Vocational Rehabilitation Services Manual A-200: Customer Rights and Legal Issues


Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Division (TWC-VR) places the highest priority on maintaining the customer's rights while the customer participates in the rehabilitation process. The customer should know that VR counselors and staff members actively protect the customer's personal information and safety.

Systems to monitor service delivery include explicit and implicit processes for maintaining a safe and secure environment within which the customer progresses toward goals. When the VR counselor and the customer do not agree about furnishing or denying services, systems exist to safeguard the customer's:

  • right to appeal,
  • access to mediation, and
  • process for resolving disagreements.

Maintaining these rights supports the key values of VR.

Return to Top

A-201: Legal Authorization

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Act) was amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law on July 22, 2014. Changes to the Act made by WIOA have been implemented through amendments to the regulations governing the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services program (VR program) [34 CFR part 361] and State Supported Employment Services program (Supported Employment program) [34 CFR part 363], administered by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).

1. Consumer rights under the individualized plan for employment (IPE)

The changes to 34 CFR §361.45, "Development of the individualized plan for employment," are intended to efficiently and effectively serve eligible individuals, move them through the VR process with minimal delay, and achieve employment outcomes in competitive integrated employment.

It is important to note that the state is required to provide certain information to each eligible individual or, as appropriate, the individual's representative, which include the option to develop all or part of the IPE, with assistance from various individuals or organizations; an explanation for determining an eligible individual's financial commitments under an IPE; a description of the rights and remedies available to the individual; and a description of and contact information for a client assistance program (CAP). Subsection (c) of 34 CFR 361.45 is set out below, relating to requirements for development of the IPE.

§361.45 (c) Required information. The State unit must provide the following information to each eligible individual or, as appropriate, the individual's representative, in writing and, if appropriate, in the native language or mode of communication of the individual or the individual's representative:

(1) Options for developing an individualized plan for employment. Information on the available options for developing the individualized plan for employment, including the option that an eligible individual or, as appropriate, the individual's representative may develop all or part of the individualized plan for employment—

(i) Without assistance from the State unit or other entity; or

(ii) With assistance from—

(A) A qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor employed by the State unit;

(B) A qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor who is not employed by the State unit;

(C) A disability advocacy organization; or

(D) Resources other than those in paragraph (c)(1)(ii)(A) through (C) of this section.

(2) Additional information. Additional information to assist the eligible individual or, as appropriate, the individual's representative in developing the individualized plan for employment, including—

(i) Information describing the full range of components that must be included in an individualized plan for employment;

(ii) As appropriate to each eligible individual—

(A) An explanation of agency guidelines and criteria for determining an eligible individual's financial commitments under an individualized plan for employment;

(B) Information on the availability of assistance in completing State unit forms required as part of the individualized plan for employment; and

(C) Additional information that the eligible individual requests or the State unit determines to be necessary to the development of the individualized plan for employment;

(iii) A description of the rights and remedies available to the individual, including, if appropriate, recourse to the processes described in §361.57; and

(iv) A description of the availability of a client assistance program established under part 370 of this chapter and information on how to contact the client assistance program.

(3) Individuals entitled to benefits under Title II or XVI of the Social Security Act. For individuals entitled to benefits under Title II or XVI of the Social Security Act on the basis of a disability or blindness, the State unit must provide to the individual general information on additional supports and assistance for individuals with disabilities desiring to enter the workforce, including assistance with benefits planning.

2. Consumer rights to review of determinations

Section 102(c) of the Act, as amended by WIOA, establishes an appeals process for individuals who are not satisfied with the services that the VR program is or is not providing, giving individuals the right to pursue mediation as a means of resolving the complaint. The Act also establishes a formal hearing process and a judicial review process for individuals.

Additionally, the Act establishes the Client Assistance Program (CAP) to assist individuals in resolving disputes with the VR agency. The CAP has the authority to advocate on an individual's behalf to resolve a dispute between the individual and the VR agency. Customers can contact the CAP in their state directly for further advice and assistance regarding rights to appeal.

Section 361.57 of 34 CFR requires the designated state unit (DSU) to develop and implement procedures to ensure a customer can request a review of any determination made by DSU personnel. These procedures must provide notification of the customer's rights, including the right to obtain a review of DSU determinations through an impartial due process hearing or through mediation, and the right to receive assistance from the CAP through either process.

It is important to note that the DSU may not suspend, reduce, or terminate a customer's VR services pending resolution through an informal process, mediation, or a formal hearing unless the customer or their representative, as appropriate, agrees or TWC has evidence that services have been obtained through misrepresentation, fraud, collusion, or criminal conduct. The Office of the Attorney General will inform the VR counselor if TWC has evidence that services have been obtained through unlawful means.

TWC rules governing VR hearings and mediation procedures were transferred from the Department of Assistive and Regulatory Services (DARS) and are found in 40 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 850.

Return to Top

A-202: Basic Rights

VR customers are afforded certain basic rights, which include:

  • the right to informed choice;
  • the right to be informed in writing of their rights;
  • the right to services that are nondiscriminatory;
  • the right to protection of personal information contained in the division's records, and
  • the right to appeal decisions regarding their planned services or their eligibility for such services.

Applicant and customer rights applicable to each VR program are summarized in a brochure entitled Vocational Rehabilitation Appeal Procedures - Can We Talk? (PDF). A copy of the brochure is to be provided to the customer, at a minimum:

  • at application;
  • at the time of initial plan development, if one is developed;
  • when services are being reduced, suspended, or terminated; and
  • upon applicant/customer request.

For a detailed description of the appeals process, see VRSM A-204: Appeals and Hearings in this chapter.

Note: The VR counselor must document in the case file (on the VR application, IPE, letter, or in a case note) any time the "Can We Talk?" brochure is provided to an applicant or a customer.

Applicants and customers may call TWC at 1-800-252-3642 or the CAP at 1-800-252-9108 for more information about their rights.

A-202-1: Nondiscrimination Policy

VR does not exclude, deny benefits, limit participation, or otherwise discriminate against any individual who is otherwise qualified in the administration of services based on:

  • race;
  • color;
  • sex;
  • national origin;
  • age;
  • disability; or
  • religion.

A-202-2: Civil Rights Complaints

All discrimination complaints received by VR, either directly from a customer or through an external compliance agency, must be forwarded immediately to the TWC Equal Opportunity Officer (Attn: EO Program, Regulatory Integrity Division) by the VR staff member receiving the complaint.

Detailed information about policies, services, and procedures may be found on TWC's "Equal Opportunity is the Law" web page.

A-202-3: Allegations of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation

Texas Family Code §261.101 requires a professional individual who has cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any individual to immediately (within 48 hours) report the suspected abuse.

