The promise with Voc Rehab: Chapter 31 is that it will retrain disabled veterans into a vocation or profession, and the veteran will find substantive employment. When you find that job, after working successfully, you will receive 2 months of stipend money from Voc Rehab. After 60 days on the job, Voc Rehab will declare you to be “rehabilitated.” According to 38 CFR Part 21, “rehabilitated to the point of employability” means the following: “that the veteran is employable in an occupation for which a vocational rehabilitation program has been provided under this program.”

This seems rather straightforward for anyone reading the regulations. Chapter 31 Voc Rehab Counselors should be on top of what the regulations mean. The benefit to the counselor once “rehabilitation” is reached: they get to check off the case from their totals. Each Regional Office gets dinged for open cases, so there is a push to close cases out. Again, this seems pretty simple to most disabled veterans, counselors and anyone reading the definitions.

However, in reality, many counselors are using the small stipend amount as a carrot for disabled veterans to rush out to find employment in any field, both part-time and full-time. Doing this prevents veterans from taking the time to find appropriate jobs for which they trained and can damage their ability to have rewarding careers in the long run. And, more importantly, it can cheat many qualified veterans from receiving further educational benefits that would make them more competitive in the labor market.

Options. If there is a need for additional training for the veteran to become competitive in the field outlined within their IWRP, the counselor has the ability to approve the new plan. Recently, I received another email from a disabled veteran struggling to get answers from his Voc Rehab Counselor. The counselor was using the stipend to push the veteran into finding part-time work in an unrelated field, contrary to the intent of the program. The program is supposed to help the disabled veteran find substantive work in the field, or related field, for which they received training. If the veteran is unable to achieve this, they can accept work in an unrelated field, and be deemed rehabilitated, so long as the veteran agrees with the decision and says they like the job. Read over 38 CFR Part 21.283.

Silver Bullet. Yes, you have the ability to control the direction of the Silver Bullet. We all need money to live on. If the only job you can find is unrelated to your training, you must tell the counselor that the new job fits within your “aptitudes, abilities and interests.” If you tell the counselor you hate the job, guess what? The job does not fit with your interests. Thus, you cannot be deemed to be “rehabilitated.”

If you are being pushed, you need to read over the regulations. I successfully appealed a wrongful determination of “rehabilitated.” To read how I did it, view our Appeals Guide #4. This walks you through what I did. Now, Chapter 31 Voc Rehab is paying for me to attend Law School to become an Attorney. You are your best advocate. Don’t get pushed around. Click here to read how I pushed back.

Garyling Sean Collins
Garyling Sean Collins
I recently completed a Bachelor Degree from an accredited university and was employed full time with a private company outside of my degree field but now I am being laidoff or downsized. My question concerns additional training in the field of my degree. It appears a master’s degree is substantial in this field. I applied for government loans to attend a master’s degree program and the cost of repay is extremely high interest rate. Is there anyway Vocational Rehabilitation can… Read more »
Phillip Richmond
I am a retired Chaplain (8 years chaplain,8 years line officer, 4 years enlisted) who took a job upon retiring that is not panning out. I have a 60% disability rating (paratrooper back injuries) that is precluding me from fully doing the job I am currently holding. I got out in Aug 2002 and would like to pursue a docotorate to position me to teach. Could VOC rehab be used to pay for this? Thanks so much for your help… Read more »
Mathurita Lovett

I went through the Chapter 31 Voc Rehab program, and am now working in an unrelated field and deemed rehabilitated. Is there a way that I can go back and get a graduate degree, the job market is so competitive that there are people with graduate degrees and higher trying to get the job that I have now. DO I have any recourse?

Micheal Pugh
Hello, I was considered “Rehabilitated” at the beginning of 2010. I am a 30% disabled vet and voc rehab paid for 2 BA degrees, but I spent almost 6 months straight trying to find a career in the fields that I went to school for, but I found no employment. I currently work full time for a company where I make my disabilities are severly effecting my work (I can no longer lift heavy objects, squat for long periods or… Read more »
Mick Smith
Michael, it’s really hard to say without knowing all the facts of the situation. The regulation that applies is 38 CFR 21.284. This is the pertinent part of that: 21.284 Reentrance into a rehabilitation program. (a) Reentrance into rehabilitation to the point of employability following a determination of rehabilitation. A veteran who has been found rehabilitated under provisions of §21.283 may be provided an additional period of training or services only if the following conditions are met: (1) The veteran… Read more »
Rich Carey
I just want to make sure I understand correctly. I was in the Voc-rehab program and completed my BA degree in management December 2009. I was working for the Census as a supervisor, temporary job which ended in May of 2010. However, I was told I was rehabilitated and completed the program. Since then I have be unable to find work as a manager, which was my planned program. I only used 15 months of the program. I have been… Read more »
I have a Question, Currently I am a Disabled vet. my rating is at 70% with 100% Unemployablity . I completed College via Voc Rehab and now am being sent to a counselor of some type to find a job. The last year of College my health declined even further and I know longer think I can work a full time job. I would rather stay on the disability and use my education to get a part time job that… Read more »
Don Woolbright
Hello, I was recently approved for Voc Rehab,, My disability rating is only 10%, though I have other disabilities that are currently in the system. In order to be eligible I was found with a severe employment handycap. I am most interested in my own business or schooling. I have an extensive employment history but am lacking formal education. I was told that it is too late to apply for school. My counselor sent me to opportunity villiage. I have… Read more »
Raymond W. DiPietro
1st off I should have done this 20 years ago and said the hellwith it to my wife and kids and followed my dream and become a chef something I have wanted to do all my life. At 58yrs old I had surgery on my right shoulder rottor cuff well what was to be a2 hous surgery trrned into 5.5 hours and in Dec, 08 I applied for SSDI with all the PT we could not build up any strength… Read more »
hi im an air force guy high voltage line man no boom trucks then only spikes also i was in charge of flight line light and tranformers and strobe housing baricks offiscer club i had put a red tag on air condition control i was checking the power and the panel blow right off the wall kick me back about 15 feet some officer tock the tag of i have damage to my eyes could not see for about 6… Read more »
My voc rehab counselor took 3 months to get back to me. First she mentioned a non paying internship with the VA medical center but that fell through. Upon our meeting when she mentioned the internship she explained that if it didn’t work out we would explore school. I am currently enrolled in a university using my post 9/11 which will be end come Dec 2015. I am also a licensed X-ray tech but can’t find employment anywhere. I was… Read more »