VA Vocational Rehabilitation Definitions

Veterans should not ignore certain VA Vocational Rehabilitation key terms and their definitions when fighting for veterans from the agency.

In the military, we were inundated with new terms. Everything had an acronym. And, if you did not know the terms or acronyms, someone’s life might be at risk.

While seeking your VA benefits, the stakes are different – the life or benefits at risk are always your own. Despite the different stakes, the programs you seek benefits from all have key terms and acronyms you should learn, too.

RELATED: VA Education Program Pays $300,000

Most VA employees managing the VA Voc Rehab program will not expect you to know what the key terms are, and having a handle on these key terms will set you apart from unsuspecting veterans merely going through the motions.

This page of definitions will help you learn the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Voc Rehab) lingo you need to know. Like the five employment tracks, the definitions are key to your success and often misused by VA employees.

What follows are summary definitions to get you moving but be sure you check cases and appeals to get the full legal definition of each term if you need to fight a denial.

RELATED: Quick Facts You Need To Know When Applying For VA Vocational Rehabilitation

Top VA Voc Rehab Definitions


A term applied to a veteran or servicemember who qualifies for or is entitled to VR&E benefits based on a service-connected disability rating but whose employment handicap has yet to be determined.

Example: You are Eligible for benefits from Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment.

Employment Handicap (EH)

An impairment of a veteran or servicemember’s ability to prepare for, obtain, or retain employment consistent with his or her abilities, aptitudes, and interests. For Veterans within the 12-year basic period of eligibility and rated at 20 percent or more, a finding of employment handicap results in entitlement to VR&E services.

Example: You are not entitled to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits because you do not have an Employment Handicap. Your service-connected disabilities do not substantially interfere with your ability to obtain and maintain suitable employment.

Rehabilitation Plan

A written, detailed outline of services provided under the VR&E program. It may include a description of services such as reemployment with a previous employer, rapid access to employment, self-employment, on-the-job training, or independent living services.

Example: We will now work together, since you are entitled to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits, to develop your Rehabilitation Plan.

Examples of a Rehabilitation Plan Voc Rehab uses are:

  • Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan (IWRP)
  • Individualized Employment Assistance Plan (IEAP)
  • Individualized Extended Evaluation Plan (IEEP)
  • Individualized Independent Living Plan (IILP)

RELATED: Learn About The Five Voc Rehab Training Tracks

Serious Employment Handicap (SEH)

A significant impairment of a veteran or servicemember’s ability to prepare for, obtain, or retain employment consistent with his or her abilities, aptitudes, and interests. The SEH must result in substantial part from a service-connected disability. For Veterans rated at 10 percent and Veterans beyond their 12-year basic period of eligibility, the finding of a SEH is necessary to establish entitlement to VR&E services.

Example: You are entitled to an extension of benefits beyond 48 months because you have a Serious Employment Handicap.

Suitable Employment

Employment that does not aggravate the veteran or servicemember’s disabilities, is stable, and is consistent with his or her pattern of abilities, aptitudes, and interests. The generalized goal of Voc Rehab is to assist the veteran to obtain suitable employment.

Example: You are not entitled to benefits from Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment because you have a bachelors degree and are qualified for Suitable Employment.

Transferable Skills

Reasonably developed skills, knowledge, and abilities attained through training and experience (civilian and military) that relate to current employment opportunities in the labor market.

Example: You are not eligible for benefits because your education and Transferable Skills indicate you are qualified for suitable employment.

RELATED: Get A Copy Of Your Voc Rehab File

VA Voc Rehab Employee Types Who Will Decide Your Claim

Case Manager (CM)

A rehabilitation professional responsible for oversight of all services provided to a program participant. The CM provides direct services in those areas in which he or she has expertise and monitors others that may provide supportive or related services.

Employment Coordinator (EC)

The employment coordinator helps veterans find employment as part of their rehabilitation program. Generally, veterans will work with an employment coordinator after they complete training.

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC)

A VRC is a rehabilitation professional who provides or coordinates a wide range of rehabilitation services that might include counseling, training, rehabilitation, and employment services.

RELATED: Biggest Lies Voc Rehab Counselors Tell Veterans

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Officer (VREO)

The VREO is the responsible manager in charge of all Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and other support staff at a regional office. A VREO is usually a VRC who is promoted after working in VA Voc Rehab for a number of years. The VREO is responsible for approving rehabilitation plans that cost over $25,000.

Director of VRE Service

The director of VRE Service is responsible for the entire Voc Rehab program, budget, and policy implemented to support the mission of the program. The director will decide all Administrative Reviews related to basic entitlement and Advisory Opinions.

RELATED: How To Get Your Voc Rehab Claim Denied

VA Vocational Rehabilitation, Education Or Training Programs

Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Voc Rehab)

The VR&E program is authorized by Congress under Title 38 of the United States Code, Chapter 31. It is sometimes referred to as the Chapter 31 program. VR&E helps Veterans and Servicemembers with service-connected disabilities and an employment handicap prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable careers.

Chapter 33 GI Bill

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is authorized by Congress under Title 38 of the United States Code, Chapter 33. The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to people with at least 90 days of continuous service after September 10, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days of continuous service after September 10, 2001.

Chapter 36

VR&E provides a wide range of education and career counseling to Veterans, Servicemembers, and eligible family members who are entitled to or participating in a VA education benefit program. These services are authorized by Congress under Title 38 of the United States Code, Chapter 36.

These services help the individual identify a career goal and choose an educational program to reach that goal. Counseling may also be provided to assist the student in overcoming barriers to academic success. Services include:

  • Career Choice – understand the best career options for you based on your interests and capabilities
  • Benefits Coaching – guidance on the effective use of your VA benefits and/or other resources to achieve your education and career goals
  • Personalized Support – academic or adjustment counseling and personalized support to help you remove any barriers to your success

Other Retraining Resource Definitions

Veterans Employment Center (VEC)

Veterans Employment Center on is a website that helps Veterans, Servicemembers, and eligible family members build meaningful careers by linking Veterans with employers interested in hiring them through an online employment portal.

VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC)

Colleges and universities that partner with VR&E host a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, sometimes referred to as a VSOC Counselor. These counselors are available to provide informal career guidance, advice, and information and referral for all student Veterans and Servicemembers. VSOC Counselors are valuable resources to assist student Veterans and Servicemembers in successfully navigating through their academic program.

RELATED: Rehabilitation Program Blocks Entrepreneurial Veterans