Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS)

DARS provides services to Texans who are disabled and to families with children who have developmental delays. DARS is made up of all the programs from the Texas Rehabilitation Commission (TRC), the Texas Commission for the Blind (TCB), the Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TDHCC), and the Interagency Council on Early Childhood Intervention (ECI).

DARS Main Contact Information
Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services
4800 N. Lamar Blvd., 3rd Floor
Austin, Texas 78756

Phone: (512) 377-0500
Website: www.dars.state.tx.us

Useful DARS Hotlines and Information Numbers

Name Number
Disability Determination Services
at the Social Security Administration
1-800-772-1213,
7am-7pm, M-F. Social Security
Administration staff begin a disability
application and pay out federal benefits.
DARS Client Information Line 1-800-628-5115,
8am-5pm, M-F

For more information about DARS programs, click on the programs below:

Disability Determination Services

The Social Security Administration has a disability program that helps people who are disabled. In Texas, Disability Determination Services at DARS makes disability determination decisions for this federal program.

For Social Security purposes, disability means:

  • A person cannot be working and must be unable to do any work, or for a child, be unable to engage in age-appropriate activities.
  • A medical condition must be the reason why a person cannot work, and the mental or physical condition must be documented by objective medical evidence.
  • The condition must be so severe that it will last at least 12 months or result in death.

The Social Security Administration administers two disability programs which help people who are unable to work because of severe physical or mental impairments. They are designed to replace part of the income you and your family lose if you become disabled.

The first part of this program is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). It is related to work. A person earns coverage for themselves and family members by paying Social Security tax. The program covers workers who are disabled, disabled widows/widowers and disabled adult children of workers.

The second part of the disability program is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It is related to means — what you have or own. If you do not own much or have much income, you may be able to qualify for this part. This program covers adults and children who are eligible.

Federal law and the Social Security Administration provide the instructions used to determine whether a person is disabled. The Social Security Administration uses a specific definition of disability which is related to the ability to work. It requires total disability and is somewhat stricter than definitions of other programs.

Application Contact Information 
Texans with disabilities can contact the Social Security Teleservice Center at (800) 772-1213 OR the local Social Security field office. The field office phone number can be found in the blue pages under “Government Offices - United States - Social Security Administration.” You will be asked to complete forms about your condition. Staff at the Social Security office will be able to help you with these.

If have already applied and you think your case is pending in Disability Determination Services, contact the DARS Disability Examiner at (800) 252-7009, 7:30am-5pm, M-F. If your case is no longer there, contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 for information about what benefits you are eligible for.

For more information, click here.
To apply online, click here.

Rehabilitation Services

For general information about and overview of Rehabilitation Services, click here or call 1-800-628-5115, 8am-5pm M-F.

Vocational Rehabilitation 
The Vocational Rehabilitation Program helps people who have physical or mental disabilities prepare for, find or keep employment. DARS Vocational Rehabilitation services also contribute to the support of people with disabilities in the community as well as support their movement from nursing homes and institutions to community-based settings.

A person may be eligible for this program if the person has a disability that results in substantial problems in obtaining employment; vocational rehabilitation services are required by that person to prepare for, get or keep a job; and the person is able to get or keep a job after receiving services.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program serves people with a wide variety of disabilities, including mental illness; hearing impairment; impaired functioning of arms or legs; back injury; alcoholism or drug addiction; mental retardation; learning disability; traumatic brain injury; or other physical or mental disabilities that prevent the person from finding and keeping a job. Services are based on individual needs and may include: Evaluation; Assistance with setting goals; Training; Communication equipment or assistance for the deaf and hearing impaired; Medical treatment related to the disability; Assistive devices; and Job placement assistance.

For more information, click here.
For a guide for applicants, click here.

Independent Living Services and Centers 
DARS Independent Living Services provides assistance to help people with disabilities confront barriers and achieve lives of personal satisfaction and independence. Rehabilitation counselors can help people with disabilities move beyond all kinds of barriers, both at home and in the community.

DARS works very closely with Centers for Independent Living in locations that have a center. Independent Living Services contribute to the support of people with disabilities in the community as well as support their movement from nursing homes and institutions to community-based settings.

To be eligible for the Independent Living Services program, a person must be certified by a state rehabilitation counselor as having a significant disability that results in a substantial impediment to their ability to function independently in the family and/or in the community and there must be a reasonable expectation that Independent Living Services assistance will result in the ability to function more independently.

Services provided in the this program may include: Counseling and guidance; Training and tutorial services; Adult basic education; Rehabilitation facility training; Telecommunications, sensory and other technological aids for people who are deaf; Vehicle modification; Assistive devices such as artificial limbs, braces, wheelchairs and hearing aids to stabilize or improve function; and Other services as needed to achieve independent living objectives, such as transportation, interpreter services and maintenance.

