Until recently, the Chapter 31 guidelines for Self-Employment were all but impossible to qualify for. If a disabled veteran was so disabled that regular employment was not an option, then Vocational Rehabilitation would consider setting up a veteran to run his or her own business.
Last January, this all changed with the stroke of a pen. According to the Federal Register, new language adopted by the CFR will open the opportunity to more disabled veterans, perhaps to help reach the disabled veteran contractor requirement that the VA has failed to meet over the past years. The summary reads:
[W]e are amending our regulations regarding the approval authority for self-employment plans to make certain requirements less restrictive and less burdensome, to remove a vague and overly broad requirement, to make changes to reflect longstanding VA policy, and to make nonsubstantive clarifying changes.
While this may appear to be a slam dunk for some of you looking at this option, do not believe the hype. Many Regional Offices will not be proactive in implementing this change or even be privy to it. Prior experiences with failure have caused Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and Counseling Psychologists to automatically disallow veterans from proceeding in this direction. Without such approval, your plan will be dead in the dirt.
To avoid this, be sure to have a clear presentation developed prior to your first meeting. This is key. Most disabled veterans are totally clueless during their first meeting. Having your ducks in a row will differentiate you from your peers and perhaps give you the edge necessary to turn a “no” into a “yes.”