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#1 Unofficial Guide – Get Smart On Your VA Chapter 31 Voc Rehab Claim

Vocational Rehabilitation

Cliff Notes from the Voc Rehab Survival Guide

 Here’s what they should be telling you:

If you’re one of the thousands of disabled veterans reading this, you’re likely looking for help through this crazy Voc Rehab process designed to serve our nation’s disabled veterans. This process, formally called Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E), has the least amount of published information of all Department of Veterans Affairs programs on the web, from what I can tell.

Read on and you’ll get your square deal from Voc Rehab for your training.

Here’s what this article covers:

  1. What do I do before my first meeting?
  2. What will Voc Rehab pay for?
  3. How much will it pay?
  4. Where can I go to college?
  5. What degrees can I get?
  6. GI Bill versus Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation

For each of these topics, there are “asides” that need some explaining. The links below take you to more detailed information about your benefits claim development.

First VA Vocational Rehabilitation Meeting

First: Before that initial meeting, you (the disabled veteran) will need to prepare a basic case supporting what you want to do. Do not go in there with no idea of what you would like to do. It’s probably really annoying to the counselors, but more importantly, it makes you appear directionless. Take the time to sort out what you might want to do for the rest of your life, or at least the next few years. Click here for the Voc Rehab Survival Guide.

What Voc Rehab Will Pay For

Second: VA Vocational Rehabilitation will pay for anything from vocational training to medical school. If you can “prove” there will be a job waiting for you when your program is over, and the program is from an “accredited” program (i.e., a university or similar), your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) will likely approve it. Proof here means something like “more likely than not” versus absolute proof like a video recording of Timmy stealing a candy bar.

Now, you also need to prove to your VRC that you can successfully complete the training. Just walking into the office and declaring you want to be a doctor will not suffice. You will need satisfactory marks on your standardized tests, like SAT, ACT, GMAT, LSAT, etc. These tests will show the counselor you mean business.

RELATED: Biggest Lies Voc Rehab Tells Veterans

There are other ways too, such as doing well at a community college before transferring to a university. Other issues may also play a factor, such as PTSD and anxiety type disorders. Depending on the degree to which you are impacted by these conditions, your VRC may determine your “Limitations” are too great for a particular area of study. For information on how to get around denials given to many disabled veterans, click here.

RELATED: Self-Employment Approval Just Got A Little Easier

How Much Voc Rehab Will Pay

Third: VA Vocational Rehabilitation will pay for many things ranging from startup costs to a law degree. The magic limit is $25,000 per year. If your rehabilitation plan is more than this, it will require additional approvals. As you can guess, getting additional approvals is very difficult to accomplish. Your “call-to-action” better be spot on. Otherwise, you may get denied and piss off your counselor, should you re-apply.

Where You Can Go To College On Voc Rehab

Fourth: You can attend college anywhere, so long as you can support it with documentation. Things get sticky when disabled veterans want to get a four-year degree or graduate level training paid for. The counselor will balk at the idea of sending any disabled veteran to a private college or university. Voc Rehab is required to provide a training environment that is appropriate for training and the least financial impact to taxpayers. This means they are required – so they say – to send you to a public university when a program of study is offered that satisfies the goal of the veteran.

RELATED: Top 5 TDIU Misconceptions

For example, in Chicago, there is the University of Chicago (referred to as just “Chicago” in academic circles) and the University of Illinois – Chicago (called UIC). Chicago is a MUCH better institution than UIC on all levels, especially in areas like Economics and Public Policy. In fact, Chicago is rated 8th nationally, and UIC is Tier 3 (not even in the top 150) – no comparison. Let’s say disabled veteran Bob gets into both for an undergraduate degree. Bob wants to study Economics. Well, both UIC and Chicago have Economics programs. Guess where Bob has to attend? UIC. Now, there’s a little insider secret, or “workaround” for the politically correct reader, that is outside of the scope of this discussion. Click here to get around this issue and attend Chicago (or Northwestern, or Stanford, or Harvard), if you want.

Types Of Voc Rehab Training

Fifth: you can get college degrees in anything that would lead to a job somewhere. The obvious choice would be getting a degree in Business, Information Technology, Engineering, Accounting or something similar. These degrees give you specific job function type skill sets that most companies need. Degrees that do not have specific applicability are English, History, Economics, Art or similar. These degree paths give you general skills such as critical thinking, writing, and problem-solving. The disabled veteran may find the subjects interesting, but she will not know the difference between credit and debit or how to create a Pivot Chart in Excel. An easy solution would be to get a Business major with a minor in History or whatever one chooses. Here is a breakdown of earnings by degree type.

GI Bill vs Voc Rehab

Sixth: should you use the Post 9/11 GI Bill or Chapter 31 Voc Rehab? Great question. I wrote a little blog post for on the subject. Voc Rehab recipients have been screwed by recent legislation. In it, Senator Akaka and company have decided to discriminate between newly disabled veterans and disabled veterans who exited the military before 9/11. The newly disabled veterans can receive up to $2,800 per month in stipend funds while older disabled veterans in that same region can only receive $570. For disabled veterans with the option to choose, if you attend private school, it’s still probably better to take Voc Rehab. If you are attending a public school, the new GI Bill is the best bet, or at least it used to be.

After 2013, Voc Rehab started letting veterans opt for the higher Post 9/11 GI Bill amount while using Voc Rehab. It is a great option and allows veterans a chance to use benefits longer than 36 months while simultaneously getting higher subsistence payments.

RELATED: Voc Rehab Counselors Pushing Veterans Out Of Program Early

Feel free to post questions about these six issues or others below.

