The Texas Independent Living Services (ILS) program promotes the philosophy of independent living through consumer control, peer support, self-help, self-determination, equal access, and individual and systems advocacy. The goals of the program are to maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of people with disabilities and to ensure their integration and full inclusion into the mainstream of society.
In Texas, we address the independent living philosophy through our partnerships among the centers for independent living (CILs), the Texas State Independent Living Council (SILC), and DRS and DBS ILS caseloads.
The ILS program provides services to consumers
The ILS process is similar, but not identical, to the VR process. Policies throughout this manual apply to ILS unless specified in this chapter. The ILS process includes
In this chapter, "you" refers to the ILS counselor.
Numerous community sources refer persons to DRS for IL services, such as organizations, schools, clinics, centers for independent living (CIL), and physicians.
As an ILS counselor, you work in partnership with a CIL. Having partnerships between CILs and ILS counselors maximizes the use of funds and resources available to serve consumers. See examples of partnerships between CILs and ILS counselors.
All CILs provide four core services:
CILs may also provide a variety of other services, such as
CILs may provide services under one or more grants, or may charge a fee for services that are not funded by grants.
DARS assigns a liaison to each DARS-grant-funded CIL. The CIL liaison is the primary program contact between the CIL and DARS for Independent Living Services. The liaison provides technical assistance and develops an active relationship that contributes to the successful independent living outcomes of ILS consumers. Each CIL collaborates with a DARS CIL liaison to optimize services to ILS consumers through sharing best business practices.
The CIL liaison must know about
If the CIL liaison identifies a significant performance issue, the liaison must notify both the program specialist for Independent Living Services and the regional contract manager, even if the issue has been resolved. See also the DARS Contracting Processes and Procedures Manual, Chapter 8: Maintenance and Management, 8.5.1 Issues Identified by DARS Staff.
The CIL liaison must immediately report any concerns related to or raised by a consumer to the area manager, RCCS, ODP, and program specialist for Independent Living Services.
A consumer's first contact with DRS is a critical point in the independent living process. It is a time for the consumer not only to exchange information with you but also to form an impression about your sincerity, concern, and professionalism.
During this contact with the consumer, you should develop an understanding of the consumer's independence needs, and explain the purpose of the ILS program so the consumer can make an informed decision about whether the ILS program can meet those needs.
Note: Occasionally, a consumer will contact you to "get on the waiting list" for a vehicle modification, even though the consumer has not yet purchased or is not ready to purchase the vehicle to be modified. Although you may not refuse to take an application, recommend that the consumer apply for services at a later date, closer to the actual purchase of the vehicle.
If DARS or DRS is not the appropriate resource, refer the consumer to another agency or organization that may be able to help.
If the consumer is interested in independent living services to obtain, maintain, or retain employment, provide information about the services that are available under the vocational rehabilitation program.
The DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) provides independent living services to consumers whose primary disability is visual, or if the consumer is legally blind.
When a consumer has coexisting visual and nonvisual significant disabilities affecting his or her functioning independently in the home, family, or community, confer jointly with DBS and the consumer to determine how the consumer can best be served.
In some situations, the consumer can be served by a single division. If the consumer is served by
In some situations, the consumer requires services and resources from both divisions through consecutive cases.
If consecutive cases are needed to meet the consumer's ILS needs, meet with the consumer and the local DBS counselor to jointly determine which division's services are needed first. If the consumer is first served by
When the services have been provided and the IL goals on the plan or waived plan have been achieved, close the case as successful and refer the consumer to the DBS counselor to complete his or her vision related ILS needs.
The initial contact date in the electronic case management system is the date the consumer first contacts DRS for services, with the following exceptions:
If the consumer has a current or previous ILS case, refer the consumer back to the current or previous counselor. However, if the consumer has relocated, he or she may be served by the ILS counselor closest to him or her.
If the ILS program is appropriate for the consumer, complete the Initial Contact screen in the electronic case management system. Use the electronic system to assign the consumer to the appropriate ILS counselor. (See list of ILS counselors). Once you assign a counselor and choose the ILS program in the electronic system, the system automatically adds the consumer's name to the Interest and Waiting List.
You must complete the application within 30 days of initial contact. If the application cannot be completed within 30 days, you must document a good-faith effort to meet this time standard.
Follow procedures in Chapter 2: Initial Contact and Application, 2.3.4 Social Security Number, except eligibility for IL services is not contingent on the consumer's ability to work legally in the United States. See also 8.4.2 Verification of Legal Residency.
If the consumer does not have an SSN or prefers not to provide it, follow procedures in Chapter 2: Initial Contact and Application, 2.3.5 Obtaining a Temporary Social Security Number.
The application process includes
All procedures in Chapter 2: Initial Contact and Application, 2.4 Application, apply except 2.4.2 Identification and Employment Verification Documents.
To receive IL services, a consumer must be a citizen of the United States, a qualified alien, or an immigrant alien. As proof, the consumer must provide one of the following documents before you can determine eligibility for IL services.
Acceptable documents include
Place a copy of the identification document in the case file. If the consumer is reluctant to allow you to make copies of the document, or if you do not have immediate access to a copy machine, enter the following information in a case note:
If the consumer cannot provide one of these documents, but continues to claim that he or she is in the country legally, refer the matter up the management chain for resolution. Management will consult with Legal Services before making a determination.
Even if the consumer does not have any of the above documents, allow the consumer to complete the application. However, counsel the consumer on the need for required documentation before you can determine eligibility.
For policy and procedures, see Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 21: Common DARS Consumer Service Policies, 21.1 Voter Registration Requirements.
If a consumer who requires IL services lives outside the traditional areas where ILS counselors provide services, the non-ILS counselor
As courtesy counselor, the non-ILS counselor helps the ILS counselor, as necessary, by
You must conduct a diagnostic interview with every consumer. You should, usually, conduct the diagnostic interview at the same time as you complete the application. If a courtesy counselor completes the application, you must follow up with the consumer to conduct the diagnostic interview.
The primary purpose of the diagnostic interview is to help determine eligibility for IL services. It is an opportunity to identify, from the consumer's perspective, abilities, resources, limitations, and other issues that impact his or her ability to function in the home, family, and/or community. Information from the diagnostic interview is used as part of the assessment to determine
Prepare for the diagnostic interview by reviewing any consumer documents that may be available. Review the Counselor's Desk Reference (CDR) chapters that are relevant to the disability, paying particular attention to the sample questions listed.
Encourage the consumer to speak freely since only the consumer can describe what he or she views as the impact of the disability on his or her ability to function independently. However, to accomplish the purpose of the interview, you must direct the course of the interview to gather the information needed to establish eligibility and begin to develop IL goals.
In the diagnostic interview case note, document the information from the interview including a thorough discussion about the person's disability and how it affects his or her ability to function independently in the home, family, and/or community. Include your impressions and/or the consumer's perspective on the following topics that are relevant to the consumer and in a manner that will be useful to you in developing the case.
Record your general impressions of the consumer's
Record information about personal and social adjustment, for example,
Record information about the nature and extent of the disability, for example,
Discuss the functional limitations imposed by the disability, and document how the limitations create a substantial impediment to independent living, such as
Document the consumer's resources, or lack of resources, that will affect participation in the IL process; for example,
Make note of any
Complete the application section in the electronic case management system, and enter the services requested on the IL Services page. This is not a commitment to provide all the services requested. See IL Services Descriptions.
Develop service records for projected services within five working days after the application is signed.
Initiate any assessments necessary to help determine eligibility for IL services, including the need for rehabilitation technology (see Chapter 5: Services, 5.7.1 Rehabilitation Technology Devices and Services).
Purchase orders may be issued for assessments and related services before the Plan Initiated Date. To ensure that the consumer's name will not be removed from the Interest and Waiting List, use only evaluation and assessment specifications and type services in the electronic system when creating the purchase order (see examples of evaluation and assessment specifications).
