Client Assistance Program (CAP)

August 17, 2020

Are you a person with a disability getting help with employment from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)?

Are you working with an Independent Living (IL) Center? Tennessee’s IL Centers are: Memphis Center for Independent LivingT.A.R.P. in ParisJackson Center for Independent Living;  Empower TN in Middle TNTRAC in Chattanooga; and Disability Resource Center in Knoxville.

Have you ever asked your VR counselor for something to help achieve your goals and they said “No?” 

Do you ever feel confused about what services or help VR could give you?

Do you have problems with your counselor not calling you back?

If you have answered “YES” to any of these questions and are having a problem, you can call Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) and ask for help from our Client Assistance Program (CAP). When you call CAP at DRT you can talk to an advocate to see how we might be able to help with your issue. 

Client Assistance Program

Every state has a Client Assistance Program that was created by the Rehabilitation Act. The Rehabilitation Act is the federal law that created Vocational Rehabilitation and the Independent Living programs. The Client Assistance Program provides education, advocacy, and representation to people with disabilities being served by Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Center for Independed Living (IL) programs, if needed.

CAP can help people with disabilities using VR and IL programs with the following:

  • Understand their rights and responsibilities under these programs, 
  • Solve problems and misunderstandings between counselors and their customers, 
  • Assist those customers with appeal efforts, and
  • Advocate for appropriate transition services.

CAP and Vocational Rehabilitation

Our CAP staff can help in many ways. We can explain VR policies and federal law. We can give you options to solve the problem you are having with VR. Sometimes, CAP advocates will explain to you why VR cannot give you the service you want. VR can provide certain services and not others. At other times, the advocate can help you get the services you need to help you find and succeed in the job you want.

Your CAP advocate will help you understand the VR program and help you and your counselor get back on the same page. We all disagree sometimes. However, we need to work together so you get the services you need to achieve your job goal.

VR is required to provide their customers with information about CAP, including how to contact us. These are the times when you are working with VR that they must give you CAP information:

  • When you apply for VR services,
  • When you are assigned to a priority category,
  • When your Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) is developed, and
  • When any of your VR services are suspended, reduced, or ended.

Be sure to read any papers VR gives you at these times and look for our CAP information.

CAP and Center for Independent Living

CAP can also help if you have concerns or questions about services from a Center for Independent Living (CIL).  We can help you understand the core services that all IL programs must provide. CAP can help you in working with CIL staff to develop your independent living plan. We can also help if you have been denied services or your case has been closed and you disagree with that decision.

CAP’s Other Services

CAP staff mainly help individuals with issues about services from Vocational Rehabilitation or Centers for Independent Living. However, CAP also assists in other ways:

  • Explains employment rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act,
  • Meets with the VR administration to try to solve common problems for VR customers,
  • Reviews VR policies and discuss concerns with VR,
  • Reviews and comment on VR and IL state plans,
  • Serves on the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), and
  • Provides training about CAP services to VR staff and customers.

The goal of CAP is to help customers who have problems with IL or VR programs, which also helps make services better for future customers. 

Contact us if you need help with a current problem. Phone: 1-800-342-1660; Email:

This piece was written by DRT advocates Tricia Griggs and Becky Allen. With their West Tennessee counterpart, they have over 25 years combined experience advocating for Tennesseans with disabilities. This piece was first published in Breaking Ground in August 2020