The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) provides employment services and counseling to people with disabilities who want to work, but face barriers due to their disabilities. Sometimes a DVR client will disagree with a DVR decision. This publication describes the steps DVR clients can take to try to resolve a dispute with DVR.
Ways to Resolve a Dispute with DVR
1. Resolve the Dispute Informally within DVR
If a DVR client is unhappy with a DVR decision, the client can speak with the client’s DVR counselor and ask why the counselor made that decision. If speaking to the counselor does not resolve the problem, the DVR client can speak with the DVR Supervisor in the office where the client receives services and/or the DVR director to discuss their concerns. DVR clients can also ask for information about how to submit a request for an “Exception to Policy” from their DVR Counselor or DVR Supervisor. Lastly, a DVR client can contact a DVR Customer Service Representative by calling the DVR State Office at (800) 637-5627.
2. Contact the Client Assistance Program (CAP) for Assistance
If informal discussions do not resolve the dispute, a DVR client can contact the Client Assistance Program (CAP) for assistance. CAP is a private, non-profit program that offers information and advocacy services to DVR clients. CAP attempts to resolve disagreements informally with DVR. If informal efforts are not successful, CAP may represent an individual in mediation or an administrative fair hearing.
CAP can be contacted at:
Washington State Client Assistance Program
2531 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 721-5999 / (206) 721-6072 (TTY)
(800) 544-2121 / (888) 721-6072 (TTY)
Bcap@qwestoffice.net or Jcap@qwestoffice.net
3. Request Mediation
A DVR client may ask for mediation any time the client disagrees with a DVR decision that affects the client’s DVR services. Mediation is a process in which a trained mediator conducts a meeting with the DVR client and a representative from DVR to help settle a disagreement. Mediation is a voluntary process, which means that the client and DVR must both agree to participate. The mediator’s job is to help the client and DVR talk about the problem and come to an agreement. A DVR client may request that a CAP representative assist them in this process. DVR pays for the mediator and the mediator cannot be a DVR employee. DVR may pay for services the client needs to participate in mediation, such as childcare and transportation. Agreements reached through mediation are not legally binding, but clients must receive a copy of the written agreement.
4. Request a Fair Hearing
A person who disagrees with a DVR decision may also request a fair hearing. A client may request both mediation and a fair hearing at the same time. A fair hearing is conducted by an administrative law judge. During the hearing, the DVR client and DVR present information, witnesses, and/or documents. An attorney, representative from CAP, or any other person may represent the client during the hearing. The administrative law judge makes a decision after hearing all of the information presented, reviewing any documents submitted, and reviewing relevant laws and regulations.
To request a fair hearing, the client should send a letter to the Office of Administrative Hearings. The letter requesting the hearing must include:
- The DVR client’s name, address, and telephone number;
- The agency with which the client has a dispute (DVR);
- The reasons why the client is dissatisfied or disagrees with the agency’s decision; and
- Any other information or documents that relate to the matter.
A DVR client may ask any DVR employee for assistance with submitting a request for a fair hearing. A client may request a fair hearing while continuing to attempt to resolve the issue through negotiation with DVR. DVR services will not be suspended, reduced, or terminated simply because a fair hearing is requested.
A request for a fair hearing must be submitted within 45 calendar days of the date the DVR counselor makes the decision with which the client disagrees. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) holds the fair hearing within 60 days of receipt of the written request, unless the DVR client or DVR request a later date and OAH determines there is reasonable cause for the delay. After the conclusion of the fair hearing, OAH sends out a written report within 30 days. If a DVR client does not agree with the OAH decision, they may pursue civil action through superior court to review that decision.
More information on fair hearings is available at the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings website, found at http://www.oah.wa.gov.
5. Contact Disability Rights Washington (DRW)
Disability Rights Washington (DRW) is a private, non-profit organization that protects the rights of people with disabilities statewide. DRW provides information, referrals, and self-advocacy strategies to people with disabilities who are having disputes with DVR through its Technical Assistance Services program.
DRW can be contacted at:
Disability Rights Washington
315 5th Ave S, Ste 850
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 324-1521 / (800) 562-2702
The following federal funding partner shared in the cost of producing this material: the Rehabilitation Services Administration, RSA (H240A140048). These contents are the sole responsibility of Disability Rights Washington and do not necessarily represent the official views of RSA.
This information is a service of Disability Rights Washington (DRW). It provides general information as a public service only, and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should contact an attorney. You do not have an attorney-client relationship with DRW. If you would like more information about this topic or would like to receive this information in an alternative format call DRW at (800) 562-2702, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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