A person is eligible for IL services if
Determine eligibility for services without regard to age, color, creed, gender, national origin, race, religion, or type of significant disability. ILS consumers are usually at least 16 years of age; however, under certain circumstances you may serve younger consumers, such as transition students.
Presumption of eligibility based on being a recipient of Social Security disability benefits does not apply to the ILS program.
You must establish eligibility within 60 days after completing the application. If you cannot determine eligibility within 60 days after the application is completed, enter an extension of time in the electronic case management system.
A consumer cannot be eligible for more than one DRS program at the same time.
For consumers who meet ILS eligibility criteria,
*For consumers who do not have a significant disability, meet with the consumer to consult with him or her about the ineligibility decision or document that you offered a clear opportunity for this consultation. If the consumer is ineligible,
*Based on 34 CFR Section 364.51(b)
*If an applicant for IL services has been found ineligible, you must review the applicant's ineligibility at least once within 12 months after the ineligibility determination has been made and whenever you determine that the applicant's status has materially changed.
The review need not be conducted if the applicant has refused the review, the applicant is no longer present in the state, or the applicant's whereabouts are unknown.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 364.51(c)
After determining eligibility, the next major step in the ILS process is following a logical sequence to develop the Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan (IWRP) or waived plan.
Limit the assessment to gathering information necessary to
Building upon the information acquired during the diagnostic interview and through records, identify where gaps exist and a strategy for obtaining additional information.
Assess existing information to understand
Complete the following steps to assess existing information:
Ensure that assessments are provided in the most individualized and most integrated setting possible that is consistent with the consumer's informed choice.
If funds are not readily available to serve the consumer immediately after eligibility determination, do not purchase evaluations such as
Projected costs or specifications included in these evaluations could change before funds become available, making it necessary to repeat the evaluations when the consumer's name approaches the top of the Interest and Waiting List. Instead, to estimate the projected needs and costs, use
Two to three months before you anticipate having funds available to serve the consumer, purchase or obtain needed evaluations to determine actual costs and specifications.
Suitable IL goals relate directly to addressing the consumer's functional needs and what the consumer wants to achieve in order to access his or her home, family, and/or community.
IL goals are significant life achievements that
A consumer may have more than one goal listed on the DRS IWRP or waived plan. IL goals may be related to
See IL Goals and Outcomes for more information about each of these goals.
Examine the assessment information with the consumer as a full partner in the development process. Consider together whether options are consistent with the consumer's needs and attributes. Ensure that the IL goal or goals meet identified consumer needs and expectations. This approach supports the consumer's ability to make informed choices about
After agreeing on the goal or goals needed for the consumer to be able to function in his or her home, family, and community, and the steps, goods, and services necessary to reach the goal or goals, complete the IWRP and enter the appropriate goals in the ILS Goals page in the electronic case management system.
The purpose of an IWRP is for the consumer and counselor to collaboratively identify the significant life achievements needed for the consumer to become or remain independent in the home, family, or community; and to identify steps, goods, and services needed to achieve them.
Do not delay developing the IWRP because ILS funds are not available.
ILS consumers may choose to waive participation in developing the IWRP and agree to leave the planning process to you. If the consumer chooses to waive a plan, document that decision in the electronic case management system and proceed with developing the waived plan. The DARS5158, Waiver of Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan, documents both the consumer's decision to waive participation in the planning process and the consumer's permission for you to temporarily reset his or her personal identification number (PIN) in order to enter the necessary information into the electronic case management system.
Develop the waived plan in the electronic case management system as soon as possible after obtaining the consumer's signature on the DARS5158, Waiver of Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan. Because the consumer has waived participation, the following process can take place without the consumer being present in your office:
After the IWRP or waiver is signed, the consumer's name is removed from the ILS Interest and Waiting List when
Note: To avoid consumers being removed from the ILS Interest and Waiting List when you issue purchase orders for diagnostics after Plan Initiated, you must take care to develop service records appropriately. To ensure that the consumer's name will not be removed from the ILS Interest and Waiting List, use only evaluation and assessment specifications and service categories in the electronic case management system when creating the purchase order (see examples of evaluation and assessment specifications).