For more information, click here.
For a complete list of Independent Living Centers, click here.

Comprehensive Rehabilitative Services 
DARS realizes that timely and intensive rehabilitation is crucial for a person with a traumatic spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury to re-enter the community and live as independently as possible. For some, it's relearning skills most take for granted, such as walking, talking, eating or writing. Or, it may require learning to accomplish these tasks in a new way. To be eligible for the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services program, the individual must have a traumatic brain injury and/or spinal cord injury that results in a substantial impediment to functioning independently. There must also be a reasonable expectation that the individual's ability to function within the family and/or community will improve with the provision of services.

In addition, the applicant must be: at least 16 years of age when services are completed; A U.S. citizen or immigrant alien of the United States and a resident of Texas for at least six months or have a family member living in Texas for at least six months who is or will become the applicant's primary caregiver; Sufficiently medically stable to participate actively in a program of services; and Willing to participate in treatment. DARS provides payment for these three basic Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services: Inpatient Comprehensive Medical Rehabilitation, Outpatient Services, and Post-Acute Traumatic Brain Injury Services.

For more information, click here.

Blind and Visually Impaired Services

For more general information, click here or call 1-800-628-5115.

Blindness Education, Screening and Treatment 
The Blindness Education, Screening and Treatment (BEST) Program serves qualified individuals with diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, detached retina, or another eye disease determined to be an urgent medical necessity by the applicant's eye doctor and a state medical consultant.

BEST assists uninsured adult Texas residents with the payment for urgently needed eye-medical treatment. Individuals applying for BEST Treatment Program services must apply through their physician or optometrist.

For more information, click here.

Blind Children's Vocational Discovery and Development 
The Blind Children's Vocational Discovery and Development Program helps children with visual impairments get the greatest benefit from school, learn to be as independent as possible, and provides support for families.

Children between the ages of birth and 10 years who live in Texas and have vision impairment.

Services may include educational support; training in areas like food preparation, money management, recreational activities and grooming; help to coordinate medical services; and information for families about additional resources.

For more information, click here.

Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind or Visually Impaired
Does someone have a vision problem that prevents him/her from getting a job or that may cause you to lose his/her job? If so, the services available from the DARS Division for Blind Services Vocational Rehabilitation Program or Transition Program (for students 10 and older) may be able to help this person get a job or help keep the one he/she already has.

Someone might be eligible for services if: he/she have a visual impairment that is a barrier to employment; he/she can benefit from vocational rehabilitation services in terms of an employment outcome; and he/she require vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for, get, or retain gainful employment.

There are a variety of services available to the vocational rehabilitation consumer, including: Evaluation; Rehabilitation teaching ; Counseling, guidance, referral; Orientation and mobility services; Physical and mental restoration; Reader services; Transportation; Technological aids and devices; Vocational Training; and Employment Assistance.

For more information, click here.

Transition Program 
The Transition Program is for students 10 and older who are making the change from school to work, or from secondary school to college or vocational school. This program is designed to help the young adult who is blind or visually impaired gain the skills needed to be independent and successful for life.

For more information, click here.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services

DARS provides a variety of services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, including:

  • Information and referral regarding deafness and/or hearing impairment is provided to all people who inquire, regardless of hearing loss.
  • Communication access services are provided to people who are deaf or hard of hearing for essential services and community participation. This service includes sign language or oral interpreters, and real-time captioning.
  • The Senior Citizens Program is geared toward bridging the communication barriers and reducing the isolation facing people who are deaf or hard of hearing, ages 60 or older. Services vary from area to area and may include coping skills training, independent living services, and recreational activities.
  • The Early Intervention Program funds various projects to identify individuals with possible hearing loss and provide information about available resources. Projects target high-risk populations.
  • Interpreter Outreach and Training
    Vehicle Safety Communication Stickers indicates a driver who is deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program that provides financial assistance to purchase specialized equipment or services for access to the telephone systems to individuals who have a disability that interferes with their ability to access the telephone network.

Start by calling (512) 407-3250 or TTY (512) 407-3251. For more information, click here.

Early Childhood Intervention Services

Early Childhood Intervention Services provide support and assistance for families with children, birth to three, with disabilities and developmental delays. Services are provided by a variety of local agencies and organizations across Texas.

Early Childhood Invention Services provide evaluations, at no cost to families, to determine eligibility and need for services. Families and professionals work as a team to plan appropriate services based on the unique needs of the child and family. Families are charged on a sliding fee scale for some services.

Early Childhood Intervention Services focuses on working with the child and family in their natural environment, such as at home, grandma's, or a child care center. Essentially, it is where children live, learn and play.

For more information, call 1-800-250-2246, 8am-5pm M-F or click here.