About the author: Ben is a disabled veteran from the Bosnia War era and served with the U. S. Air Force Special Operations Command in England. He has used Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation twice.

The first time, he attended Northwestern University, a premier private university in Illinois. He later received his law degree from the University of Minnesota, where he graduated magna cum laude. Voc Rehab then paid for Ben’s law firm that focuses on helping veterans sue the Department of Veterans Affairs. Here’s a link to his story.

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  1. Thank you, I’ve recently been searching for info approximately this
    topic for ages and yours is the best I’ve found out so far.
    However, what about the bottom line? Are you certain concerning the supply?

  2. I have a question. Will VocRehab pay for me to go back to college for a second time if I can not perform any job duties that I went to school for the first time? The reason is I am about to have a major surgery (1st rib resection and shoulder work). There is a good chance I will not be able to perform any job duties for what I went to school for. Because I will not be able to lift much weight and among other aspects. ( I have a aviation maintenance degree currently and most employers say you must be able to lift 70lbs by yourself. )

  3. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My website has a lot of exclusive content I’ve
    either written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of
    it is popping it up all over the internet without my authorization.
    Do you know any solutions to help stop content from being stolen? I’d definitely appreciate

  4. For those who are having issues with getting approved for Chapter 31, I extend my sympathies. But, don’t give up. If you’ve earned those benefits, then you are already entitled, even though it may take a few counselors.

    I scoured every blog/forum, book, regulation, etc., and even purchased Mr. Krause’s Survival Guide. I spent money I really didn’t even have to spend on some nice business paper, put together a presentation, and made sure to comb through every single letter and punctuation to make sure I wasn’t going to be denied over some stupid technicality or nuance. When I walked in I was prepared.

    First, I sat down when the employment coordinator – I completed my Career Scope before I arrived. He combed through my Rehabilitation Needs Inventory (RNI) form and asked me what seemed like some pretty general questions – mainly what I was hoping to get out of Voc Rehab and basically what the program was designed for. He had me sign a couple pieces of paper, security and information disclosures, and then I was off to see my counselor.

    When I was walking into his office, I was prepared, even borderline mad and ready to start a fight – because of multiple horror stories I’d read prior to my appointment. But, I was quickly grounded

    “John” was very kind. Very professional. Ready to do the job he was employed to do. Ready to help.

    He took an immediate interest in me. He wanted to know what I wanted to do with my life and why. He asked me about my past. He asked me about my military experience. He didn’t prod. He didn’t demand. He simply inquired. He took a look at my aptitude scores and suggested that I could probably do anything I wanted – I made sure to ensure him that even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.

    Half way through the meeting, he told me that I was clearly entitled – 37 months with 12 left on my Post 9/11. It was the first good day I’ve had in a long while. I wish they could all be like “John.” It is professionals such as him that restore a vet’s faith in the system and give an individual a second chance at a life and not just an existence.

    So, I implore you, keep fighting, keep working, stay prepared. Have faith in your creator, but don’t forget to keep the faith in yourself.

  5. I completed my BS on chapter 31. In the process I attended 3 different institutions, 1 Community College, a Jr. College and the University I eventually graduated from. While the stipend was low, I also applied for Pell Grants and Student Loans to assist. I actually got a few. I think the program was outstanding. It helps if you have support. I had my wife. All I can say is get started and don’t quit.

  6. I’m 100% disabled, from an IED blast in Iraq back in 2006.

    Here’s my journey through Voc Rehab.

    I started in 2009 and told the counselor I was looking to become an artist. After taking some tests and additional meeting, we both decided that a Graphic Designer was probably the best fit.

    I was nervous about attending a 4-year college right off the bat, as I had been out of school for almost a decade. So we agreed to me attending a 2 year Community College to see how things go.

    Voc Rehab paid for a new MacBook Pro, with the full Adobe Suite Package, as well as covering all the needs I had for books, supplies, etc.

    It took me about 3 years to graduate because I struggled with Math. But I graduated with an Associates in Graphic Design. After graduating I talked to my Counselor about getting my Bachelor’s, because it didn’t look like I would be able to get a job with just an associates. She agreed, and I started looking. (At this point I was on my second Voc Rehab counselor)

    I found Northeastern University (Private Univerity) in a magazine while waiting for my Voc Rehab appt. They were advertised as being big supporters of the Military and had a very healthy and growing Veteran Population on campus. I was originally going to try MassArt, but they fell through. So I got a portfolio and resume together and applied to Northeastern University (NEU).

    I was accepted and started at NEU in Spring of 2013.

    I had numerous difficulties while at NEU, mostly health related, from problems with my residual limbs, kidney stones, migraines, etc, etc. Sometimes I would miss an entire semester. Also, I commuted about an hour to school every day, so when the snow was bad, or the trains were down, I wasn’t going in. As long as I kept in contact with Voc Rehab and told them what was going on, it was all good.

    Voc Rehab paid for another brand new MacBook Pro, an iPad Tablet, a Wacom 24HB Digital Illustration Tablet, a Nikon D5300 DSLR Camera, additional software, more books, and supplies, as well as paying the $10,000 tuition fee for me to study abroad in Ireland at the Burren College of Art. Literally, no questions asked. I would put in a request for something I thought I needed, explain why I needed it, and it would get approved.

    It’s now April 2017,(I’m on my 3rd Counselor for Vac Rehab) and I am about to graduate with high honors and numerous awards at a Private University, all thanks to Voc Rehab.