See also 8.5.3 Making Purchases before the Plan.
*Enter a case note documenting the anticipated duration of the consumer's service program.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 364.52(b)
Once IL goals are established, determine what services will be required to achieve those goals. Each service that you enter on the IWRP or waived plan must
Provide the consumer with options for service providers whenever available.
The ILS program does not provide
See IL Services Descriptions for information about services that may be needed.
You may not need to spend case service funds to help the consumer achieve his or her IL goals. Before you provide IL services to a consumer, or a consumer's family members, explore any possible comparable services or benefits under any other program and whether those services and benefits are available to the consumer. Record these services on the IWRP or waived plan as
Policies and procedures in Chapter 4: Assessing and Planning, 4.6 Consumer Participation in the Cost of Services apply except recipients of Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) are not exempt from participation in the cost of IL services.
After completing the IWRP or waived plan, and throughout the life of the case, update the ILS Individual Services screen in the electronic case management system to show whether services are In Progress, Cancelled, or Completed.
Vehicle modification is not an IL goal, although it may be an appropriate way to reach such IL goals as
Provide vehicle modification only when it is the most cost-effective way for the consumer to reach his or her IL goals. See Vehicle Modification Considerations for points to discuss with the consumer. Ensure that the consumer has enough income and resources to support
Document the decision-making process in case notes.
Note: The ILS program does not help consumers purchase a vehicle for modification.
If vehicle modification is the best way to reach the consumer's goals, but the consumer has not yet purchased or is not ready to purchase the vehicle to be modified, recommend that the consumer contact you when he or she is close to ready to purchase a vehicle.
Policies in Chapter 5: Services, 5.7.2 Vehicle Modification Services also apply to the purchase of vehicle modifications except vehicle modifications (including hand controls) may be purchased only after the IWRP or waived plan has been initiated.
Before the IWRP or waiver is signed, return to the Personal Information page under Application in the electronic case management system, and verify that the check box for "DRS Funds Needed for Planned Services" and "Ready for Services" field are accurate.
If the consumer is "Not Ready for Services" at the time the IWRP or waiver is signed, enter a case note with the title "Not Ready for IL Services" into the consumer's case record. The case note must document the reasons the consumer is not ready.
If the consumer continues to be “Not Ready for Services” for six months, consider closing the case as unsuccessful and recommending that the consumer contact you when he or she is ready to receive IL services.
After the IWRP or waiver is signed, the consumer’s name is removed from the ILS Interest and Waiting List when
To amend the IWRP when goals or services change, select Plan under the Plan menu in the electronic case management system or use DARS5162, Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan (IWRP) Amendment.
To amend goals or services being provided under a waived plan, document the changes in a case note.
*Review the IWRP or waived plan with the consumer (and/or consumer's representative) as often as necessary, but at least annually, on or before the anniversary date.*
*Based on 34 CFR Section 364.52 (c)
Budgets are distributed to ILS counselors each quarter during the state fiscal year.
You are responsible for
See guidance about ILS Budget Descriptions.
Budgets are monitored for timely and appropriate purchasing processes by
See the following guidance: Choosing the right budget to serve the next consumer on the ILS Interest and Waiting List.
When case service funds are not available, you must maintain an Interest and Waiting List within the electronic case management system of consumers for whom services have not yet been purchased.
The purpose of the ILS Interest and Waiting List is to track
The Interest portion of the list consists of
The Waiting portion of the list consists of consumers who
When funds become available, these consumers are served in order of the initial contact date.
You can find the ILS Interest and Waiting List for each caseload in ReHabWorks under "Reports". The list can be sorted by
When you complete an IWRP or waived plan and the consumer is ready to receive purchased services, the date of the initial contact determines the order in which you serve consumers.
The consumer's name remains on the ILS Interest and Waiting List if you
The consumer's name is removed from the ILS Interest and Waiting List if an IWRP or waiver is signed and you issue a purchase order for services other than assessment.
