People in the military get hurt, it’s part of the job. Whether in combat, combat-support or performance of normal duties, injuries happen every day. Some of these injuries are so severe that they cause permanent disability and can even end a military career.
For these disabled veterans, there is Vocational Rehabilitation, an earned veteran benefit to which (nearly) ALL disabled veterans are entitled. For these veterans, we created the Voc Rehab Survival Guide.
Congress authorized the Vocational Rehabilitation program to assist Veterans with service-connected disabilities to prepare for, find, and keep suitable employment. For Veterans with service-connected disabilities so severe that they cannot immediately consider work, Vocational Rehabilitation offers services to improve their ability to live as independently as possible.
The VA (Veterans Administration) provides the funding, service and management of Vocational Rehabilitation through a program called VetSuccess. This VetSuccess program provides for:
- Comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation to determine abilities, skills, and interests for employment
- Vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment services
- Employment services such as job-training, job-seeking skills, resume development, and other work readiness assistance
- Assistance finding and keeping a job, including the use of special employer incentives and job accommodations
- On the Job Training (OJT), apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
- Post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical or business school
- Supportive rehabilitation services including case management, counseling, and medical referrals
- Independent living services for Veterans unable to work due to the severity of their disabilities
Who is Eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation?
Active Duty personnel are eligible if they expect an honorable discharge upon separation, apply for and receive a memorandum rating of 20% or more from the VA, and apply for the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) VetSuccess program.
Disabled Veterans are eligible if they have received a discharge that is other than dishonorable, have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10%, or a memorandum rating of 20% or more from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), and have applied for the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) VetSuccess program
Whether you are Active Duty or a veteran, you need to know that that this is NOT an automatic benefit. You need to take steps to get the benefit – you need to APPLY for it!
Period of Eligibility
You have 12 years to use your VR&E VetSuccess services, starting from your date of separation from active military service, or the date you’re notified by the VA with your service-connected disability rating.
You can get the period of eligibility extended if a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) determines that you have a serious employment handicap.
Eligibility VS Entitlement!!!!
So, you’ve been in the military so you know that being eligible and being entitled (and actually RECEIVING) benefits are two different things.
It’s time to jump through some hoops.
The first hoop is meeting with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) for a comprehensive evaluation to determine if you’re entitled to services. The evaluation includes:
- Assessment of your interests, aptitudes, and abilities
- Assessment of whether service connected disabilities impair your ability to find or hold a job using the occupational skills you’ve developed
- Vocational exploration and goal development leading to employment or maximum independence at home and in your community.
What does all that mean? You gotta prove that you’re disabled, and that you know what you want to do with your vocational rehabilitation.
The second hoop is the entitlement determination.
The entitlement determination is where the VA counselor determines whether or not you have an employment handicap. You have an employment handicap if your serviceprelated disability impairs your ability to get or keep a job.
Now, if you disability rating is under 20%, or if your 12 year period of eligibility expired, then you’ll need to qualify for a serious employment handicap.
And if that seems just a little daunting to you, then you’re in the right place.
We’re here to help.