Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (Ch. 31)
Eligibility and Entitlement
Services that may be provided by the VR&E Program include:
- Comprehensive evaluation to determine abilities, skills, and interests for employment
- Vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment services
- Employment services such as job-training, job-seeking skills, resume development, and other work readiness assistance
- Assistance finding and keeping a job, including the use of special employer incentives and job accommodations
- On the Job Training (OJT), apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
- Post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical or business school
- Supportive rehabilitation services including case management, counseling, and medical referrals
- Independent living services for Veterans unable to work due to the severity of their disabilities
Who is Eligible for VR&E Services?
Active Duty Servicemembers are eligible if they:
- Expect to receive an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge upon separation from active duty
- Obtain a memorandum rating of 20% or more from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and apply for VR&E services
Or (until December 31, 2015)
- Are participating in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) or are certified by the military as having a severe injury or illness that may prevent them from performing their military duties
- Apply for VR&E services, and report for an evaluation with a VR&E counselor before separating from active duty
Veterans are eligible if they:
- Have received, or will receive, a discharge that is other than dishonorable
- Have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10% from VA
- Apply for VR&E services
Basic Period of Eligibility
The basic period of eligibility ends 12 years from the date of notification of one of the following:
- Date of separation from active military service, or
- Date the veteran was first notified by VA of a service-connected disability rating.
- The basic period of eligibility may be extended if a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) determines that a Veteran has a Serious Employment Handicap
What happens after eligibility is established?
The veteran is scheduled to meet with a VRC for a comprehensive evaluation to determine if he/she is entitled for services. A comprehensive evaluation includes:
- An assessment of the veteran’s interests, aptitudes, and abilities
- An assessment of whether service connected disabilities impair the veteran’s ability to find and/or hold a job using the occupational skills he or she has already developed
- Vocational exploration and goal development leading to employment and / or maximum independence at home and in the veteran’s community
What is an Entitlement Determination?
A VRC works with the veteran to complete a determination if an employment handicap exists. An employment handicap exists if the veteran’s service connected disability impairs his/her ability to obtain and maintain a job. Entitlement to services is established if the veteran has an employment handicap and is within his or her 12-year basic period of eligibility and has a 20% or greater service-connected disability rating.
If the service connected disability rating is less than 20%, or if the veteran is beyond the 12-year basic period of eligibility, then a serious employment handicap must be found to establish entitlement to VR&E services. A serious employment handicap is based on the extent of services required to help a veteran to overcome his or her service and non-service connected disabilities permitting the return to suitable employment.
What happens after the Entitlement Determination is made?
The veteran and VRC work together to:
- Determine transferable skills, aptitudes, and interests
- Identify viable employment and/or independent living services options
- Explore labor market and wage information
- Identify physical demands and other job characteristics
- Narrow vocational options to identify a suitable employment goal
- Select a VR&E program track leading to an employment or independent living goal
- Investigate training requirements
- Identify resources needed to achieve rehabilitation
- Develop an Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan (IWRP) to achieve the identified employment and/or independent living goals
What is a Rehabilitation Plan?
A rehabilitation plan is an individualized, written outline of the services, resources and criteria that will be used to achieve employment and / or independent living goals. The plan is an agreement that is signed by the veteran and the VRC and is updated as needed to assist the veteran to achieve his/her goals.
Depending on their circumstances, veterans will work with their VRC to select one of the following five tracks of services (see definitions for more detail):
- Reemployment (with a former employer)
- Direct job placement services for new employment
- Employment through long term services including OJT, college, and other training
- Independent living services
What happens after the Rehabilitation Plan is developed?
After a plan is developed and signed, a VRC or case manager will continue to work with the veteran to implement the plan to achieve suitable employment and/or independent living. The VRC or case manager will provide ongoing counseling, assistance, and coordinate services such as tutorial assistance, training in job-seeking skills, medical and dental referrals, adjustment counseling, payment of training allowance, if applicable, and other services as required to help the veteran achieve rehabilitation.
How can I get paid the Post-9/11 GI Bill rate for my Vocational Rehabilitation program?
A veteran participating in the VR&E program who qualifies for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits can elect to receive the GI Bill rate of pay instead of the regular Chapter 31 subsistence allowance. In most cases, the GI Bill rate is higher than the regular Chapter 31 rate of pay. To elect the GI Bill rate, the veteran must have remaining eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and must formally choose (or “elect”) the GI Bill rate. Your VRC can help you with election. Veterans participating in the VR&E program who elect the Post-9/11 rate are paid at the 100% rate level for their school and training time, even if their Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility is less than 100%. Additional benefits are also available through the VR&E Program, such as full payment of all books, fees and supplies as well as other supportive services.