    Keep in mind Voc Rehab varies state by state. I live in Massachusetts and have never had an issue with Voc Rehab telling me I can’t attend a Private University, or take time off, or steer me away from being an artist. But I have friends in Texas using Voc Rehab and running into numerous problems and issues about the smallest request.

    Definitely take articles like this seriously, but don’t go thinking Voc Rehab is out to fuck you or make you do something you don’t want to. If you’ve made it this far into my comment, you know how much they’ve provided for and helped me with over the past 8 years I have been in school.

  7. Hi Ben,
    On Chapter 31, can I include the BAH I receive as income on a loan application? Either auto or Mortgage? I have heard from a lender that the G.I. Bill is a definite NO but since this isn’t associated with the Post 9/11 or Montgomery, I thought to find out and haven’t been able to find any information on it.

    Thank you.

  8. Hi Ben, thank you for all of the excellent advice on VR&E.

    I was on VR&E until I finished my undergraduate in biology. I was told that I could apply for an extension to cover my DVM degree by my 2nd counselor at Colorado State. He retired and now I have a new guy (who is not veteran friendly and doesn’t want to help). I have filled a Notice of Disagreement, denied. Now I am ready to file a VA Form 9 but desperately need expert legal advice (you). I have to respond by March 24, 2017.

  9. Hi team, I wonder if someone can help with a persona case questionI began my three year graduate degree program on 9/11 Gi Bill benefits. I served ten years so I have 100%. But this still did not meet tuition costs so I have come out of pocket.

    Like many of us, I just recently learned about Vocational Rehab. And I furthermore heard that, since I qualify for Voc Rehab (I’m at 80% disability), I will be able to get paid back for the amount that I have personally spent on my grad school thus far. A total of about $15,000.

    Does anyone know if this is true?

  10. I was told today that I was disqualifed from Chapter 31 because I changed jobs to a job that was less wear and tear on my body. I am a 30% service connected vet. They told me that I had improved my job and got away from manual labor so since my job changed, I violated the terms of my contract. They also said that I would no longer be allowed to attend college on the voc rehab program and would have to repay the amount they paid to the college. Is this legal ?

  11. Does anyone have any idea how long it takes the VA to pay the tuition bill the VRE counselor sends to them?

    1. Donna, my experience was about two months. Pretty inconvenient but that is what I heard.

    2. It also depends largely on the school itself.

      My school (Northeastern University) has a very active and diligent Veteran Advocacy group on campus, and they make sure shit gets taken care of.

      One semester the VA just didn’t pay my tuition fee in time, and legally I could have been removed from all of my classes. Northeastern stepped in and told me not to worry about anything, because they know it’s probably just a paperwork issue, and that they’ll waive any fees until they hear back from the VA and get things squared away.

  12. Hello,
    I am currently using the Post 9/11 and attending St. John’s University for my undergraduate in Advertising. I have pushed myself extremely hard, usually taking 6 or 7 classes per semester and will be graduating with 7 months left on my GI Bill. With so many people in the industry I feel that a master’s degree in Communications/ Media studies would help set myself apart from the competition. My question is ::: How can I get the VA/ VOC REHAB to pay for my masters? I will have 7 months left, as I previously mentions, so I will need just an additional 9-10 months. The Post 9/11 only gives me 36 month, how do I extend it to the full 48–which would give me the additional time needed? Any information or direction you can point me in would be greatly appreciated. I will be submitting my application to switch to VOC REHAB today and hope that is the right choice to make. I have a disability rating of 30%, nothing too bad (bad knee and no gallbladder).

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Rose,

      If you’ll have 7 months of GI Bill left, my advice is to start the Masters program and then apply for Ch 31 when you only a few months left, like the start of your 2nd term in Grad school. Ch. 31 is very strict about approving a school and a program if you haven’t started, so go ahead and go to the one you want now, while you have a choice. It’s easier to ask them to pay for whatever is left, than to ask permission to go where you want.

      I was told they’ll only approve a Master’s after I’ve sufficiently proven I cannot find a job in the field I want to go into, so I am job hunting. I discovered that you must take at least 10 courses (30 hours) at a 4-year school for them to be able to issue a degree to you, so if you can make sure that you’re covered up to your last 10 courses, they can’t make you change schools. At least that applies for Undergrad, so I imagine it will work for Grad as well.

      I hope this works for you and you get the Master’s you want!


  13. I have a 10% disability but no employment handicap. I am seeking to switch to using Voc. Rehab to finish my 4 year degree in Public Policy and Administration at James Madison University. I have 14 months left on my GI Bill but this is not enough time to finish. Am I eligible to apply for the benefit?

    I am required to take an internship which I plan on completing in the summer of 2017 but this is likely to be without pay. I currently have a 3.475 GPA from JMU and a 4.0 GPA from my community college I attended previously.

  14. I’m about to graduate with my bachelors in Physics on Voc Rehab. Ideally I’d like to go to grad school for a Ph.D in Physics which the VA has already stated they won’t pay for (which is fine) but I’d like to know if Voc Rehab will pay for me to retake a class they haven’t paid for. I started college in 2007, dropped out to join the Marines, and came back to school when I got out. I have some gen ed credits from back then but they aren’t the best grades (C-‘s mostly) and I’d like to retake at least one of them to boost my gpa and look better for grad school applications. Will they allow me to retake classes I haven’t failed if I paid for them myself originally 9 years ago?

  15. If I begin barber school using my chapter 33, can I switch over to voc rehab and continue on getting my barber license using voc rehab? I am tired of waiting to get rated and just want to get started with barber school. Let’s say I’m 2 months in to the barber program at a barber college and I get rated, can I just switch over to voc rehab without having to stop school?