Texas Human Resources Code §48.051 requires a professional individual to make a report if there is cause to believe that an individual age 65 or older or an adult with a mental illness or intellectual disability is being abused, neglected, or exploited.

To report allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, the individual who has cause to believe that abuse, neglect, or exploitation has occurred immediately:

  • contacts law enforcement if the incident is a threat to health or safety;
  • reports the incident to the appropriate investigatory agency, as listed in the table below; and
  • notifies their manager, supervisor, or the appropriate contract manager of the allegation.

The supervisor, manager, or the appropriate contract manager:

  • consults with TWC Regulatory Integrity Division for next steps;
  • consults with TWC Office of General Counsel (OGC), as appropriate;
  • consults with TWC Human Resources for next steps;
  • fills out an RSM-3120, Security Incident Report, on the same day, but no later than 48 hours after the date the allegation was made, and forwards it by email to Incident Reports – RSM, and to his or her chain-of-command; and
  • documents which investigatory agency was contacted in the customer's case file, including the reference number provided by the investigatory agency.

Any staff member who has cause to believe that a minor child, an adult with a disability, or an individual 65 years of age or older is at risk of or in a state of harm due to abuse, neglect, or exploitation shall immediately report the information to the appropriate investigatory agency and, if the incident is a threat to health or safety, the local law enforcement agency.

Reporting suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation to the appropriate investigatory agency directly is required, regardless of the circumstances.

The reporting process is as follows.

If the alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation occurs in:

The TWC staff member who has cause to believe abuse, neglect, or exploitation has occurred reports the information to:

  • a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services–licensed child care operation, including a residential child care operation;
  • a state-licensed facility or community center that provides services for mental health, intellectual disabilities, or related conditions;
  • an adult foster home (with three or fewer customers, which is not licensed by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS));
  • an unlicensed room-and-board facility;
  • a school; or
  • an individual's own home.

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Statewide Intake
P.O. Box 149030
Austin, Texas 78714-9030
Voice 1-800-252-5400
Fax 512-832-2090

Texas Abuse Hotline

a DADS-licensed entity, including:

  • assisted-living care facility;
  • nursing home;
  • adult day care;
  • private intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disability; or
  • adult foster care.

Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
Complaints Management & Investigations
P.O. Box 149030, Mail Code E-340
Austin, Texas 78714-9030

a Texas Department of State Health Services licensed substance-abuse facility or program

Texas Department of State Health Services
Substance Abuse Compliance Group
1100 W. 49th St.
Austin, Texas 78756
Mail Code 2823

a Texas Department of State Health Service–licensed hospital

Texas Department of State Health Services
Facility Licensing Group
1100 W. 49th St.
Austin, Texas 78756
Complaint Hotline
1-888- 973-0022

A-202-4: Allegations of Fraud or Employee Misconduct

TWC employees should contact the following to report suspected fraud, waste, and abuse of government resources, and TWC employee misconduct:

TWC Fraud Hotline: 1-800-252-3642

TWC website: Reporting Fraud in Programs - TWC

TWC mailing address:

Texas Workforce Commission
Attn: Office of Investigations
101 E. 15th St., Room 214T
Austin, Texas 78778-0001

See the TWC Personnel Manual, §1.14 - Reporting Fraud, Theft, Waste and Program Abuse for additional information.

Return to Top

A-203: Mediation

Any party in an appeal may request mediation. Mediation is a voluntary process in which an appellant and a VR representative may work with a trained mediator to try to resolve a dispute with VR about determinations that affect the appellant's VR services.

Participation in the mediation process is voluntary on the part of the customer and VR.

The mediation process cannot deny or delay:

  • the appellant's right to pursue resolution of the dispute through an impartial hearing held 60 days from receipt of the appellant's request for a due-process hearing; or
  • any other rights described in this chapter.

At any point during mediation, either party or the mediator may decide to end the mediation. When mediation is ended, either party may pursue resolution through an impartial hearing.

When the VR hearings coordinator receives a request for mediation, the hearings coordinator selects an individual from a list of qualified mediators who are knowledgeable about the laws and regulations concerning VR services.

Mediation sessions are scheduled and conducted in a timely manner, and can be held over the telephone, if that is the customer's preference, or in person. If an in-person hearing is conducted, the location is usually the VR regional or field office nearest the appellant's residence, or a place agreed to by both parties. Arrangements can be made to address the need for any accommodations.

Discussions that occur during the mediation process are kept confidential and are not used as evidence in any subsequent due-process hearing or civil proceedings. The parties to the mediation process may be required to sign a confidentiality pledge before the process begins.

Any agreement reached during the mediation must be in writing and signed by all parties. The agreement becomes a part of the customer's record.

VR pays the cost of a mediation session. However, VR does not pay for costs related to the appellant's representation by counsel or another advocate selected by the appellant.

Return to Top

A-204: Appeals and Hearings

An appeal, also known as a due-process hearing, provides the opportunity to:

  • resolve disputes about decisions concerning furnishing or denying services; and
  • submit additional evidence and information to an impartial hearing officer (IHO), who decides on the issues in dispute.

VR fairly and impartially addresses a customer's complaints about furnishing or denying services. To avoid an interruption of services, VR handles complaints promptly and at the lowest possible management level.

It is TWC's policy to explore all options in VR policy to resolve the complaint. This requires VR staff to address any complaint through an informal resolution process. However, if the VR counselor or his or her supervisor cannot resolve the complaint, the customer must be given the right to appeal.

This policy applies to customer appeals involving VR and Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind.

A-204-1: Notifying the Customer of the Appeals Process

VR provides a customer (or as appropriate, the customer's representative) written notice of:

  • the right to a review of VR determinations that affect the provision of services to the customer through an impartial due-process hearing as described in this chapter;
  • the right to pursue mediation with respect to VR determinations that affect the customer's VR services;
  • the address of OGC, with whom the customer may file a request for mediation or a due-process hearing;
  • the way a mediator or IHO may be selected consistent with the requirements of this chapter; and
  • the availability of the CAP to help the customer during a mediation session or due-process hearing.

The following decisions are subject to review by appeal:

  • denial, reduction, suspension, or termination of services;
  • the nature or content of the customer's IPE; or
  • the delivery or quality of vocational counseling services or other services provided by VR.

A-204-2: Timeliness of an Appeal

A customer who is not satisfied with a determination by VR must file the appeal within 180 days of the date on which VR made the determination. Otherwise, the appeal is not timely.

A-204-3: Time Limit for the Hearing

An IHO must conduct a hearing within 60 days of VR's receipt of a customer's request for a due-process hearing, unless the parties to the dispute:

  • achieve informal resolution or a mediation agreement before the sixtieth day; or
  • agree to a specific time extension, which must be:
    • in writing;
    • signed by the appellant; and
    • filed with OGC.

