. In a demonstration project, Ohio is able to start sharing information and referrals on transition youth continuing disability review (CDR) cases, since this population has the most potential. I have asked DDD and VR to begin to bridge the gap now, instead of waiting for the new changes to take place. This exploration and collaboration meeting between the DAGs is an opportunity to learn more about the roles of adjudicator and counselor and to generate innovative ways to increase communication, collaboration and improve processes.


This meeting allowed OOD staff representing DDD, BVR and BSVI to offer suggestions, recommendations and share concerns about a variety of issues. Staff came away from the meeting with a better understanding of areas that we can continue to improve on to better serve Ohioans seeking to utilize our services.

One Year Anniversary of New Counselor Training Restructure

One year ago, OOD restructured how new vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors are on boarded into their positions. This involved the redeployment of four VR supervisors, one in each region, to directly supervise new counselors ensuring that they are consistently trained and supported during the first six months of service with OOD. This is one aspect of a larger agency emphasis on the consistency of how OOD on boards and trains employees.


This week, I met with these training supervisors, the area managers and other involved VR staff, as well as HR staff that have helped support VR in this process. We discussed the first year new counselor training achievements and priorities for moving forward. Fifty-three people have been hired into counseling positions during the year and by all accounts, this endeavor has been successful. Accomplishments have included improvements in the curriculum used for new counselors, caseload assistants and coordinators during the probationary period. Work is also underway to update the counselor testing and hiring process that will be implemented later this fall.

Did You Know? Assistive Devices and Daily Living Aids Assist in Supporting Independent Living for Individuals with Disabilities

Individuals with physical disabilities that affect mobility can use a variety of assistive devices to enhance their day-to-day activities. Many devices are available online. For more information about the types of assistive devices available that are searchable by categories, visit assistive devices.


OOD by the Numbers

Vocational Rehabilitation

                                                               Current                     FFY2016


Individuals in Job Ready Status:            3,035                        5,681

(For county level information

& map visit our website)


Individuals Employed:                             2,118                        5,953

(Employed, not yet

successfully closed)


Successful Closures:                                                                5,865

(Employed for over 90 days,

case closed successfully)


Disability Determination

(FFY2016 as of 08/12/2016 – Week 46)


Applications Received:                                                           174,105


Determinations:                                                                       174,889


Productivity Per Work Year (PPWY)                                       368.9

(Total number of cases processed divided

by the number of work years funded)

Return to Top