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National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

image: NDEAM LogoHeld each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year's theme is "A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?"

Throughout the month, locally-sponsored DVR events will recognize businesses for their efforts to recruit, hire and retain employees with disabilities! Here are some of the events that are planned for October:

  • 9th     Employer Recognition Luncheon, WDA 8
  • 10th   RCS/Hearthstone Employer Recognition Luncheon, WDA 5
  • 15th   WDB Annual Meeting/Employer Recognition, WDA 9
  • 16th   Employer Recognition Event (Walker Forge, Inc.), WDA 5
  • 17th   IndependenceFirst Disability Mentoring Day, WDA 2
  • 23rd   Employer Recognition Event/County Board Meeting, WDA 5
  • 25th   Employer Recognition Breakfast, WDA 3
  • 25th   Employer Recognition Event/ASPIRO, WDA 5
  • 26th   Opportunities for Success Awards Luncheon, WDA 7
  • 31st   Agriculture Tour, WDA 11

Social Security Reimbursement Update

Submitted by Gina Haupt - Social Security Reimbursement/Ticket Specialist

image: Reimbursement LogoSince June of 2012, DVR has received $2,160,496.90 in cost reimbursement claims from Social Security. Some of these cases were referrals from the Cold Case Unit (CCU) including one that was worth over $100,000! At this time, the ticket specialist continues to review DVR cases that can be submitted to Social Security for cost reimbursement claims.

Did you know that DVR can submit claims on cases that were closed unsuccessful, successful, or are currently open on individuals that might now be working and are going off benefits? In fact, DVR can submit claims on cases that were closed as far back as 2007 as long as the consumer has worked 9 out 12 months at or above SGA in the past year. The key to remember is that DVR has one year from the time an individual reaches 9 out of 12 months of SGA to submit a claim. If DVR misses that time frame, the claim will be denied. It does not matter to Social Security if those 9 months worked are not related to the DVR goal, just that there are 9 out of 12 months of work activity at SGA.

Another thing that is helpful is that Social Security will accept UI wage data as supporting proof. However, it always speeds up the process and provides better insurance that DVR will be approved for payment on the claim if paystubs can be submitted. So, whenever possible, please get pay stubs.

The latest thing from Social Security is that they will be providing DVR with a report of individuals who have worked with DVR in the past and appear to be working at or above SGA for 9 out of 12 months. This report will be monitored by the ticket specialist and is important because it is somewhat difficult for DVR to track out-of-state individuals and individuals that work for the federal government. This report will contain information on those individuals, hopefully, allowing for more successful cost reimbursement claims.

None of this could have happened without the field staff doing such a great job and helping DVR consumers to reach their goals of becoming more self sufficient! Keep up the wonderful work!

Cold Case Unit Update

Submitted by Suzanne Lee - CCU LTE

image: Looking Glass ImageThe Cold Case Unit (CCU) began operation in March of this year. The CCU is staffed by Gina Haupt, full time Social Security reimbursement/ticket specialist and Ralph Mikell and Greg Feypel both BEP specialists who are able to commit approximately 25-50% time to the CCU. The CCU also includes three retired DVR WDA directors: Cindy Cain (WDA 3), Mike Schroeder (WDA 7), and Suzanne Lee (WDA 11).

Over the past six months, the CCU has worked primarily on cases in the Southeastern area of Wisconsin with a goal of either reconnecting consumers, initiating more regular contact, or closing cases. In the process, the CCU has identified more that 70 successful closures which were credited to the field. The CCU also helped with the review of UI wage data on active and closed cases to identify possible reimbursement candidates.

The CCU accepts referrals from the field for people where the field may have lost contact or cannot locate and staff would like some additional assistance with reengagement. We have also had some good luck in getting employment verification, and in identifying out-of-state wages.

The CCU is beginning to work on a pilot for centralized eligibility/OOS determination. Exact details of the pilot are still open. The pilot would need to demonstrate that the process was more efficient and freed up field staff time for concentration on IPE development & implementation.

Please make referrals to the CCU by sending an e-mail to DWD MB DVR Cold Case Unit.

Thanks for a Job Well Done

Christopher Gerou, VRC - Kenosha

Letter received by WDA 1 Director Patti Johnson

I was approved to receive services from DVR in December 2011. I was placed on a waiting list until April 2012. I was assigned to a vocational rehabilitation counselor, Christopher Gerou.

