Take away for disabled veterans: when you push for what you want you will usually succeed. Never give up pushing for a viable Vocational Rehabilitation goal.
Here is what happened when I pushed my Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor:
- Undergrad degree: Economics
- Time since Voc Rehab: 10 months
- Previous employment was outside of IWRP
- Unemployed: 6 months
- Jobs applied to: 60
- New IWRP that Voc Rehab pushed: MBA
- New IWRP that I pushed: Law School
Overview of my second Voc Rehab experience
I came back to Voc Rehab after losing my job within 10 months of being declared “rehabilitated” by my new counselor. My file disclosed that Voc Rehab will pay for things like Law School, MBA, MSW, etc.
During my first meeting, the counseling psychologist told me I did not qualify for additional VA Voc Rehab benefits. I asked why and he looked a little surprised. His decision would be based on 38 CFR Part 21.284. In order to qualify for additional benefits, I needed to either have a worsening of my disabilities to where I could not perform the tasks and/or need more training due to changes in technology.
Neither of these applied to me directly, though my disability rating had increased.
My own Voc Rehab work-around
After handing me copies of the regulations, I realized what my next step needed to be. I needed to appeal Voc Rehab’s declaration that I was correctly “rehabilitated” based on the fact that I had never agreed that working within the Insurance Industry fit my interest.
The second was that working within the Insurance Industry did not require using my education/training received from my Voc Rehab training.
The last was that my degree, Economics, doesn’t necessarily have a direct “business world” translation within the Portland job market. Here, the companies look to hire analysts with specific business or finance degrees. So, I would require more training to find work in the region.
Voc Rehab Rule #2
Always ask what regulation any Voc Rehab decision is being based on.
Many times, they will never be able to tell you and may be surprised. Perhaps, by just asking, they will reverse their position.
In my case, I filed an internal appeal with the Voc Rehab Counselor, since it was within one year. He overturned his decision for both of the reasons I provided. He also told me I was the first person he had ever heard of appealing their “rehabilitated” status.
The next step was finding what career path I would follow. The Voc Rehab Counselor told me he would never approve an IWRP goal of Lawyer. Further, in order to even be approved for the law track, the school would need to have a success rate of 70%. Notice, there is no such thing as a success rate for Law Schools. It does not exist in any rating anywhere. This is an example of a little “road block” Voc Rehab folks like to throw disabled veterans. A kind of typical Voc Rehab curveball.
After a lot of work and research, I pushed for the Law School track anyway. The Voc Rehab Counselor read over my data and finally approved my training track, after 3 months of pushing.
One note, since the counselor did not give me criteria in determining a “success rate,” I just made up my own way to calculate it. Don’t ever give up. When possible, contort your situation to make it the best for you, just like your lawyer would in a divorce. Leave it up to the counselor to rebut your claim and don’t prove their case for them.
And that is it. Check out more on Benjamin Krause here.