The IHO may grant reasonable time extensions for good cause at the request of either party.

A-204-4: Roles and Responsibilities in a Due-Process Hearing

The IHO's authority is limited to reviewing the appellant's dissatisfaction with the furnishing or denial of services by TWC-VR.

The IHO may not:

  • change TWC rules, policies, or procedures;
  • hear alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, or other federal laws;
  • hear or decide class actions; or
  • grant compensatory or monetary relief.

OGC provides administrative support to the IHO during the appeal process and is the point of contact for the appellant's questions about the due-process hearing.

The role of OGC depends on whether the appellant represents himself or herself or designates an attorney as a representative.

If the appellant represents himself or herself, or is represented by someone who is not an attorney, the role of OGC is primarily that of advisor to the VR representative. The VR representative prepares and presents the case. OGC provides all requested support to the VR representative.

Before the hearing, OGC is available to meet with the VR representative to discuss:

  • developing the issues;
  • gathering the evidence;
  • preparing witnesses; and
  • preparing exhibits.

If the appellant's representative is an attorney, OGC prepares and presents the case with the VR representative's help.

VR Representative

The VR representative is a VR deputy regional director or regional director.

If the appellant is not represented by an attorney, the VR representative:

  • has the authority to settle the dispute with the appellant;
  • prepares and presents the case;
  • represents VR at the due-process hearing;
  • fields all content calls; and
  • may request support from OGC.

If the appellant is represented by an attorney, the VR representative:

  • no longer has total responsibility for the due-process hearing;
  • supports counsel legal staff who are representing VR;
  • is the rehabilitation content and case file expert; and
  • helps counsel legal staff to reach a settlement.

The VR representative is the contact person for witnesses who are VR employees regarding the date, time, and location of the hearing and for any changes that occur.

The Appellant

The appellant is a customer who has filed an appeal and is the primary party to the hearing process. The purpose of the hearing is to resolve the issues that the appellant raised in the petition.

When the appellant does not have a representative, the appellant presents the case (for example, presents all the evidence and witness testimony) alone.

A Witness

A witness has:

  • personal knowledge of the facts; or
  • special knowledge (expert) of the alleged facts and issues.

A witness is usually prepared for testimony by the party's representative. An untrained witness may be asked to provide "impressions," and an expert is often asked to render an opinion based on a hypothetical question. All admissible witness testimony is entered into the record.

It is generally expected that the appellant's VR counselor is called as a witness.

A-204-5: Impact on Services

A pending appeal decision by a mediator or IHO does not suspend, reduce, or stop services being provided for an appellant, including evaluation and assessment services and plan development, unless the:

  • appellant or the appellant's representative requests it; or
  • services have been obtained through misrepresentation, fraud, collusion, or criminal conduct by the appellant or the appellant's representative.

If a customer completes a term of training or similar services before the appeal is resolved, and the next term has not yet begun, the training or services under appeal will not continue to be provided for the next term. Training or services not under appeal will not be suspended, reduced, or stopped.

A-204-6: Designating an Appellant's Representative

An appellant may represent himself or herself, or may designate someone to act as his or her representative by completing DARS1487, Designation of Applicant or Customer Representative. The representative may be an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, but he or she is not required to be an attorney.

The appellant's representative:

  • speaks for the appellant;
  • handles the hearing for the appellant; and
  • holds the same status in the appeals process as the:
    • VR representative; or
    • TWC's OGC attorney.

Once the appellant has designated a representative, the VR employee provides copies of all notices, pleadings, and other correspondence to the appellant's representative.

When the appellant's representative is an attorney, then:

  • an attorney-client privilege relationship exists; and
  • all communication with the appellant must occur through the appellant's representative.

The appellant's authorized representative remains the representative of record in the absence of a formal request to withdraw and an order approving the withdrawal issued by the IHO.

When the appellant or the appellant's representative communicates that a representative designation is no longer in effect, the VR representative:

  • stops communicating with the representative about the case;
  • documents the appellant's oral or written notice in a case note; and
  • asks the appellant to provide the request for revocation in writing, if applicable.

VR does not pay expenses for legal services or for witnesses requested by the appellant.

A-204-7: Client Assistance Program

In addition to providing information about the availability of a CAP during the IPE process, TWC-VR must provide this information in any determination provided to the customer. Information specific to the hearings process is also provided by the hearings coordinator. The required information for the appellant must include the address and telephone number of the nearest CAP office.

Other free legal services and referrals may be available through Texas Legal Services Center, Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans, or, depending on the customer's location:

A-204-8: Ex Parte Communications

Unless authorized by law, the VR representative or the appellant may not communicate directly or indirectly with the IHO about any issue of fact or law unless all parties may participate in the communication.

A-204-9: Witness Mileage and Fees

The party that requests the witness's appearance or deposition pays witness mileage and fees.

VR employees' expenses are paid by the office to which they are assigned.

Any witness who is not a VR employee and who is subpoenaed by TWC is entitled to:

  • mileage based on state travel rates for travel to and from the hearing or deposition, if the place is more than 25 miles from the individual's residence; and
    • a fee of at least $10 a day for each day or part of a day that the individual is required to be present; or
    • a fee equal to the per diem and travel allowances of a state employee, if an overnight stay is required.

A-204-10: Providing Reasonable Access

During the appeal process, VR provides reasonable access on request to the customer or other individuals with disabilities, as required by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, §101(a)(6)(B) and §504.

Hearings or proceedings are always held at a time and place that is reasonably accessible to the appellant and any witnesses and convenient for the parties.

During the appeal process, the IHO must require that VR provide, upon reasonable notice and request, and at VR's expense, special communication help, including translators, readers for blind or visually-impaired customers, and interpreters or communication access real-time translation (CART) for deaf and hard-of-hearing customers during proceedings.

For an appellant who is deaf and has sign language skills, VR uses certified interpreters when possible.

A VR employee may not serve as an interpreter during an appeal process.

An appellant who has a different hearing and/or speech impairment might need communication help such as:

  • special environmental arrangements; or
  • other communication technologies.

Technical assistance with interpreters and other communication alternatives may be obtained from the Texas Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.

A-204-11: Computing Time

In computing any period stated in these procedures, the VR representative:

  • does not include the date of the act, event, or default (the period begins on the next day); and
  • includes the last day of the period, unless it falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday (the period runs until the end of the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday).

Unless stated otherwise, the word "days" refers to calendar days.

A-204-12: Prehearing Procedure

Notification of Appeal

An appeal is made when the customer files a DARS1505, Request for Due Process Hearing and/or Mediation, with OGC. A customer may file an appeal when he or she disagrees with any determination affecting the provision of rehabilitation services.

