SSR 64-13

In July 1963 a 31-year-old totally deaf worker, entitled to disability insurance benefits, was offered vocational rehabilitation services by his State rehabilitation agency. At first he refused the offer absolutely, then subsequently notified the agency that he was interested only in a job in his former occupation with a minimum wage of $2.25 an hour; further, the job must be located in or close to his home town, and he must have a lifetime guarantee of employment. Held, beginning July 1963, he is subject to deductions precluding payment of disability insurance benefits, because of refusal without good cause to accept the vocational rehabilitation services offered to him.

A worker, R, who had become totally and irremediably deaf, filed application for, and was awarded, disability insurance benefits beginning March 1963, when he was 31 years old. R has no physical or mental impairment other than his deafness.

In accordance with section 222(a) of the Social Security Act, the Administration had referred R for necessary rehabilitation services to the agency of his State administering the State Plan for such services approved under the Vocational Rehabilitation Act. In July 1963, this agency wrote to R requesting him to report to its office, so that an evaluation of his rehabilitation potential could be made and appropriate services offered. R initially notified the agency that he was not interested in its services. However, he agreed to accept rehabilitation services after being informed that no disability insurance benefits could be paid for any month in which he refused without good cause to accept such services.

Later in the same month (July 1963) R was visited by a rehabilitation counselor from the agency, who explained vocational rehabilitation services to him and again offered him the opportunity to be evaluated for such services. The counselor advised R there was a good chance that, with vocational rehabilitation, R could be restored to employability in any of several occupations, one of which would be selected after necessary tests and counseling. R told the counselor that he was a pipe coverer by trade and would not accept training for any other type of work. He stated further that he would accept a job as a pipe coverer, but only at wages of at least $2.25 per hour and with a "lifetime guarantee" of employment. In addition, he specified that the employment must be within or close to his home town. The counselor explained that his agency could not promise to find such work for R, but would be glad to proceed with services necessary for vocational rehabilitation if and when R notified the agency that he was willing to accept such services. R took no further step toward utilizing the services of the agency.

Section 222(b) of the Act deals with deductions where an individual who is entitled either to disability insurance benefits, or to child's insurance benefits for a month in which he is age 18 or older, refuses to accept vocational rehabilitation services. For each month in which a person entitled to disability insurance benefits refuses, without good cause, to accept rehabilitation services available to him under a State plan approved under the Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Act, his benefit is subject, under section 222(b), to a deduction equal to the amount of the benefit, thus precluding any payment. In addition, a deduction must be imposed, precluding payment for such month of any wife's, husband's or child's benefit based on his earnings record.

The issue is whether R has refused without "good cause" to accept vocational rehabilitation services.

The term "vocational rehabilitation services" includes, as a necessary prerequisite to any actual training or rehabilitation, the diagnostic and related services designed to determine a person's eligibility for vocational rehabilitation and the nature and scope of the services to be provided him. A beneficiary who refuses to permit an evaluation of his eligibility for training or other services necessary to restore his employability is therefore considered to have refused vocational rehabilitation services. In the absence of "good cause," such refusal requires deductions under section 222(b). The deductions begin with the first month in which such refusal occurred, and continue up to (but not including) the first month thereafter in which the beneficiary accepts in good faith vocational rehabilitation services offered, or has good cause for refusal of such services, or in which vocational rehabilitation services are no longer available to him.

In the instant case, the conditions placed by R upon his cooperation are unreasonable in view of his youth and general good health. A counter offer so conditioned, subsequent to R's preemptory refusal of the offer of services, is equivalent to a refusal of the services without a showing of good cause.

Accordingly, it is held that R has refused without good cause to accept available and approved vocational rehabilitation services; and, therefore, that his disability insurance benefits are subject to deductions precluding any payment of such benefits for months beginning July 1963. Such deductions will continue until the first month in which he accepts the vocational rehabilitation services offered, or shows good cause for refusal of such services, or in which the services are no longer available.

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