  16. Hi, I am approved and have an accepted degree path with chapter 31 and my college of choice. Computer Science Degree. It takes a week or more to get an answer from my counselor when I send a question, wondering if you know whether if I earn a financial scholarship while on Chap 31, do I get to keep that money or does it go towards educational costs? (I also had already locked up a couple of academic scholarships based on my previous grades before I found out I was eligible for Chapter 31) Thanks for the good work that you are doing! Semper Fi… David

  17. I showed up for a meeting at the Anchorage, AK vocational rehabilitation office and was extraordinarily prepared. From this, the manager, Tammy Tanner, unilaterally decided that I did not need voc rehab. So then what is a veteran to do? [I had been approved for VA voc rehab prior to her decision.]

  18. I think this site is super helpful. Thank you. My question is, what would be the reasons for one’s VOC Rehab small stipend to be suspended? I just received a letter informing me of such an action, Why? The letter is dated 8/17/15 and classes restarted 8/20/15. I have not done anything wrong, not that I am aware of. My college allows two tries at a course if one has previously taken it and achieve a less than desirable grade so, I chose to retake Sociology for the second time, having had failed it due to a super duper rude and verbally abusive instructor, and absolutely not invested in seeing us succeed; also by the time we complained to the dean it was super late in the semester. I lost all interest in the class, and though I attended each class; barely got anything out of it. I figure if a fail grade I would retake it with a better teacher. I am an A student in all of my other classes but this woman really got to many of us….I just gave up on the class early on in the semester. I am retaking it this fall semester along two others needed for graduation. I told my counselor of my issues with the class and he informed that there was no need to worry since the class is not so directly related to my major; Administrative Office Technology. In order to keep raised up my GPA once again I decided to retake the class, since the college allow me. This action is the only reason I can think of for my stipend to have been suspended. Any feedback in the matter. Thank you

  19. I am attending a community college right now and I am using the post 9/11. I will Transfer to a four year university fall of 2016 and with be majoring in biochemistry. After getting my degree, I will be attending a medical school. I am not sure if I should save my Gi Bill for medical school or use most of it now and switch to voc rehab after I get into medical school. If I use 35 months of the Gi Bill, can I get voc rehab to put me through medical school? It will exceed the 48 months.

    1. From what take of it the 48months is just for the gi bills Montgomery/post 9/11 and the voc rehab is something totally on its on that why t Hey are separate departments with the va.

  20. I’d like to know if someone can qualify for Voc Rehab even though they already have a masters degree but are currently unemployed?

    1. If it is a “marketable” Masters degree there are many voc rehab counsel ours who will not approve it, you may find a couple who do. The key point is that your disability prevents you from working in your specified degree field. Hope this helps!

  21. I have 4 months remaining on my Post 9/11 GI Bill. I recently applied to Voc Rehab using VONAPP online.

    So far no response from then, but it’s been less than a month. If I am interested on a masters or health management at a private school in the North East, New Jersey or New York City. Will I be approved? Or will I likely be more approved if I attend a private school for medical sonography, even though I finished a bachelors in political science with the GI Bill?

    I am kind of worried I may lose my 4 months left on the GI Bill, since I read alot of negative feedback on the VA counselors and the limitations imposed. My disability rate is only 20 percent.

    I am more inclined to pursue a masters than a technical degree, of course this is assuming I will be paid full BAH rates for the school where I will attend. If not approved, can I move back to where I studied before, and re-apply there? I initially was approved for colleges there and finally graduated last year in May.

    Anyone’s feedback will be greatly appreciated. I am kind of nervous for my first meeting since I just moved from New York to Houston. The Houston VA facility has been a terrible experience compared to Manhattan in 23rd Street.

    Thank you.

    1. Wow I have been to the va on 23rd
      but just the er it seemed so empty
      but now I am in Florida going to voc rehab march 4 i am trying to get this right

    1. I presented my case to my VA counselor and he was ‘turned off’ to the idea. He was rude and condescending and the only thing he did was steer me to the job service office. Extremely disappointed!

      1. I know that feeling, I was excepted to go to The University of Southern California after getting a 3.9 gpa while working on my BS. I was told I needed to go on-campus in order to be approved. I have a family and a crappy job that was literally about to kill me or me them. A month later I was told if I didn’t except the school they “suggested” they would close my file and I would have to start the process all over. So instead of giving me the 48 months I was promised for schooling I got a crappy 9 month certification program ON-LINE. Now that I have not been able to find an antiquate job with that BS they are now saying I did not have 48 months and will not help me to get a degree that would really help me be desirable in the work force. I though the VA was there to help us and not to treat us like a cancer.

    2. I went to gunsmith school for my master gunsmith certification. I was provided a business coach, and after months of writing a business plan, I was accepted. I graduated within the two year allotted time frame. I could have gone longer, but would require an extension. It was a pain initially, and my counselor is about worthless when it comes to responding to phone calls, emails, etc. For the last year since graduating, I have been working with a different business coach, rewriting my business plan so the VA will fund shop equipment, tools, etc. It is in the works now and hopefully I will be approved. I own my own shop, work full time at another job, have a family, and my own issues to deal with. I am in the Philly area. Hopefully my counselor will tell me something good for once. All she does is rack up more and more work, and just like the military, hurry up and wait, while rarely responding to simple questions. It took a lot of work to convince the VA that gunsmithing is for me, and to assure them I am not violent, suicidal, etc. I have an appointment in October, 2015, to hopefully hear something good. Let me know if I can help.

      1. Hello Matt, what gunsmith school did you attend? I am thinking of this also, the only thing holding me up is housing while my wife and kids stay in MICHIGAN. DOES the VA assist in housing?