Selection of the IHO

After receiving DARS1505, Request for Due Process Hearing and/or Mediation, OGC randomly selects an IHO from a pool of IHOs.

VR Representative

If the appellant is not represented by an attorney,

  • the deputy regional director prepares and presents the case; and
  • OGC provides all requested support to the deputy regional director.

If the appellant is represented by an attorney, the roles change. See "Roles and Responsibilities in a Due-Process Hearing," in this section for more information.

Action Before the Hearing

The IHO sets the date, time, and place for the hearing and notifies the parties. Hearings can be held over the telephone or in person. If an in-person hearing is conducted, the location is usually at the VR regional or field office nearest the appellant's residence, or a place agreed to by both parties. Arrangements can be made to address the need for any accommodations.

The IHO schedules a prehearing conference to acquaint all parties with the laws, regulations, and rules to be followed during the hearing. The prehearing conference also allows all parties to raise and address concerns about any relevant matter, including:

  • pending motions;
  • stipulations;
  • issues;
  • witnesses;
  • disclosures;
  • reasonable access; or
  • settings.

Names and addresses of witnesses must be filed before the hearing date set by the IHO.

The IHO may order that the parties be prepared to do the following at the prehearing conference:

  • Discuss the prospects of settlement and report on them at the prehearing conference;
  • File and discuss preliminary motions;
  • Specify the facts and legal issues in the case; and
  • State concisely the disputed facts and issues.

All the discovery, prehearing conference, and due-process hearing is electronically recorded. VR provides one copy of the recording at no cost to the appellant. There is a charge for additional copies or transcripts.


VR must provide to the appellant, or the appellant's representative, a copy of the appellant's case file without the appellant having to request it.

A party may request in writing that the other party:

  • provide the names of potential witnesses, including experts;
  • summarize the anticipated testimony of the witnesses;
  • state the issues as the party sees them and the factual basis for the issues; and
  • provide other information requested by the IHO.

A-204-13: Action During the Due-Process Hearing

The appellant and VR may:

  • offer into evidence any relevant information;
  • examine all material offered into evidence;
  • object to any evidence offered;
  • provide testimony;
  • call witnesses to testify; and
  • cross-examine witnesses.

Conduct of the Parties During the Hearing

The IHO maintains and enforces standards of conduct. Every party, witness, attorney, and representative must participate in all proceedings with professionalism, dignity, courtesy, and respect for all other parties.

The Order of Procedure at the Hearing

  1. The appellant may state:
    • the claim or defense;
    • what the appellant expects to prove; and
    • the relief sought.
  2. VR may make a similar statement.
  3. The IHO may allow others to make statements.
  4. The appellant introduces evidence.
  5. VR and any other parties may cross-examine each of the appellant's witnesses.
  6. Parties may redirect and re-cross-examine.
  7. Unless the statement has already been made, VR may state:
    • the claim or defense;
    • what VR expects to prove; and
    • the relief sought.
  8. VR introduces evidence, if any.
  9. The appellant and any other parties may cross-examine each of VR's witnesses.
  10. The parties then may present rebuttal evidence.
  11. The IHO may allow the parties to make their closing statements.

The IHO may deviate from this order of procedure in the interest of justice or to expedite the proceedings.

At the hearing, parties must provide four copies of each exhibit offered as evidence.

No evidence may be admitted that is irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious.

A-204-14: The Impartial Hearing Officer's Decision

The IHO renders a decision within 30 days after the hearing completion date.

A-204-15: Motion for Reconsideration

Either party to a hearing may file a motion for reconsideration with OGC within 20 days after the IHO issues a decision.

The motion for reconsideration must specify the matters in the IHO's decision that the party considers erroneous. The opposing party must file a response to the motion within 15 days of the date that the motion was served on the opposing party.

A-204-16: Final Decision

The IHO acts for VR, and the IHO's decision is final.

A-204-17: Civil Action or Judicial Review

Any party aggrieved by an IHO's final decision may bring a civil action for review of the decision. Without regard to the amount in controversy, the action may be brought in:

  • any state court of competent jurisdiction; or
  • a district court of the United States of competent jurisdiction.

In any such action, the court:

  • receives the records relating to the hearing;
  • hears additional evidence at the request of a party to the action;
  • bases a decision on the preponderance of the evidence; and
  • grants appropriate relief.

Exhausting all administrative remedies, including a motion for reconsideration, is a prerequisite to judicial review. A party seeking judicial review of the final VR decision must begin civil action no later than 30 days after the date of the final decision.

If a party brings a civil action to challenge an IHO's final decision, the IHO's final decision must be implemented, pending a court's review.

Return to Top

A-205: Subrogation

Subrogation is a process in which TWC recovers all or part of the costs of providing rehabilitation services when a customer:

  • was injured in an accident that was somebody else's fault; and
  • recovered monetary damages in a lawsuit or insurance settlement.

For procedures and information relevant to the VR counselor responsibilities, see the DARS3500, Subrogation Report, and its instruction page.

Return to Top

A-206: Confidentiality and Use of Customer Records and Information

This section applies to all customer records and information pertaining to individuals who apply for or receive services from VR.

A customer is anyone who applies for or receives VR services.

A customer representative is any individual chosen by an applicant or eligible individual, including a parent, guardian, other family member, or advocate. If a court has appointed a guardian or representative for an applicant or eligible individual, that person is the individual's representative.

The customer representative for a child who is less than 18 years old and not emancipated or married is the parent or court-appointed guardian. The parent is presumed to be the representative unless documentation is provided showing otherwise.

For VR to safeguard the customer's confidentiality, the customer or the customer's representative must provide documentation of representation to VR. The customer's representative has responsibilities related to the provision of VR services until VR is notified by the customer or the customer's representative that the person is no longer the representative.

A customer's representative must:

A court-appointed guardian or representative must provide current legal documentation of guardianship.

The paper case file for an emancipated or married minor child must include current legal documentation as proof of emancipation or marriage.

A-206-1: Procedures

The VR employee contacts OGC immediately, and notifies the immediate supervisor, when:

  • a customer, customer's representative, or lawyer requests that a TWC employee discuss a customer's case with a lawyer;
  • a lawyer, judge, magistrate, or clerk of court calls or writes TWC concerning a subpoena; or
  • the VR employee is served with a subpoena that requires a TWC employee to appear:
    • in court;
    • before an administrative proceeding; or
    • for a deposition.

The VR staff member sends a copy of the subpoena via email to open.records@twc.state.tx.us or fax to 512-463-2990. Responses to subpoena, court order, or summons are centrally coordinated through the OGC Open Records Section. Release of records is prohibited unless expressly approved by OGC. The VR staff member should contact OGC via email at open.records@twc.state.tx.us or call the VR Records Coordinator at 512-936-6355 for instructions in the following circumstances.

