(Review of Rehabilitation Counselor Decisions)

Rehabilitation Services (RS) procedures

Applicants, clients or former clients who are dissatisfied with any determination by the rehabilitation counselor regarding the provision or denial of vocational rehabilitation (VR) services may request timely review of those determinations through a mediation process, informal resolution or formal hearing. A client's or applicant's representative may also make such a request. Such requests must be made within 30 days of the agency decision in question.

Applicants and clients are informed of their appeal rights in writing at key stages of the rehabilitation process. Key stages of the rehabilitation process include, but are not limited to, application, determination of eligibility, determination of ineligibility, Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) development, IPE/service changes and case closure. The information on appeal rights must include the name and address with whom to file requests for reviews. Information about the Client Assistance Program (CAP) must also be provided. One method of providing this information is through the Handbook of Services. This information will be made available in an accessible mode of communication.

When exercising appeal rights, the individual or his/her representative may present evidence or information to support their position. The individual may be represented by an attorney, advocate or any other person selected by the individual if that is his/her choice.

Informal resolution: Individuals are encouraged to discuss any problems directly with their counselor or counselor's supervisor to see if the problem can be resolved. Often CAP facilitates such informal discussions. Or, an administrative review may be conducted by a RS Program Administrator who has not been involved in the case. Use of these informal methods is not required. If the individual chooses not to pursue informal methods, or if the issues were not resolved informally, the next step is a formal hearing which must be conducted within 45 days of the individual's original request for review.

Mediation: Applicants and eligible individuals may resolve disputes through mediation. Mediation services must be presented as an option whenever an individual requests a fair hearing.

Formal hearings (fair hearings): These hearings are conducted by Fair Hearing Officers from the Office of Administrative Hearings. These hearings must occur within 45 days of an individual's request for review, unless resolution is achieved or the parties agree to a specific extension of time. While such a hearing is pending, services being provided under an IPE may not be suspended, reduced or terminated unless requested by the client or unless there is evidence that the services have been obtained through misrepresentation or fraud.

During a fair hearing, the client or his/her representative and the agency have the opportunity to present evidence or witnesses and to question other witnesses and evidence. The client may be represented by an attorney or advocate if that is his/her choice. The hearings officer makes decisions based on the State Plan, the Rehabilitation Act, VR regulations and state policies. Decisions are provided to the individual and RS
Director within 30 days of the hearing.

In most situations, if the client is not represented by an attorney during fair hearings or other proceedings, RS will not be represented by an attorney. Exceptions will be made at the discretion of the RS Director. Staff may seek consultation or technical assistance from the DCF Legal Department or local office Attorneys prior to the hearings or proceedings if appropriate.

Review of formal hearings (fair hearings) decisions: Kansas has established the following procedures for the review of decisions of the fair hearings officer.

District Court: The client may bring a civil action for review of decisions by hearings officers or the State Appeals Committee/Secretary of DCF. The civil action may be brought in any State court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States of competent jurisdiction without regard to the amount in controversy.

In such actions, the court:

Effective Date: July 1, 2000