Because the Interest and Waiting List identifies consumers who are waiting to receive purchased services, the electronic case management system automatically removes a consumer's name from the Interest and Waiting List when
Once a consumer's name is removed from the ILS Interest and Waiting List, a new application is required to return the name to the list.
Serve consumers on the ILS Interest and Waiting List who have a developed or waived plan and who are ready for services, in order of the initial contact date.
A consumer with a developed plan or waived plan may not be ready to receive services for a variety of reasons; for example,
Document in a case note
In the electronic case management system under Application, select the Personal Information page to indicate that the consumer is not ready for services. This can be changed when the consumer is ready for services.
When a consumer has been “Not Ready for Services” for six months, close the case as "Unsuccessful" (see 8.12 Closing an ILS Case as Unsuccessful). Recommend that the consumer contact you when he or she is ready to receive IL services.
When the consumer with the oldest initial contact date has a signed plan or waiver but is not ready for services when funds become available, postpone purchased services for that consumer until he or she is ready.
Document in a case note
When the first consumer is not ready for services, serve the consumer with the next oldest initial contact date, who has a plan or waived plan and who is ready for services.
The first consumer maintains his or her next-to-be-served status and is served as soon as he or she is ready to receive services and adequate ILS funds are available to provide services.
When funds available are not sufficient to provide planned services to the first consumer ready for services, provide services to the consumer with the next oldest initial contact date who has a plan or waived plan and is ready for services.
The first consumer maintains his or her next-to-be-served status, and you should provide services as soon as adequate ILS funds are available to do so.
Document in the first consumer's case notes
Contact the consumer regularly, but at least every 60 days, while the consumer's name is on the ILS Interest and Waiting List.
Use these contacts with the consumer to
Record all consumer contacts in the case notes.
Unlike the VR program, it is not necessary to wait 90 days following provision of services to close an ILS case as "Successful."
You may close an ILS case as "Successful" if
Send the consumer a letter documenting that the criteria have been achieved (DARS5217, ILS Successful Closure letter).
Under the Application menu in the electronic case management system, update the IL Services page at closure.
Make the decision to close a case as Unsuccessful only after
Regardless of the type of closure, case files must document the closure with
See Reasons for Unsuccessful Closure. In every case, the reason for closure must be evident to the reasonable reader. The case file must reflect the
Notify the consumer of the decision to close the case using DARS5213, ILS Unsuccessful Closure letter. The notification is not required only when the reason for closure is "unable to locate" or "consumer death."
If a consumer has been determined to be eligible, but an IWRP or waiver has not been signed, close the case as Unsuccessful if
After the IWRP or waiver has been signed, close the case as Unsuccessful for one of the reasons listed in 8.12.1, or when
Update the ILS Goals and Individual Services screens in the electronic case management system at closure.
If an ILS consumer who has already been served, applies for services because of a new disability, open a new case. The area manager must approve opening a new case with the same disability within two years after closure.
If the person does not have a new disability but needs additional services, provide them as post-closure services. IL post-closure services are limited to maintenance, repair, or upkeep of equipment initially provided as part of IL services. Do not use post-closure services to buy new or additional equipment.
Providing post-closure services requires an amendment to the IWRP. If the consumer signed a waiver, document provision of post-closure services in a case note.
When post-closure services are necessary,
Post-closure services are ordinarily limited to a total of $2,000 per consumer, not $2,000 each time the case is opened in Post-Closure Services.
You may provide post-closure services immediately without putting the consumer at the end of the ILS Interest and Waiting List if you have funds available in your budget.
You may transfer an ILS case only to another designated ILS counselor, and only when the consumer
Do not transfer a case when the consumer needs services outside your area, but not within the area of another ILS counselor. In these situations, you issue all purchase orders for services, but a non-ILS counselor may help implement the services.
To transfer a case to another ILS counselor, follow procedures in Chapter 11: Technical Information and References, 11.4.2 How to Transfer an Active Case.