A-206-2: Obtaining Customer Information

Customer information usually is obtained from:

  • the customer;
  • another individual; and/or
  • various agencies and organizations.

To authorize release of customer information at the time of application, the applicant completes and signs the DARS5060, Permission to Collect Information.

A-206-3: Safeguarding Customer Records and Information

Employees are responsible for protecting the confidential nature of information in customer case files, in accordance with this policy, and for prohibiting unauthorized access to them.

Information is not to be disclosed directly or indirectly, other than in the administration of the rehabilitation programs, unless:

  • the consent of the client has been obtained in writing;
  • in compliance with a court order; or
  • in accordance with a federal or state law or regulation, as described in this chapter.

The confidential information that is protected includes all customer-identifying information contained in:

  • reports;
  • lists; and
  • other paper or electronic documents.

Specifically, this means any information that would identify an individual as being a VR customer.

Protected customer information includes information normally filed in a customer case file, such as:

  • applications, medical reports, IPE, and contact reports; and
  • any document held outside customer case records, such as Internal Audit reports, containing information that identifies a customer by name, Social Security number, or other means.

A customer's case files and materials scheduled for inclusion in the customer's folders are kept in a locked desk, filing cabinet, or other suitable locked container when VR employees are not present to ensure proper security.

All other information identifying the customer is kept in a locked VR building, office area, or room, when VR employees are not present to ensure proper security.

Good judgment must be exercised and reasonable precautions taken to ensure unauthorized individuals do not have access to confidential records. Employee violations of VR policy on protecting the confidential nature of customer records are grounds for appropriate disciplinary action.

All TWC employees must maintain a professional respect for the confidential nature of the data on individuals and refrain from indiscreet and/or casual conversation that might reveal to unauthorized individuals' information concerning VR customers.

A-206-4: Release of Customer Records and Information

Unless specifically authorized by OGC, confidential customer information is released only when:

  • authorized by the customer or customer's representative on a valid release;
  • responding to a valid subpoena or other legal process;
  • directly connected with the customer's rehabilitation; or
  • needed in certain investigative and emergency circumstances.

After an Open Records request has been completed by OGC and returned to the VR counselor, the VR counselor must complete DARS1514, Request from Open Records, certifying that the information was released per TWC policy. The form allows the VR counselor to identify information not provided to the requestor because it would be potentially harmful to the customer if released.

Release of Information Obtained from Other Governmental Agencies with Restrictions on Rerelease

When information is rereleased based on a valid release by the customer or the customer's representative, personal information in the file obtained from another governmental agency or governmental organization, either local, state, or federal, can be rereleased only by, or under the conditions established by the other agency or organization, and specified in the records.

Customers are required to sign DARS5061, Notice and Consent for Disclosure of Personal Information, during the application process. This form, when signed, is the customer's acknowledgment that personal information, by law, may be shared with other governmental entities.

It is possible that due to stringent controls, VR cannot release to the requestor the information obtained from the other agency or organization but must refer the requestor to the source to obtain the information. OGC determines when information of this type is needed to respond to a request in a court order, subpoena, or is needed for other purposes described in this chapter.

Release of Customer Criminal History Records Obtained from the Department of Public Safety

Occupations requiring a license permit or other credential may include a criminal background check (CBC) as part of the credentialing process.

If a customer wants to work in an occupation or participate in a training program requiring a license, permit, or other type of credentialing, the VR counselor should explain to the customer why the CBC is necessary and document in a case note the reasons for obtaining the CBC, along with a summary of the discussion with the customer.

Requests for the CBC can be submitted only on cases determined eligible or that are in active status. Criminal history cannot be considered part of the eligibility determination process, only as part of the employment planning occurring during the comprehensive assessment and plan development process or when in active status.

To request a CBC on a customer, the VR counselor completes DARS1510, Request for Consumer Criminal Background Check, and sends it by email to the regional point of contact. The CBC requested by VR covers offenses that occurred in Texas.

The CBC report is critical to the decision-making process. A VR counselor should not approve a vocational goal for any occupation requiring a license that the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) has determined would be prohibited to individuals with criminal backgrounds. The VR counselor should discuss other vocational goals with the customer if the customer has a criminal history that precludes a licensed profession. If an occupation requires a license not issued by TDLR, the VR counselor must contact the appropriate licensing entity to determine if it is feasible for the customer to be licensed.

The steps below must be followed by the VR counselor in documenting a CBC:

  1. Enter a case note reflecting the guidance and counseling offered to the customer about his or her selection of vocational goal and the need for a CBC before agreement on the IPE.
  2. Enter in ReHabWorks (RHW) a case note with the subject "CBC" confirming that a CBC was requested using the procedure indicated and why it was requested.
  3. When the CBC has been discussed with the customer, document how the results of the CBC will affect the selection of the vocational goal. Do not cut and paste or list the specific details (that is, the dates and types of convictions) obtained from the CBC in a case note.
  4. Additional case notes must be entered every time the sealed CBC is opened for review. The case note must document the date that the CBC was rereviewed, by whom, and for what purpose.

VR receives customer criminal history records from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) on the assurance that the records will:

  • be used for rehabilitation purposes only; and
  • not be further released by VR to another organization or individual, including the customer or customer's representative, unless there is a valid release or written request from the customer or a valid court order.

Except for requests contained in valid subpoenas after the release is approved by OGC or other court orders or for a written request from a customer, the VR counselor does not honor any requests for such records and does not release the documents obtained from DPS outside of VR

Based on Government Code §411.085(a)(2).

Release of Information Obtained from Disability Determination Services

VR releases customer information in the customer's case record that was obtained from Disability Determination Services in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

Release of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records

Customer "alcohol and drug abuse patient records" means any records in a customer's file provided to VR from an outside source and accompanied by the following written statement, attached by the source providing the records:

"This information has been disclosed to you from records protected by Federal Confidentiality rules (42 CFR 2). The Federal rules prohibit you from making any further disclosure of this information unless further disclosure is expressly permitted by the written consent of the person to whom it pertains or as otherwise permitted by 42 CFR 2. A general authorization for the release of medical or other information is NOT sufficient for this purpose. The Federal rules restrict any use of the information to criminally investigate or prosecute any alcohol or drug abuse patient."

Alcohol and drug abuse patient records do not include records such as psychological reports or medical records, which are not accompanied by a cover sheet or other attached document containing the statement quoted above.

Labeling and Maintaining Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records

Any time a customer's alcohol and drug abuse patient records are released, this same restrictive statement must be printed on a cover sheet and attached to the records. If the statement attached by the source providing the records to TWC was on a cover sheet, a copy of that same cover sheet may be used by VR. Otherwise, the VR counselor prints the restrictive statement on a new cover sheet and attaches it to the records.