  22. Do you need a loan? Are you in financial crisis? If you need help on your financial service on getting a loan. Book appointments on loan amount ranging from $ 5,000 to $ 5,000000.00 with the interest rate of 3% simply contact us at SGR Marketers via our email; Email: [email protected]

  23. I am a chap.31 disabled vet. I found employment. However, I will need to move. I cant’ believe Chap. 31 won’t help with my relocation assistance. Does any one have any suggestion.

  24. I’m currently using Voc Rehab and got appoved for a BS in Technical Management. I’m about to graduate in a month and I can’t seem to find a good job to save my life. I will be done with the “48 Month” max and cannot continue to pursue a Masters degree. Is there anyway around that if I can’t find a job? technicanlly I’m not rehabilitated if I can’t find a job.

    1. I’m going through the same issue. My counselor won’t approve getting basic IT Certifications. Without it, the degree is useless. I don’t want to spend another year struggling to make ends meet. She acts as if she doesn’t know anything about shit and it’s irritating. School counselors have advised me to get out of the program and find a way to fund my own certs or get a different counselor.

  25. I am a Vietnam Vet having served four years in Vietnam, a retired Sergeants Major with 100% disability and 70% alone in PTSD. I am trying to find out the percentage of all eligible Veterans who take advantage of Voc Rehab. I need this information to submit an appeals letter for additional Voc Rehab training. Can anyone provide me with factual (references) on this analysis or published documentation

    1. Hi Les,
      I’m a Gulf War vet with 14 years in the military. I got out on a medical discharge due to a spinal injury and sciatica nerve damage. I’m at 70%, and just graduated from the University of Alabama Birmingham 8/10 /13.Yes!!! You are “definitely ” eligible for additional Voc Rehab training all the way up to your Masters Degree. I’m not to sure about your doctorate, but I do know that the VA will pay for your Masters. I have a great VA counselor, and this is what she told me. If you have a rating of at least 20% or more, you are eligible for Chapter 31. The VA will give you a time limit to get this done (usually in months) to get your degree. The only factual information I have right now is this link
      I hope it helps out.

  26. Does anyone know if it is possible to change career paths while in the vocational rehab program? I have been in the program for just over one year pursuing a bachelors in business administration. With my TBI and PTSD I am finding it hard to concentrate on the hard financial/accounting parts of the degree, and with two children and knowing in the future I would want to home school them and also love children I feel early childhood education would be a better fit for me. I just wanted to know if anyone has changed their degree field before sending an email to my counselor. Thank you.

    1. Yes. I am just finishing my Medical Assisting AS after having changed my career path request -twice. In week 5 of an internship, I now know this path is not the right fit for me and is exascerbating my disabilities.

      Does anyone know if I can be considered for further training in another career field? I am not lazy and the end goal is to find a career I can work hard at and earn a living, I am not interested in seeking unemployment.

  27. I am in the Ch 31 program and not a post 9-11 vet. I find it very difficult to survive on the meager stipend that they offer. I have taken out loans and financial aid to get get by month to month, and next year (my senior year of college), I will no longer be eligible for financial aid or student loans because I have maxed them out trying to keep a roof over my head. My voc rehab counselors only advice is to go out and get a job which is a catch 22 considering the program that I’m in. Does anyone have any advice on how to survive in this program without loans or financial aid. I attend school full time and can not afford a car, which very much limits me finding suitable work to survive.

    thank you so much,

    1. Hi Jeff,

      I feel you on your situation, but don’t give up and finish school. Have you try some at home jobs? Places like Bank of America and American Express have potions to work at home for customer service. If you speak another language you also have that hires to translate phone conversations.

      Good Luck!

  28. Hello,
    I am approved through VA voc rehab for my BSN. I made a quick choice. Now that I thought about life and examined my intrest I have decided to become a PA. I want to change my plan to this how do I do it?
    Thanks.(PA is a Physicians Assistant which is a Masters)

  29. I am about to finish up my BS/BM degree paid for by CH 33 which is running out soon. I am 40% disabled and I have always wanted to be an on-air personality in the radio business. Will CH 31 pay for a mentoring program I found out about online that also has a job placement program at the end. I am currently employed as a civil servant in a profession that has nothing to do with this field.

  30. can i use chap 31 again, i went to havc classes and couldnt get a job no experience,
    i would like to go to barber school,

  31. For Marco (and any other concerned individuals): Unfortunately, some schools use the extreme VA guidelines for submission of benefit requests. This means that they can wait until 30 days after the drop/add date before submitting to the VA. Then the 4-6 week VA processing time kicks in! I expected a delay my first semester, but even though I did not get “pre-approved” by my school, I certainly did not expect it this year. This year, according to the VA rep I spoke with, there were several hundred thousand new veterans attending school which caused a significant backlog. As of that conversation there was nothing implemented to streamline the process and future delays should be expected. Check with your VA Advisors to see if they have a pre-approval process to help out.

  32. My husband just completed his degree through Chapter 31, and now his monthly pay has ceased. When he first began the program, he was told that they would continue to pay him until he found a job, but that he would have to begin phase two of the program (the job search portion). He has begun this (just received his degree a week ago) and has prospects for employment, but has not been hired yet. We are suffering financially due to this loss of pay. Do you know what the guidelines are for the monthly pay upon completion, and how long that pay should last?

