State Policies

South Dakota State Policies & Resources


South Dakota Department of Human Services

Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS)

Division of Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired (DSBVI)

Policy Summary on Self-Employment:

*The self-employment policy is the same for both the South Dakota Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and the South Dakota Division of Service for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DSBVI). 

DRS and DSBVI define self-employment as: “The consumer owns, manages and operates a business selling goods or services for the purpose of making a profit. Self-employment ranges from sole proprietorships and independent contractors to multi-employee companies and independent franchise operations.”  The primary role of the Counselor is to provide technical assistance and resource identification. Areas of assistance include assessment of business potential, business plan assistance, needed training to be successful, limited financial resources for start-up costs and follow-up once the business plan is approved.

The self-employment process begins with a thorough discussion of the pros and cons of self-employment, followed by a comprehensive assessment to evaluate the individual’s: unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests and informed choice; potential to implement and sustain a successful business venture; management and technical skills; and financial resources and history. The Counselor also assesses the individual’s commitment to the business and the potential market demand. Next, the individual conducts a feasibility study to assess the feasibility of the business concept. Technical assistance from resources such as SCORE, Small Business Development Centers or internet resources are available as needed.

If the business concept proves feasible, the next step is to write the comprehensive business plan. Again, outside technical assistance resources are identified for the individual as needed. The business plan consists of an executive summary, marketing plan, industry analysis, detailed evaluation of the projected customer base, market projections, competitor analysis, management team, financial projections, and a list of products and services.  The Divisions provide an outline with suggested content

The Counselor completes the Business Assessment Scale (BAS) to further assess the individual’s potential and to review and identify areas of improvement for the business plan. The Counselor reviews the plan to determine the potential VR funding contributions.

Typically, the Divisions cannot be the sole funding source of the ventures so other funding resources are identified.  DVR/DSBVI funding can be used for assessment, training expenses, partial start-up expenses, support services and other disability-related expenses. A small business is defined by the Divisions as any approved business plan under $100,000.00 Their funds can be used for start-up expenses including occupational licenses, tools and equipment, and initial stocks and supplies. Initial stocks and supplies are limited to no more than three months. 

Counselors can approve funding requests under $5,000. Business plans requesting more than $5,000 can receive 100% of the first $5,000 and 10% of all costs above $5,000.The  funding limit is $14,500 and any individual seeking self-employment funding in excess of this limit must receive official state approval.

The final business plan is usually reviewed by the Counselor and District Supervisor; however, there may be times when input from outside sources is required. If the plan is approved, the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) is developed outlining the participation of the Divisions as well as comparable benefits. The plan may also support any necessary training or education the individual needs to be successful.   

Successful case closure is determined on an individualized basis, especially around minimum wage.  The policy notes that Counselor judgment and Central Office technical assistance will be used to determine outcome success.  It also notes that at times there may be extenuating circumstances that may warrant special considerations.  With documented justifications of these circumstances they can be approved by the State Office.

While supported self-employment is not specifically mentioned, the policy does note that some individuals may need on-going support to be successful in their business venture.  Although the Divisions cannot fund services after a successful closure, the Counselor can help the individual identify and secure the needed on-going services.

Self-Employment Policy PDF


The following downloadable PDF contains statewide self-employment resources and links for people with disabilities.

South Dakota Self-Employment Resources (PDF)

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