Based on 42 CFR 2.32.

Alcohol and drug abuse patient records may not be maintained in customer files unless the file contains a properly signed DARS5061, Notice and Consent for Disclosure of Personal Information.

Release to Customer-Appointed Representative

Although the most common way of releasing customer information to family members and friends is using a valid release signed by the customer, occasionally information is released to an individual in his or her capacity as the customer's appointed representative. If information is to be released to an individual in his or her capacity as the customer's own representative, the customer must have appointed the representative by:

The VR counselor files in the customer's case file the:

  • DARS1487;
  • power of attorney; or
  • the customer's own form designating a representative.

Disclosing or Obtaining Educational and Noneducational Records

Juvenile Service Provider

TWC discloses records to a juvenile service provider (JSP) to prevent the duplication of services and to improve the quality of services for certain juvenile customers. "Juvenile service provider" means a governmental entity that provides juvenile justice or prevention, medical, educational, or other support services to a juvenile. (Texas Family Code §58.0051(2))

Educational Records

VR has the authority to obtain educational records from an independent school district or a charter school for a student who has been taken into custody or referred to a juvenile court. VR is required to certify in writing that the information will be disclosed only to another JSP to verify the identity of the student and to provide delinquency or treatment services. VR is required to provide a DARS5060, Permission to Collect Information, to a JSP when requesting educational records.

Noneducational Records

VR is required to disclose to a JSP a multisystem youth's personal health information or history of governmental services for the purposes of identifying the youth and to coordinate, monitor, and improve the quality of juvenile services.

Personal health information or a history of governmental services include the multisystem youth's:

  • identity;
  • medical records;
  • assessment results;
  • special needs;
  • program placement; and
  • psychological diagnoses.

TWC may charge a fee or may be required to pay a fee for records in accordance with the Texas Public Information Act unless an agreement with the JSP:

  • prohibits the payment of a fee;
  • provides for the waiver of a fee; or
  • provides an alternate method of assessing a fee.

"CONFIDENTIAL" Markings on Released Customer Records

Any customer records released must have a "CONFIDENTIAL" stamp imprint on each file, assuring that the information will:

  • be safeguarded;
  • be used only for the purpose provided; and
  • not be released to unauthorized individuals.

Exception: If more than 10 pages are released, the pages may be stapled together with the stamp imprint on a cover page or, if appropriate, the VR counselor uses:

Valid Release Authorized by the Customer or a Representative

When the customer or his or her representative submits a valid release, that is, a properly completed written request for information, the VR counselor must provide in a timely manner the information requested from the customer's case file. The following are valid releases and are accepted by VR:

  • A properly completed DARS1517-2, Authorization for Release of Confidential Customer Records and Information;
  • Social Security Administration (SSA) Form SSA-827, Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration (SSA), version dated February 2003 or later (versions of Form SSA-827 dated before February 2003 are not valid and must not be honored); or
  • An authorization or form provided by the customer, which, after evaluation on a case-by-case basis, has been found to meet the criteria set forth below.

To qualify as a valid release, a customer's authorization form must:

  • be in writing (either handwritten or typed);
  • identify the records or other information to be released;
  • be signed by the customer or a representative;
  • be dated;
  • identify the individual (as appropriate, by name, telephone number, address) or entity to whom VR is authorized to release the information; and
  • be specifically directed to VR (Exception: Release forms that are not addressed, or releases addressed "To Whom It May Concern" or "To Custodian of Records," are valid if they identify the records to be released as VR records).

Examples of Invalid Releases

General release forms, not addressed to VR and not identifying the records to be released as VR records, are not valid.

Example: "I authorize any organization having any records concerning me to release those records to..."

When the customer's own form authorizes individuals or organizations that are not part of VR to release the information, the release is not valid, and VR cannot honor the request.

Example: "I authorize all doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers who have treated me to release..."

Only the records that are identified in the request may be released.

Example: "I request release of my medical records" is valid for releasing copies of medical records but not valid for release of rehabilitation records or other records in the customer's file.


In responding to requests submitted on a valid release, the VR counselor may not release the following:

  • Information obtained from other governmental agencies with restrictions on rerelease
  • Customer criminal history records obtained from the DPS to anyone other than to the customer or the customer's representative
  • Information that may be harmful to the customer, which may be released to the customer only through the customer's designated representative. (Information delivered directly to the customer's representative or a third party is releasable without regard to this restriction.) This exception does not apply to Form SSA-827 request because the information is not released directly to the customer
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) test results, unless the authorization specifically states that HIV test results may be released.

Release to Guardian or Another Court-Appointed Representative

When a guardian or court-appointed representative of the customer asserts entitlement to receive customer information without the customer's consent, before releasing any information, the VR counselor:

  • obtains from the individual a certified copy of a court-issued letter of guardianship;
  • files the letter or other appointment letter in the customer's case file; and
  • ensures that the appointed representative completes and provides to TWC a valid release.

This applies only to adults who have been specifically identified by the court to be the customer's representative.

Release to a Customer's Relative

Unless the customer's relative is the customer's authorized representative, a customer's relative may not receive the customer's records without an explicit, written, and signed authorization on a valid release by the customer or the customer's representative.

When one of the following applies, the VR counselor ensures that the relative properly completes a valid release, before releasing the information:

  • The customer is a minor, and the customer's parent is the authorized representative.
  • There is a judicial finding of the customer's incompetence, and a relative of the customer, who also is the customer's legal guardian, is the authorized representative.
  • A relative appointed by the court, also named as the customer's guardian, is the customer's representative.

Release to Individuals Accompanying a Customer to a Counseling Session

When a spouse, minor child, or another individual accompanies a customer or applicant to a counseling session, unless the individual is the customer's authorized representative, a VR employee must ensure that:

Release of HIV Test Results

VR staff members must not reveal HIV test results to anyone, including the customer, without the customer's explicit, written, and signed authorization on a valid release. The valid release must specifically authorize the release of HIV test results.

The confidentiality of customer HIV test results is strictly regulated under Health and Safety Code §85.115 and 40 TAC §101.117.

Release of Information Potentially Harmful to the Customer

Medical, psychological, or other information that the VR counselor (or if there is no current VR counselor, the area manager or area manager's designee) believes could be potentially harmful if released to a customer must not be released directly to the customer.

Information considered potentially harmful must be released to the customer through a third party chosen by the individual, designated by an explicit, written consent form signed by the customer using either:

A third party chosen by the individual may include, among others:

  • a family member;
  • an advocate;
  • a qualified mental health professional; or
  • a medical professional.

Third parties chosen by individuals are expected to use appropriate professionals, as needed, to discuss potentially harmful information with the customer.

