A collaborative approach to achieve your employment goals
The Independent Living Department also includes the Independent Living and Vocational Rehabilitation (IL/VR) team. Established in 2008, this service offers a unique collaboration for people with disabilities seeking employment. MCIL staff members serve 13 metro-area Vocational Rehabilitation offices through Benefits Coaching and other Independent Living services. As job seekers pursue employment goals with their Vocational Rehabilitation Job Counselor, they can also work with an MCIL specialist to remove barriers. The IL/VR Specialist helps people to understand the impact of work on their benefits, secure affordable housing, get health insurance, apply for social security, learn to use public transportation, locate resource to address basic needs, and more. Participants in this program must be currently actively enrolled in state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services program and be referred by their job counselor.
When an individual is looking for new job opportunities or support in advancing your independent living goals, MCIL encourages they begin by getting signed up with a Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) counselor. Some helpful links to get started:
- General "Job Seekers"
- People with Disabilities
- Blind or Visually Impaired
- Find a Vocational Rehabilitation Services office
Once a person establishes a relationship with a VRS counselor, they can discuss their goals and eligibility for MCIL’s Independent Living / Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IL/VR) program. The program is a collaboration between MCIL and Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Participation is available on a referral-only basis.
The MCIL IL/VR Specialists are stationed at VRS offices around the state, typically housed at Minnesota CareerForce Centers, and work closely with VRS counselors. When a person works with Vocational Rehabilitation Services, the focus is on employment. By adding an MCIL IL/VR Specialist to their team, they have a personal advocate who can provide additional assistance, such as helping an individual learn about the impact of employment income on their benefits, working with them to find affordable housing, and providing information on helpful community resources.
Services provided by an MCIL IL/VR Specialist may include:
- Benefits coaching: Services to help an individual understand how employment income may impact public benefits, learn how to navigate benefits systems, programs, and resources to reach financial goals and further independence.
- Budgeting and financial education
- Housing search assistance and resources
- Navigating state and county services, such as health insurance, financial assistance programs, and home and community supports
Contact the nearest Vocational Rehabilitation Services office to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How can I work with an IL/VR Specialist
The IL/VR Collaboration is not a walk-in service. To work with an IL/VR Specialist, a person must be receiving services from VRS, and their VRS counselor will need to make a referral to the program. If a person is receiving services from VRS and is interested in working with an IL/VR Specialist, they should contact their VRS counselor to ask about getting a referral.
What are examples how an MCIL IL/VR Specialist can help me?
Individuals can work one-on-one with our advocates to gain a greater understanding of how employment income will affect their benefits, navigate benefits programs, find resources to meet their financial goals, learn more about financial independence. They can also help with housing searches, financial assistance resources, talking to their county services worker, resolving issues with Social Security, and more.
MCIL also has classes that teach skills for independent living such as cooking classes, preparing for the written permit test to drive a vehicle, basic budgeting, social groups, and more. These classes are subject to change based on community interest. These classes are open to the public.
Where can I learn more about Vocational Rehabilitation Services?
For more information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Employed and Empowered
Bill is 24-years old and recently graduated with a degree in finance. He is on the autism spectrum and was feeling extremely anxious in social situations. He was particularly nervous about the job interview process as he pursued employment opportunities. MCIL Independent Living Specialist Melody, worked with Bill on developing his résumé, and coached him through numerous practice interviews and guided him through real-life questions and answers. Bill gained confidence and new coping strategies. After just a few interviews with potential employer he successfully landed a position in finance at a well-known bank. Bill has reported that he’s learning a great deal and is happy in his new job.
In 2019, 1,108 job seekers were assisted by Independent Living Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists.