It is official. VA Vocational Rehab does pay for moving in certain situations, and here they are.
One veteran wrote in last week asking about this rumor that VA might pay for moving expenses. Initially, I was going to tell him “no” but thought I should check the new M28R first. Not only was I wrong, but I also realized my old VR&E counselor in Portland lied to me when he said VR&E does not cover moving.
VA will pay for a veteran to move. You might have to get creative with how to justify some of your expenses, but to say VA flatly does not pay for a move is a lie.
Lie, lie, lie.
But let’s define what “moving” means, exactly. What I mean, and what I was told VA would not do, is to move my body from one location to another by any means necessary – my car, a rental car, plane, it did not matter, or so I was told. As you read the following “guidance” from the M28R, ask yourself what it does likely mean and what it doesn’t likely mean.
When I think of moving in my last experience, I think of the gas and hotel expense of traveling between Oregon and Minnesota. When you move somewhere, do you not bring your car? What if your car was a rented cargo van or suburban? Could a spouse and a lot of things fit in any vehicle you use?
The likely answer for these questions is “yes.”
Now, the “moving” I am referring to is not the same as the cushy, all expense paid, “moving” we all received in the military. Instead, it is more like what normal people get to deal with, which is fine since we are all civilians once again.
Here is the exact excerpt from the new M28R as of 02/04/14. It is on page 125 in the PDF download on my site:
3.06 Veteran’s Transfer Expenses
a. Interregional Transfer at Government Expense
A Veteran may need to transfer from the jurisdiction of one VA facility to another in order to accomplish rehabilitation. Travel is limited to Veteran’s transportation and does not include transportation for the Veteran’s dependents or for moving personal effects. The case manager must approve the travel prior to authorization. Authorization of travel at government expense is allowed under the following conditions as outlined in 38 CFR 21.372:
- To enter training in the nearest satisfactory facility.
- To enter training in the state in which the Veteran has long-standing family and social ties and in which he/she plans to live following rehabilitation.
- To report to an employer/trainer when all necessary steps have been taken to establish an on-the-job training program. To report to a rehabilitation facility.
- To return to his/her home from a place of training if training is not available for a period of 30 days or more and travel from his/her home to the place of training or rehabilitation services was at government expense.
- To return to the place of training or rehabilitation from his/her home when the purpose of travel is to continue training or rehabilitation services and travel to the place of training or rehabilitation services to the Veteran’s home was at government expense.
- To return to the point from which he/she was transferred at government expense upon being assigned to Discontinued (DIS) or INT status for any reason, except abandonment of training by the Veteran without good reason.
- To report for satisfactory employment or a prearranged employment interview following completion of a program of vocational rehabilitation when there are no satisfactory employment opportunities in the Veteran’s jurisdiction and the Veteran has a Serious Employment Handicap (SEH).
- To return to his/her home, if transferred at government expense to pursue training, when, upon completion of his/her course of study, satisfactory employment is not available.
- To return to the location from which he/she traveled without authorization because VA did not issue the necessary travel authorization on a timely basis.
b. Intraregional Transfer at Government Expense
A Veteran may need to transfer within the jurisdiction of an RO to accomplish rehabilitation. Travel is limited to Veteran’s transportation and does not include transportation for the Veteran’s dependents or for moving personal effects.
The case manager must approve the travel prior to authorization. The procedure for travel authorization is the same as authorization for beneficiary travel using VAF 3542. Authorization of travel at government expense is allowed under the following conditions as outlined in 38 CFR 21.370:
- To report to a prospective employer/trainer for an interview.
- To report to a school or training facility for a personal interview that is required by the school as a condition for admission.
- To report to a rehabilitation facility.
- To return home from the training or rehabilitation facility when services are not available for 30 days or more and travel from home to the training or rehabilitation facility was at government expense.
- To return to the training or rehabilitation facility from home when the purpose of travel is to continue the rehabilitation program and travel from the training or rehabilitation facility to the Veteran’s home was at government expense.
- To return to the point from which he/she was transported at government expense upon being assigned to DIS or INT status for any reason, except abandonment of training by the Veteran without good reason.
- To report to a place of prearranged employment upon completion of vocational rehabilitation for the purpose of beginning work.
- To return home from the place of training following rehabilitation to the point of employability when suitable employment is not available.
- To return from the place of training to the Veteran’s prior location, when VA could have approved travel to the place of training at government expense, but did not issue the necessary travel authorization.
- To report for a scheduled examination required in practicing the trade or profession for which the Veteran has been trained. If there is more than one possible test site, travel is limited to the nearest location.
I think the good rule of thumb would be that VA will not pay one penny more than it would pay for you to move with the bare essentials you need.
My more creative read of this is that VA will pay for you to move your body and whatever you can bring along with it in whatever vehicle you choose to use to transport yourself to the new location. This makes sense.
After all, it seems to defy common sense that they would allow you to move but not bring at least some things with you like your auto, a computer, clothes, you know, things you need to complete your training. If one were to truly stick to their language, it would be easy to conclude that VA would require you to transfer naked. In light of VA’s other ridiculous conclusions, this may seem in the ballpark for some. But, whatever you do, don’t show up naked, because it is illegal.
What seems reasonable is that VA does intend for you to bring what you need to conduct training at the new location. While they may not pay for a moving company to hold your hand and pack all your things, it would appear that they would condone you at least jamming your car full of stuff.
It seems reasonable as well that you should be able to fit a spouse and other odds and ends into a truck or suburban with a trailer attached to the back side.
Buy the trailer at whatever location you are in. Sell it when you get to the new location. Abracadabra. So long as VA pays your gas, they technically paid for you and whatever you brought with you to move from one location to another.
While not perfect, not much in life is. Suck it up and be creative with your options when faced with a VA mandate like “no personal effects” and “no dependents.”