If the customer chooses to designate an individual already named to represent him or her before VR on one of the forms for designating a representative, then, as an exception, the additional consent form described here is not required.

When psychological or psychiatric records are stamped as "not to be shared with the customer," the VR counselor should refer the customer to the psychologist or psychiatrist limiting the distribution of the document.

Release to the Client Assistance Program

A customer may designate the CAP to be the third party chosen by the individual for receiving potentially harmful information.

When releasing records containing mental health information to the CAP, the VR counselor:

  • obtains the customer's or court-appointed representative's signature on a valid release; and
  • in the description of released records, specifically states that records related to mental health or an intellectual disability are being requested.

Release to a Designated Mental Health Professional

Psychological information that the counselor believes could be harmful if released to the customer may be released to a licensed psychologist whom the customer has designated as the third party chosen by the individual.

Release to a Designated Medical Professional

When the potentially harmful information is related to a medical condition, the representative may be a physician skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of the disorder, among others.

Consultation to Review Potentially Harmful Information

When comparable services and benefits are not available, TWC can pay for a single-visit consultation (in accordance with a medical access program) with a physician or psychologist, to review potentially harmful information with the customer.

Based on 34 CFR 361.38(c)(2).

Charging for Copies of Customer Records

VR may charge for copies of customer records. For guidance, see the TWC Open Records Unit Manual.

Release for a Purpose Directly Connected with the Administration of the Customer's VR Program

The scope of the customer's rehabilitation is determined by the provisions of the customer's IPE.

Releasing customer information for a purpose directly connected with the customer's rehabilitation usually poses no problem. This release does not legally require express or written customer consent. At application, the customer signed DARS5060, Permission to Collect Information.

When it is difficult to ascertain whether the purpose of the release is "directly connected with the customer's rehabilitation program," the VR counselor obtains the customer's written authorization on a valid release to provide information to an organization or individual.

Based on 34 CFR 361.38(b).

Release to an Employer or Prospective Employer

The VR counselor may provide to an employer or prospective employer customer information that the VR counselor considers relevant and appropriate for achieving the customer's employment goals. However, the VR counselor must not divulge any information concerning the customer's disability without the customer's permission to do so.

Additionally, the VR counselor obtains a valid release from the customer to release the information:

  • when it is difficult to ascertain whether the information is relevant and appropriate to the customer's employment goals;
  • before releasing information contained in customer criminal history records obtained from DPS;
  • before releasing alcohol and/or drug abuse patient records; and
  • before releasing HIV test results.

Release to Another Agency or Organization for Its Program Purposes

Unless the customer information requested by another agency or organization is for a purpose directly connected with the customer's rehabilitation program, the information may be released to another agency or organization for its own program purposes only with specific written customer authorization.

The VR counselor uses DARS1516, Notice for Release of Confidential Records for Audit, Research, Evaluation, or Other Program Purposes, and obtains a valid release from the customer.

After receiving a valid release containing the customer's authorization, the VR counselor enters an X in the appropriate checkboxes, signs, and attaches a copy of DARS1516 as a cover sheet to the released documents. Individual documents are stamped as explained above.

Release to Law Enforcement and Certain Other Agencies

VR releases, with or without written consent, customer information in response to requests involving law enforcement, including official investigations concerning:

  • national security violations;
  • tax fraud;
  • apprehension related to illegal immigration; and
  • public assistance fraud.

VR also releases relevant customer information to an authorized state agency and other organizations for reports and investigations required by state law concerning:

  • child support enforcement (see public law 93-647);
  • child abuse; and
  • abuse, exploitation, or neglect of the elderly or disabled.

Under Chapter 614 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, VR must disclose information about a customer when the disclosure supports a program under the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments, and the customer:

  • has criminal charges pending;
  • has been convicted or adjudicated; or
  • is in custody or under any form of criminal justice supervision.

These circumstances require TWC to provide the customer's:

  • identity;
  • needs, treatment, social, criminal, and vocational history;
  • status of and compliance with supervision by a criminal justice agency; and
  • mental and medical health history.

Except for emergency situations, or as required by law, the request must be:

  • in writing;
  • signed by an appropriate official, stating that the information is required for:
    • an official investigation in connection with the above subjects; or
    • a program under the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments; and
    • the specific information required from the customer's record.

When releasing information to a governmental law enforcement agency, the VR counselor attaches a copy of the request and DARS1515, Notice for Release of Confidential Records Pursuant to Legal Process or Investigation, with the second checkbox selected, as a cover sheet to advise the agency of the confidential nature of the documents.

The VR counselor contacts OGC for advice on all requests from law enforcement or other agencies.

Release to Other Individuals or Organizations in Emergency Situations

Emergency situations are those that pose a threat to the safety of the customer or others. The VR counselor releases only the information necessary to protect the customer or others. A written request is not required if time is of the essence to meet the threat, but the VR counselor or employee providing the information must carefully record all the facts and circumstances in the customer's case file.

The VR counselor contacts OGC for advice on all requests in emergency situations.

Release of Information to Members of Congress, the Texas Legislature, and Other Elected Officials

Customer information is released in accordance with federal and state laws, when requested by members of the US Congress, the Texas legislature, and other elected officials.

Upon receiving such a request, the VR counselor must forward the pertinent information to:

Then, the VR counselor:

  • determines whether the appropriate release has been obtained; and
  • notifies the customer in the event that a valid release is required.

A letter signed by a customer and delivered to a member of the legislature or other elected official requesting assistance is a sufficient authorization to release information. However, if the customer's records contain alcohol and drug abuse patient records or HIV test results, the customer must provide TWC with a valid release, and must specifically authorize the release of alcohol and drug abuse patient records or HIV test results. In other instances, if consent cannot be obtained, the VR counselor contacts OGC for advice.

VR staff members must not reveal HIV test results to anyone, including the customer, without the customer's explicit, written, and signed authorization on a valid release.

State law prohibits release by VR of criminal history record information documents received from the DPS to members of US Congress, the Texas legislature, or other elected officials. Requesters should be referred to DPS to obtain these records.

Based on Government Code §411.085(a)(2).

Release to an Organization or Individual for Audit, Research, or Evaluation

Under certain circumstances, VR may be authorized to release personal information to an organization, agency, or individual engaged in an audit, evaluation, or research for purposes that would significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.

When such a request is received, the VR counselor contacts OGC to determine whether VR is authorized to provide the information and to obtain the documentation that must be signed by the recipient when such information is released.

Based on 34 CFR 361.38(d).

Release of Customer Records Pursuant to a Subpoena

TWC releases customer information to a federal or state court, an administrative hearing officer, or a judge when presented with a subpoena, a court order, or a summons. Valid subpoenas are binding upon TWC, with or without the customer's consent.

