New Jersey State Policies & Resources
New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Policy on Summary Self-Employment:
New Jersey DVRS provides services to “eligible consumers whose vocational goal is self-employment.” Individuals who have ownership in their business and are involved in its daily operations are considered self-employed. DVRS notes that small business ownership is difficult and suggests that consumers with specific skills and personality traits are more likely to succeed at self-employment than individuals without those qualities.
A consumer interested in self-employment must undergo an assessment conducted by a VR Counselor; the consumer’s business idea is also assessed. During the assessment, the VR Counselor uses a Business Assessment Scale to determine whether self-employment is an
appropriate vocational goal for the consumer. When completing the Business Assessment Scale, the VR Counselor examines a variety of factors related to the consumer’s capacity for self-employment. These include the individual’s motivation to work, their ability to fulfill
requests, and their persistence. The consumer’s ability to learn and perform relevant management tasks – keeping an inventory, maintaining business records, paying taxes – is also evaluated.
Once the Business Assessment Scale has been completed by the VR Counselor and at least one other DVRS staff member, the results are sent to the DVRS Central Office contact person for self-employment programs. This contact can also assist the VR Counselor at any point during the assessment process.
Consumers seeking DVRS support must also complete a business plan. The business plan must contain an executive summary, a description of the products or services offered, a marketing analysis and strategy, and a financial plan that includes profit and loss projections, cash flow projections, balance sheet projections, a break-even analysis, and a benefits analysis. Before the individual can receive DVRS funding, the business plan must be sent to the DVRS Central Office for review.
DVRS offers eligible consumers funding to assist with business start-up costs. DVRS funding may cover the cost of adaptive equipment necessary for business operations, advertising, and initial insurance premiums. Other start-up expenses, such as the purchase of tools, equipment, and similar supplies, can only be funded during the first six months in which the business is established. Consumers are encouraged to seek outside funding for costs that exceed what DVRS will provide. These additional funds can come from personal savings, family members, loans or grants, the NJ Community Loan Fund, etc. DVRS can assist consumers with loan and grant applications as needed. If a consumer’s projected start-up costs exceed what DVRS will fund, the VR Counselor must have a guarantee that the consumer can cover their remaining expenses; DVRS funds are withheld until this condition is met. DVRS only funds expenses deemed essential to business operations, and it does not fund long-term operating costs or multi-level marketing businesses. The maximum amount of DVRS funding a consumer can receive for a self-employment goal is $10,000.
Case closure is determined by the VR Counselor’s assessment of the business following its establishment. The evaluation section of the consumer’s Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) should include a follow-up schedule, and the VR Counselor should visit and evaluate the business in accordance with that schedule until the case is closed with DVRS.
New Jersey Policy
New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Commission)
Policy Summary on Self-Employment:
The New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Commission) supports self-employment for individuals who are eligible. The Commission uses five criteria to determine eligibility:
- The person must indicate a commitment to run his/her business and devote the necessary time to increase the likelihood of success;
- The proposed business must be appropriate to the person’s physical and mental condition;
- The person must demonstrate the ability to acquire the basic business management skills;
- The person must have at least two years of experience in the type of business or related experience;
- A comprehensive business plan must be developed and evaluated.
The Commission can fund start-up costs which are defined as one-time expenditures such as purchasing licenses, initial stock, supplies, services, equipment and related expenses. It can also fund adaptive equipment which are not considered a start-up cost. However, they must be justified through an assessment. No funds can be used for long-term operational costs.
Each person is expected to use his/her own resources to partially fund the venture.
$15,001.00 and higher
Variations from the required contributions must be approved by the Standing Self-Employment Committee.
Technical assistance may be provided after financing has been put into place and until the business is operational. Commission staff may visit the business for one year after it is established.
There is no mention of supported self-employment.
The following downloadable PDF contains statewide self-employment resources and links for people with disabilities.