  33. My school holds on to my financial aid reward until the VA pays them. This is just their policy for third party payment plans. Every semester I am needing to wait a very long time; almost till the end of each semester to collect my reward. The stipend helps a little but the financial aid money is what really helps. Especially since we do not get in between pay now. Why does it take them so long to process my paperwork and pay my school? Who could I contact to try and expedite the process besides my counselor. I know my schools policy is rare. Are they assuming that we can all get our financial aid before the school gets paid? My paperwork supposedly got submitted some time in January and it is now April. Any advice for me would be great. It is hard to concentrate on school with financial issues to deal with.

  34. I was just sent an e-mail from the VA regional office employment department stating I would be responsible for repaying $56K if I did not respond to their e-mail.. They have been sending me e-mails for jobs 6 hours away from me, jobs in a totally different area that I am not qualified for and my husband is still on active duty, which means I would be leaving my husband and two young girls to take the jobs. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and Depression from the VA and am not able to work anyway right now. On top of all of this my husband has orders out of country where we will relocate for 3 years in June. Can the VA make me repay the loans because I have not found work since completing the program?

  35. Hello Mr. Krause,

    I am currently using Voc Rehab to get my BSW. I have a plan to get my Masters in Social Work. I am wanting to know if Voc Rehab will pay for relocation expenses. I will not be attending the same University due to the problems within the Masters program and would like to get my Masters from a good school. My counselor knows that I am planning on going out of state. I am just wanting to know if they will help offset the cost of moving,


    1. Some VRC’s will. It will be up to your new VRC. It is normally only mileage reimbursement. You have to relocate first and then they old office will send your file to the new one. You have to move to new location first!!!

  36. Good day Ben,
    My ETS was back in June 2001 from the Army. I am 60% disabled and have used Voc Rehab back in 2006 to get finish up an AA degree in design I started before I began my time in service. I’d like to go back and finish up a Bachelors degree in Design (basically finishing up the degree I started). I have had a heck of a time getting anyone to talk to, but the one person who called me back said I would have to prove that I physically can not to the job they already trained me for to even be considered back in at all. I still have time left to enroll in Voc Rehab as far as the time frame is concerned, but my injuries haven’t worsened thankfully. I really want this. Am I wasting my time even trying to get back in. Please lend me some wisdom. Thanks.

  37. I am going for my first appointment with Voc Rehab in about a week.

    I have 70 percent disabilty for PTSD right now, I was wanting to know if I complete School but am unable to hold down a job will my rating go down?

    I know I could most likily do very well in school since I could just keep to myself, I am just unsure if I could be able to interact with my co-workers without flipping out of them. I speak my mind about what I think about people without thinking if I should say it or not. Thats why I dont have many friends at all, besides a few other veterans that are not totally stupid.

  38. I have been battling with Sabrina Harris for the last 5 months. This VRC refuses to follow VRE Chp 31 regulations and is trying everything she can to disqualify me from my entitlements. Does anyone know a good attorney that handles Chp 31?

    1. Best way to go is calling your senator. Tell her that you will do that. The threat usually is sufficient to change their mind

  39. A little something veterans should know if you are rated for PTSD.. Voc Rehab will “NOT” pay for certain schools.. Ie: Gunsmithing, Commercial Pilot or anything they deam dangerous? But you can go buy a weapon? As long as you dont have a felony or domestic violence??
    So im now forced to go to the 9/11 GiBill(Which is run by the VA also??) and the 9/11 will pay for the school??? Point is, I wanted the VocRehab because they’ll cover cost of tools and such.. Now I have to pay out of pocket..

    Thanks for serving, Thanks for getting blown up a few times.. Sorry you have TBI and PTSD.. But your a nut job!!!


  40. Why isn’t Voc Rehab benefits transferable? My daughter could use the money towards college . My ex and I never married but he did nothing with his benefits. I met him a few years after he left the military and our daughter was born much later. Just doesn’t seem fair that the children can’t use an otherwise substancial benefit that he is doing nothing with

    1. Maybe because your daughter wasn’t in the military and did not get a disability, the Voc Rehab is for Veterans to better themselves. I do not even understand the login of your quesiton.

      If you wanted Educational benefits for your child then going into the military in a state that has those benefits would of helped.
      Such as hazlewood in Texas.

      1. I guess if you know someone that knew someone that was in the military you can use their benefits for your kids haha. I don’t get the question either but it bothers me when everyone sucks out of the VA and when people that really need the help come along and the process is a nightmare.

  41. You can get a degree for History, English, Math etc. easily approved if you pitch it right. I am an eight year Navy veteran who was hit by a crane ball and am now paralized from the waist down. I was approved for a degree in history with no problems at all beacuse there is a very good market for history majors as “teachers”. You do have to pitch it to them that way. I start college this month!

  42. Ben,
    Thank you for making the effort to maintain this website and help your fellow veterans use their Vocational Rehab benefits.

    Right now, I am in the process of finishing up my AA in Human Services, with the intent of transfering to a University to finish my BA. However, I want to finish my BA, an MA and Phd in Sociology using the Voc Rehab program.

    My question is, in the past I seem to remember being told by a Voc Rehab counselor about having at least 6 months left of benefits left to be able to use Voc Rehab. Is that still true?

    This was in 2005, I realize things are always changing. Thank you for any guidance you can provide.

  43. I just moved to the state of Washington and am trying to figure out a way to get funds for a flight school (helicopter to be specific). I have 13 months left of entitlement on my post 9/11 GI and also have 20% disability. I am finding it difficult to get any flight program paid for if anyone knows anything on the subject, including getting Voc Rehab to pay for it, please let me know.

