Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Kay Hoffman

Second Advisor

Dr. Harold Kleinert


At the end of the 20th century, economic and political forces converged to create an unprecedented migration of Hispanics across and within U.S. borders. Many migrated for work in new destinations like the Southeast instead of traditional regions in the Southwest. In the Southeast many communities struggled to meet the economic and social needs of its newest members of a population that grew seemingly overnight.

The state-federal vocational rehabilitation system is an important service to meet the economic and social needs of people with disabilities that impair their ability to work. Current scholarship suggests Hispanics and other minorities experience disparities in the state-federal vocational rehabilitation (VR) system in access, services and outcomes. To date there are not any studies that examine the VR trends for Hispanics with disabilities in the VR system in general and or specifically compare new destinations compared to traditional settlement areas. This study used a federal archived administrative database (RSA-911) to analyze 469,427 cases over a 17-year period (1997 to 2013) of Hispanic consumers between ages 18 and 64 in the two regions. A human capital and social capital conceptual framework guided the study, as VR services can be interpreted as services that build human capital and social capital to increase economic opportunity and independence.

Declines in application, services, and successful outcomes occurred, but rates significantly differed between the two immigration destination types. An overall downward trend in application rates existed. Both regions experienced increases in eligibility, though in the Southeast a much steeper increase occurred. Overall, consumers in Southwest received more services, but the Southeast had better overall rehabilitation and employment outcomes. However, both regions declined in service and outcomes of the 17-year period. In addition, consumers in both regions received significantly more human capital building services, although social capital building services had higher rates of rehabilitation and employment

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)