I met with Christopher in April 2012. We discussed the issues that I was having with my current and previous hearing instruments, as well as, my vocational aspirations. Christopher shared with me the benefits that I could gain from wearing digital hearing instruments. He also set me up an appointment to visit the Community Audiology Services with an appointment with Dr. Heather Zingler. My appointment with Dr. Zingler was everything that Christopher assured me that it would be. Dr. Zingler was very professional and knowledgeable. Both Christopher and Dr. Zingler listened to me as I shared with them my past experience with hearing instruments. One of my biggest concerns with my current and previous instruments was that my hearing instruments improved my hearing some, but not very much, and that I did not feel comfortable talking because my voice sounded muffled to me. As a result of Christopher facilitating my appointment with Dr. Zingler, and because of the support from DVR, I am now wearing digital hearing instruments that I absolutely love. I feel more confident when I speak to others, and I have more control of my hearing abilities because I can control the volume and programs from my ComPilot.

I am also a full-time student a Walden University. I am studying to earn a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. I have exhausted all of my financial aid opportunities. Therefore, I have been paying my tuition since fall 2008. I was administratively removed from the university after the spring quarter in 2012 for an outstanding tuition balance. I discussed my issues with Christopher. Christopher inspired me to contact Walden's President and request assistance with reducing a debt that I had that was preventing me from enrolling and completing my studies. Christopher empowered me by reminding me of skills that I possessed. Christopher coached, encouraged me by saying a number of things to me within my hour visit. What really helped me to get inspired was that I knew that Christopher believed in me. I knew that he believed in me because from the first day that we met he told me that he believed in me and assured me that he would do all that he could through DVR to assist me with meeting my vocational goals.

In the end, this week I learned that Walden approved my appeal and wrote off a debt of over $4,000.00. As a result, I will be able to enroll and continue my dissertation study in September 2012.

Finally, Christopher facilitated a meeting between myself and Gary who also works for DVR. Gary has worked with me for the past two months. During this time, he has taught me how to compose a cover letter and resume, and how to submit professional job applications to obtain a teaching position in higher education. Gary has also provided me with the opportunity to be a guest speaker at a local college to gain higher education teaching experience.

All of the work that Christopher has done to assist me with obtaining supports for my hearing loss and my vocational aspirations has been invaluable. I just wanted to take the time to share this information with you because I believe that you would appreciate knowing the wonderful things that Christopher and others that you supervise are doing.

Christopher Ruesch, VRC - Wisconsin Rapids

Thank you so much for all that you do! The things that you are doing for me will have a very positive on my life!

Rebecca Meidam, VRC - Oshkosh

Email from the parent of a consumer

I just wanted to drop you a note of sincere thanks. (Consumer name) has been attending these meetings with Cheri and Jana with zero reservations and actually looks forward to going to them. This is a whole new journey for us as a family, actually more of a continuation of having a young adult with special needs. The care, concern and kindness that (consumer name) has received while working with all of you is very reassuring. I appreciate the two way communication and look forward to making further inroads with Cheri and Jana. Thank you again!!

Lori Lenhard, VRC - Wisconsin Rapids

Email received by Rick Clark, WDA 6 VR Supervisor, from a DVR service provider

I just wanted to send you a quick note so you know what a pleasure it has been to team up with Lori. I feel she and I very much embody a team approach to working with our consumers; she's excellent from a vendor standpoint to help dig out information during a consult, and also helpful with sharing contacts, suggestions, and potential job development leads for those consumers actively looking for work. This approach is so helpful for rapport and relationship building between our two offices, as well as for the benefit of our consumers!

Evelyn Cummings, CCP - Central Office

Email from Kim Bruno, VR Counselor, Waukesha

Evelyn, thanks to your attention to detail, the FA office at Aurora emailed me back and broke that down into R&B, transportation and living expenses and whaddya know, it lowered the TG amount! Thank you as always.

What's New/Updated on the Web

Employment Network Updates

The following materials have been updated - the counties served by the Employment Networks (ENs) were removed. The closure letters in IRIS have also been updated.

Staff Updates

New Faces/Transfers:

  • Josephine Herrera-Miller, VR Counselor - Fond du Lac
  • Susan Chandek, VR Supervisor - WDA 2
  • Sarah Fanning, Consumer Case Coordinator - Janesville
  • Sia Yang, VR Counselor - Menomonie
  • Sara Kline, VR Assistant (LTE) - Green Bay
  • Bonnie Boyle, Consumer Case Coordinator (LTE) - Milwaukee NW
  • Kassey Andersen, VR Assistant (LTE) - Wausau


  • Diane Kreuser, Consumer Case Coordinator - WDA 6