Counseling, Training and Job Skills

If you have a disability that makes it hard for you to get and keep a job, you may be eligible for a variety of counseling, training, job skills and job placement services.

Services vary according to individual needs. One of our Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) counselors will work with you to explore the choices and determine which are most appropriate for you. Then together you'll develop a plan to help you reach your goals. Learn more about our Informed Choice policies.


The first step in choosing a good job or career is to understand what you are good at, what you like, what you want to accomplish, and what you need to reach your goals. You and your counselor will begin by discussing these things in detail.

Next, you and your counselor will set up a specific plan to meet your work goal. The plan will identify the services you will need.

Your ideas are an important part of the planning. You have the right to make choices about your job goal, the services you need to reach that goal, and who provides the services. Feel free to ask questions.

Your counselor can help you develop all or part of your plan. If you want to, you may develop your plan on your own. You decide how much help you want.

Your counselor is responsible for deciding:

  • If your goal will lead to a job
  • If the services identified in the plan are needed to reach your goal
  • If your plan is complete

You and your counselor will meet from time to time to see how things are going.

We want the plan to be right for you. If you think your plan should be changed or you run into problems, let your counselor know. If you want to, you can choose other people to work with you and your counselor.


If you don't have work skills, you may need some training. This can range from on-the-job training to more formal classroom education at community and technical colleges and public and private universities. You and your counselor will choose the field of study you need for your job goal. The choice of school is up to you.

We can help pay for basic educational expenses, but there are limits. In most cases, you will be expected to cover some of the costs.

Financial assistance from us can include tuition, fees, books, supplies, tools and equipment for training. However, if you choose a private school or a school that is out of state, we pay no more than the cost to attend a Minnesota state college.

How do we determine how much to spend on training costs?

  • First, we look at the total costs for tuition and mandatory fees.
  • Second, we subtract non-merit based aid that comes directly from the school you attend.
  • Third, we subtract other non-merit based aid from the remaining tuition and fees or the agency’s tuition limit amount, if applicable, whichever is less.
  • Fourth, we subtract the amount you and your family can pay for training.

You or your family will have some financial responsibility for your education and training. You must apply for financial aid from the school you will be attending. We cannot help cover training costs if you don’t apply. In most cases, you will be responsible for paying for room and board and other living expenses. 

If you receive education and training services, you and your counselor will develop a list of academic responsibilities. These can include:

  • Going to class regularly
  • Getting average or better grades
  • Keeping in regular contact with your counselor

Job Search

We work together until you have a job that is right for you. Here are some practical questions we’ll help you answer:

  • What conditions does your new job need to meet?
  • How much money will you need to earn?
  • Will you need medical benefits from an employer?
  • What days and shifts are you able to work?
  • How many hours per week can you work?
  • How far are you able to travel to work?
  • How will you get to work?
  • What kind of support will you need on the job?

Next, we move to job search preparation. Your counselor will be sure you know how to look for a job, how to write a resume, how to complete a job application, and how be effective during job interviews.

If you need extra help to improve your job search skills, your counselor will make arrangements for you.

Once you’re on the job, your counselor will stay in touch to make sure things are going well.  If there are problems, we’ll help you find solutions. We can help you:

  • Learn your job duties
  • Improve the quality and quantity of your work
  • Solve problems and work productively 

If you need extra help to keep your job, you can explore the options with your counselor. Modifying a work station, getting the right equipment, or changing your hours of work can sometimes make the difference between keeping and losing a job.

Sometimes, specialized equipment can make it easier to do a job. Other times a change in how a job is done may be a good idea. Talk to your counselor about the options that might be available to you. You may have expenses for other services that are necessary to help you achieve your job search goal – transportation, supplies, or books, for instance. We can help cover those expenses, when appropriate.


Eligibility Guidelines

Eligibility is based mostly on whether you have a physical or mental disability that makes it difficult to prepare for, get or keep work. We also consider how seriously your disability limits you, and if you can benefit from services. We rely on reports from your doctor or other professionals and consider such factors as your ability to:

  • Get from one place to another
  • Talk and listen to others
  • Take care of yourself
  • Make and carry out plans
  • Get along with others

People who are eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits based on their own disability and have not yet reached full retirement age are automatically eligible, unless they are too severely disabled to benefit from services.

Who Pays for Services?

You will pay for all or part of some services if your gross family income is above the "Consumer Financial Participation" threshold. This financial benchmark changes depending on the size of your family. We count your income and the income of your spouse. We count your parents’ income if:

  • You are under 18
  • Your parents claimed you on their income tax form
  • A school you plan to attend says you are a dependent for financial aid purposes

You will not pay for any services if your gross family income is below the financial  threshold or your receive financial help from one or more of the following public assistance programs:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) based on your own disability and you have not yet reached full retirement age
  • General Assistance (GA)

Proof of Income

We will ask to see the first page of your federal tax return to verify your total gross family income for the past year. If you were claimed on someone else's federal tax return, or if a college says you are a dependent, we will also ask for a copy of the first page of your parents' tax return.

If you did not file federal income tax, or if there has been a big change in your gross family income, then we look at proof of your current gross monthly income. You will be asked to show proof that you receive assistance. This could include: 

  • A written statement from MFIP/TANF, or GA
  • Medicare Card (if you are over 18 and have not reached full retirement age)
  • Social Security Ticket to Work
  • A determination of from the Social Security Administration 

When there is a change in your gross family income, be sure to tell your counselor.

What If I Can't Pay?

You can ask us to lower the amount we expect you to pay. This is called a variance request. We may lower the amount due to illness or disability for such things as:

  • Personal care attendants
  • Medical care
  • Extra housing costs
  • Special diets
  • Extra clothing costs
  • Other similar expenses due to illness or disability


For High School Students: Contact the counselor assigned to your school. They can tell you and your family about the services and help you apply. For adults: Applications start with a visit to one of our vocational rehabilitation counselors. They can provide information about services and help you apply.

It usually takes fewer than 60 days to determine whether you’re eligible. If it does take longer, your counselor will let you know and ask your permission to take more time.

In most  cases, you'll be able to schedule an appointment with a counselor at one of nearly 50 WorkForce Centers located throughout the state. Find a WorkForce Center near you. 

Stand-Alone Office Locations

A handful of our vocational rehabilitation counselors work out of these stand-alone offices:

Apple Valley
15322 Galaxie Ave Ste 200
Apple Valley, MN 55124-3150
Telephone: 952-703-3170
Fax: 952-895-7625

Carver County – Chaska  
1107 Hazeltine Blvd Ste 480
Chaska, MN 55318-1065
Telephone: 952-368-7007
TTY: 952-368-7117
Fax: 952-368-7010

102 W 5th St
Crookston, MN 56716-3000
Telephone/TTY: 218-277-7860
Fax: 218-281-6035

Park Rapids
104 Park Ave N Ste 104
Park Rapids, MN 56470-1855
Telephone/TTY: 218-732-9761
Fax: 218-732-0929

1307 3rd St NE
Roseau, MN 56751-0158
Telephone: 218-463-2075
Fax: 218-463-1316

Staples Motley High School
401 Centennial Ln
Staples, MN 56479-2118
Telephone: 218-894-5404
Fax: 218-894-3391

6043 Hudson Rd Ste 170
Woodbury, MN 55125-1019
Telephone: 651-501-6363
TTY: 651-501-6370
Fax: 651-501-6377


You may request a formal hearing to appeal decisions made about your eligibility for services, the types of services that will be made available to you, or who will provide the services.

A formal hearing is not a court trial but is like it in many ways. An Administrative Law Judge is in charge of a formal hearing. You, or someone you choose, will tell the judge what you think and give any evidence or information you think is important.

VRS will also tell the judge why the decision was made. You can ask questions of anyone who speaks at the hearing and you can look at any information VRS gives the judge. VRS can ask you questions too. The judge will listen to both sides and then decide what is right or wrong. The judge's report will be sent to you usually within 30 days after the hearing.

You have 120 days after you are told about the decision to ask for a formal hearing. If you want a formal hearing, it will be held within 60 days after you ask for it unless you and the agency agree to a delay.

Ticket to Work

Ticket to Work is a Social Security Administration program that helps people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits based on disability to obtain employment and earn enough money to end the need for cash benefits. The program is voluntary.

Individuals who are 18 to 64 years old are eligible for training and employment services from an Employment Network. VRS is an approved Employment Network.

VRS can provide full information on how work will affect your current benefits, and how you can maintain medical benefits while you work. Our expert staff will work with you to do a complete analysis of your needs and develop an individualized Employment Plan that supports your goals for work.

For More Information

Visit the Ticket to Work website or call 800-328-9095 or 800-657-3973 (TTY users).