  44. This is directed at: “I’m not tellin'”

    Hi. Is there any way I can get in touch with you? I just got accepted into the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and have only 3 mos of 48 mos left for GI Bill and the school accepts VR&E as well. I just want to pick your brain and get some pointers please contact me at: [email protected]

    Hope to hear from you soon!

  45. I’ve used up all of my GI Bill. How will this impact my eligibility for Voc Rehab?

    I was previously approved for Voc Rehab but couldn’t get approved for the program I wanted to take because they asked for information that just wasn’t available to me. I completed my useless degree in Film Production and am now working in medical administration (joy!).

    We are looking to grow our family and I need to improve my earning potential and find a job that is going to stimulate me and inspire me to come to work every day. I think a degree in a science field will be the thing, but there is no overlap with my current degree so I will essentially have to go back to school for 4 years or more.

  46. I wanted to find out about stipend for outline courses. I am currently attending the Nursing program through Excelsior College, via voc rehab, chp 31. The nursing courses are basically exams.

  47. “The disabled veteran may find…subjects [other than business] interesting, but she will not know the difference between a credit and debit or how to create a Pivot Chart in Excel.”
    This must have been written by a business or accounting major – did you know that some people don’t give a rat’s ass about MS Excel, balance sheets, or P+L statements? FYI – A business degree does not guarantee a job – my undergrad program was finance (from a top 10 business school) and I could not find a job (back in 2001, when the tech bubble killed the job market) so I joined the Army. My advice: find out what you really enjoy, then find a way to get paid to do it – whether it is musical composition, sculpture, or biochemical engineering. Voc Rehab will pay for it as long as you qualify, have good test scores (I.Q., GRE, GMAT, etc.), and the disability doesn’t interfere with the job that you are training for. I am now out of the Army and the VA (Voc. Rehab) is paying for my MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching Visual Art) after paying for about 60 or 70 undergraduate studio art credits (that were prerequisites for my current program) PLUS subsistence and my VA pension.
    If you can dream it, you can do it!!

  48. Please let me know if I understand this correctly…. I’ve contacted the VA about my eligibility for the GI Bill and they looked me up on their system and told me that I have 1 year left to go, which surprised me because I graduated with my B.S. back in 2001…

    They told me that I can convert it to the Post-9/11 because I had returned to service after college and would receive the added benefit of $1540 per month for housing, based on my school’s zip code where I would like to attend.

    And as I understand it, while I wish to go to a flight school listed on the VA website, but I can’t go there until Oct.1,2011 under the Post 9/11 GI Bill’s changes.

    To add to that, I am at 50% disability with the VA, and have verified on the phone that I should be able to attend school under the Voc Rehab program too, but the lady that answered the phone told me that she had no idea how much that program’s living allowance would be when she told me that I have to go to their website and make a choice between the Post 9/11 GI Bill of Voc Rehab that is irreversible.

    But what I’ve read here, starting on Oct.1,2011, the amounts for both programs will be the same, right? So there would be an advantage for people going to a traditional 4-year college to go under the Voc Rehab if they are at or above 20% because there wouldn’t be a “break” in housing, or am I reading too much into that for them?

    My main concern is that I have been homeless for the past two years, even though I am working full time. (Which is to say I don’t get payed well and my stuff is in storage while I drive a truck all over the country and live in the 18 wheeler…)

    Thus, the amount of money I would receive for housing or what ever you want to call it would be extremely important to me as I’m trying to figure out what to do so I can get a place to live and focus on starting a new life and be able to actually get some help from the VA with my medical problems…


  49. I was approved (very quickly) for CHP 31 Voc Rehab today but I am having trouble seeing the benefits over the GI Bill so far. Ben, how would you go about receiving the GI Bill stipend under CHP 31? This was certainly not something my counselor mentioned. The program seems very limited but I believe it has alot to do with this area and an apparent mass exodus of VA employees in that office.

    1. You can elect to use Chapter 30 GI Bill. The Congress is trying to get the CFR to reflect the new Chapter 33 GI Bill. It will likely look like 38 CFR Part 21.264. Here is what the reg says about the old GI Bill. The new reg when it’s done being drafted will likely look similar. Go to the site for the full regulation:

      § 21.264 Election of payment at the 38 U.S.C. chapter 30 educational assistance rate.

      (a) Eligibility. A veteran who applies for, and is found entitled to training or education under Chapter 31, may elect to receive payment at the educational allowance rate and other assistance furnished under Chapter 30, for similar training in lieu of a subsistence allowance, provided the following criteria are met:

      (1) The veteran has remaining eligibility for, and entitlement to educational assistance under Chapter 30;

      (2) The veteran enrolls in a program of education or training approved for benefits under Chapter 30;

      (3) The program of education is part of an IWRP (Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan) approved by VA.

  50. If you have your GI Bill, VA will not pay for your school unless you exhausted your GI Bill. Basically from my understanding from the counslor, you can only use Voc-Rehab the same amount of months you have left on your GI Bill. Example, if you used 6 months of it already, VA will only fund an extra 30 months for a total of 36 months. Only way VA will pay for everything is, if you don’t have a GI Bill because you transferred it to your kids, only then will VA be obligated to pay for your schooling. If you still have your GI Bill, good luck having VA fund your education for you without ever utilizing your GI Bill.

    1. Hi Tony,

      It is completely inaccurate to assert you cannot use Voc Rehab if you have the GI Bill. You are not allowed to use them both at the same time, though, you can be in Voc Rehab and receive the stipend amount from the GI Bill. You are unable to get both stipends at the same time.

      But, if you have a 20% disability rating with an employment handicap, you are entitled to Voc Rehab regardless of your GI Bill availability. Plus, Voc Rehab is a standard 48 month entitlement, not 36 months like the GI Bill. Voc Rehab can also be extended. I am approved to use Voc Rehab for a total of 80 or so months – just shy of 7 years. Many VA Voc Rehab counselors push disabled veterans to use the GI Bill for a variety of reasons, but it is not required.

      1. I have a 10% disability but no employment handicap. I am seeking to switch to using Voc. Rehab to finish my 4 year degree in Public Policy and Administration at James Madison University. I have 14 months left on my GI Bill but this is not enough time to finish. Am I eligible to apply for the benefit? I am required to take an internship which I plan on completing in the summer of 2017 but this is likely to be without pay. I currently have a 3.475 GPA from JMU and a 4.0 GPA from my community college I attended previously.

  51. MR Mcneil,

    I am a veteran just as you are. I have been layed off for five months and I am interested in attaining educational benefits. I notice one thing right from the start about you. Look at how you type. Just look at how you communicate. I really do not know how you expect anyone to take you serious when you can not even take the time to actually complete a sentence or bother to spell words. I am not trying to be rude or make you mad. I was a non-comissioned officer in the US Army, presentation is everything sometimes. From reading your questions and statements you come across as not being ready to attend an institution of higher education. You seem as though you can not even apply the basics of what you should have learned by the time you graduated Highschool. Your counselor sees this and can also tell, that you question their intelligence. Losing your temper, and being combative is going to keep you out of the game. Calm down, slow down, act like you have sense and get things done.

    1. That was wrong talking to a felow get like that not everyo,e is smart or can be an officer but he served his country and I’m sure problay more than yourself just because he doesn’t use proper grammar gives you no right to talk down to him as you did and I’m sure you was hated as an officer I can tell form this post your one of the officers that we would push infornt of us and not jump in front of you cause your one of them who thinks your better than everyone else

      1. See you had me so pissed you made me miss spell some words guess that makes you better than me also

    2. I was a Warrant Officer in the United States Army, and you sir have no respect and the way you talk to people is completely disrespectful. By the way you say you where a Non Commissioned Officer is not saying much, and nobody cares just like they don’t care I was a Warrant officer. He had questions looking for assistance not to be put down by someone who could have been a lazy buck SGT who couldn’t get promoted. You don’t like how I’m speaking to you, consider that when you speak to others in a positon of need. And not saying its not a accomplishment for those good Non Commissioned Officers who are the ones who deserve the title of Non Commissioned Officers, you are what we would just call Buck SGT…meaning knowledge less, good for nothing , and a waste of space…not a good image or representation of the backbone of the ARMY.

    3. Then my all means LaMar Please feel free do what this person as done and do something constructive as this Veteran did.
      Im more than sure you were a non-commissioned officer your attitude and or as will call it criticism shows it.
      Please feel free to be productive and not destructive.Lead by example LaMar and you send the time and rewrite this and complete all the sentences to it will fulfill your Superior intellect.
      I look forward hearing from you and your research and most of all your non commission wisdom on this subject.
      And sorry for my lack of journalistic skills as well. I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me.

  52. Dear Sirs: I have a question that needs an answer pronto. My Voc Rehab counselor tells me that I need a six-month certificate of sobriety. I asks if this is policy? If so, where can I find this policy? as I want to read it for myself? I’ve checked 38 CFR and have been unable tofind anything.

    Your assistance will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.



  53. my va voc rehab counselor refuses to extend me in this dumb assestment class she had me in, which was to be able to allow her to see if i could handle the work force, but i dont really want that. what i want from voc-rehab is to be able to go to school, or to get to help me start my own business. i recently been trying to talk to someone over her head because she is not helping me. i can hardly get her on the phone and when i do she forgets to take care of anything i ask her. i suffer from ptsd,panic attacks, clinical depression, i only have partial use of my right arm, because i was shot mulitible times, including two gunshots to my lowerback, resulting severe backpain, please help me to get on with my life. i would greatly apreciate any info u can share that u think may help, sincerely yours Lester mcneil.

    1. VA Voc Rehab counselors have the final say as to what your direction will be within the program. I would follow whatever she tells you to do and cooperate. Any Voc Rehab assessment will require you to complete it. And they are not stupid. Keep in mind, VA Voc Rehab Counselors have been training for many years on how to best handle disabled veterans. It’s always better to comply and be patient with the process.

  54. Hi,
    I am the spouse of a 100% disabled veteran who has been unemployed for 6months and interested in a “new career.” My spouse was awarded his disability in 2001. Is he still eligible for any type of help with vocational schools through Voc Rehab?

  55. There’s no working link in the last sentence of the second paragaph under the “fourth” set of discussion points. “Click here to get around this issue and attend Chicago (or Northwestern, or Stanford, or Harvard), if you want.”

    Would be interesting to read that article.

    Thanks for the help.

      1. Question:
        I still have 16 months of post 911 gi bill time left before it’s all used up. Let’s say I switch over to chapter 31. Do I still get the ch33 bah rate or do I get the ch31 bah rate (for example, I go to school in san francisco and the bah is over $3k/month, however ch31 bah is under $1k…that wouldn’t be smart if they forced me to choose the ch31 bah)? Even further, if I WOULD get the ch33 bah while on ch31, as soon as those 16 months run out (the time left on ch33) would they make me then receive the ch31 bah rate or would i continue getting the ch33 bah for the duration of my time on ch31 even though it surpasses the 16 months I had left for ch33?
        Finally, you referred to the “magic limit” of $25k… would not the bah alone (+$3/month) surpass this amount, much less the cost of tuition & fees?
        Thanks in advance

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