If the employee receives a subpoena, the VR counselor immediately contacts OGC directly. The employee notifies his or her immediate supervisor if he or she receives any subpoena, court order, or other summons.

Return to Top

A-207: Incident Reporting and Documentation

A-207-1: Procedure

When a VR employee or other reliable source is aware of or observes behavior that could pose a threat to other VR employees or to providers, it is important to capture the information as specifically and factually as possible by creating a case note in the customer's case file.

A VR employee creates a case note:

  • if at any time during the rehabilitation process a customer verbally or physically threatens someone; or
  • if the customer has a recent history of actual or threatened physical abuse.

The employee enters the case note in RHW, under the topic Requires Special Attention.

A case note must include as much information as possible about the incident, including:

  • the date;
  • the location;
  • the names and addresses of witnesses and the people involved;
  • what was said or done; and
  • the names of those willing to testify.

The employee reports any incident affecting the security of a VR employee or division property to VR management and, if appropriate, to the local law enforcement authority. The employee places a copy of the police report in the paper file if the police were involved.

When other VR employees refer to the customer's online case record, the case note alerts them to use caution when working with the customer. Additional case notes must be entered as needed to maintain an accurate record of potential risks or of changes to the circumstances.

Although it is important to alert others to potential risk, VR employees must exercise extreme care in using a case note titled "Requires Special Attention" to avoid unnecessarily labeling a customer.

A-207-2: Additional Information

TWC supports a safe and secure environment for employees, customers, clients, and visitors conducting business at all TWC locations. TWC has a system in place to ensure that employees report incidents as required by TWC policy.

Examples of incidents include, but are not limited to:

  • workplace violence, including domestic violence situations in which the abuser seeks out the victim at work;
  • automobile accident involving a state vehicle;
  • automobile accident involving a personal vehicle used to conduct official state business;
  • physical or sexual assault;
  • serious medical emergency, death, or suicide;
  • threat of harm to one's self or others;
  • terrorist event or civil unrest;
  • breach of information systems;
  • theft or loss of personal or state property;
  • mischievous or malicious destruction of state property;
  • fire or hazardous materials event;
  • service interruption that is due to an emergency or disaster;
  • threat by personal contact, letter, phone, or email;
  • intentional business interruption, including false alarms or bomb threats;
  • suspicious package or material received by mail or discovered in the workplace; and
  • a business disruption that results in activating partial or full continuity of operations activities (assigning staff members to work remotely or securing alternate facilities).

All incidents must be reported immediately as outlined in this policy and the TWC Personnel Manual.

TWC employees are also subject to state reporting requirements and must:

  • know and understand the policy and procedures outlined in this chapter for incident reporting;
  • inform their manager or supervisor of any situation described in this policy;
  • contact law enforcement or first responders if the incident involves a threat to health or safety;
  • follow the procedures in this policy to report incidents, injuries, and automobile accidents; and
  • submit copies of all reports to Risk and Security Management (RSM) through the Incident Reports - RSM mailbox.

Local office managers and supervisors:

  • ensure that employees know and follow the policy and procedures outlined in this policy for incident reporting;
  • know and understand their role in implementing the procedures outlined in this policy;
  • inform the appropriate regional program support specialist (RPSS) of incidents;
  • follow the procedures to report incidents, injuries, and automobile accidents; and
  • submit copies of all reports to the Incident Reports - RSM mailbox.

Headquarters managers and supervisors:

  • ensure that employees know and follow the policy and procedures outlined in this policy for incident reporting;
  • know and understand their role in implementing the procedures outlined in this policy;
  • follow the procedures in this policy to report incidents, injuries, and automobile accidents; and
  • submit copies of all reports to the Incident Reports - RSM mailbox.

Regional program support specialists:

  • know and understand their role in implementing the procedures outlined in this policy;
  • support local office employees who have questions about incidents;
  • follow the procedures in this policy to report incidents that occur in regional locations to the RSM staff;
  • review incident reports submitted and forward the reports to the Incident Reports - RSM mailbox;
  • participate as subject matter experts for their region in meetings, as appropriate;
  • coordinate responses from TWC;
  • provide updates to the incident commander, as appropriate;
  • coordinate with appropriate program managers to ensure continuation of services; and
  • act as incident commanders for multiunit incidents in their region.

To report an incident at a local office:

  • the employee, manager, or supervisor contacts professional first responders (911) if the incident is an immediate threat to health or safety of individuals or property;
  • the employee, manager, or supervisor notifies the RPSS of the incident by telephone;
  • the employee notifies a manager or supervisor of the incident; and
  • the employee, supervisor, or manager fills out form RSM 4740 on the same day or within 48 hours of the incident and forwards it by email to:

If injuries are sustained by employees and nonemployees in conjunction with an incident, the employee must also follow the procedures outlined in the TWC Personnel Manual (Word).

Note: A manager or supervisor completes this step for nonemployees and for employees who are unable to self-report.

A-207-3: Security Breaches of Confidential Information

TWC defines a confidential information incident as a loss of control, a compromise, an unauthorized disclosure, an unauthorized acquisition, unauthorized access, or any similar situations in which individuals other than authorized users have, for an unauthorized purpose, access or potential access to confidential information, whether physical or electronic. The term "confidential information incident" encompasses suspected and confirmed incidents or breaches, whether intentional or inadvertent, involving confidential information, that raise a reasonable risk of harm.

To report a known or suspected breach of confidential information, the employee follows the procedures in the TWC Personnel Manual (Word) or on the TWC Privacy Governance page.


Upon discovery of a known or suspected breach, the staff member secures any loose papers or electronic devices in a locked drawer or cabinet. If the breach is discovered on the network or in an email, the staff member notes the location or method of access or receipt.

The employee reports the incident to his or her supervisor or, if the supervisor is unavailable or if there is a potential conflict of interest, reports the incident to his or her local privacy liaison or regional program support director.

To report the incident to TWC's Privacy Office or chief information security officer, the employee uses TWC's Open FISMA site regarding compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act.

The staff member clicks the "Report a Security Incident" button, then selects Yes for the question "Was PII Involved?" He or she makes at least one entry on each page and then clicks "Submit."

The staff member is aware of common mistakes so that his or her response to a privacy incident does not constitute another incident:

The employee does not forward or reply with compromised information (for example, information such as a Social Security number, full name, or birth date) when reporting.

When the compromised information is needed by the staff member's supervisor for TWC's Privacy Office or chief information security officer to respond to an incident, the staff member will be given instructions on whether the compromised information needs to be forwarded to officials at TWC and how to secure it properly.

A-207-4: Injuries Unrelated to an Incident

To report injuries sustained during routine business activities by employees and nonemployees, the employee follows the procedures outlined in the TWC Personnel Manual (Word).

Return to Top