Top 4 Strategies When Your Voc Rehab Counselor Will Not Pay Tuition

Voc Rehab Counselor

Benjamin KrauseDisabled veterans have long been plagued with one unresponsive Voc Rehab Counselor after another without much room for recourse or means to encourage timely communications to pay things like tuition. This bit of advice tells you how to get your claim back on track if there is a breakdown in communication.

The problem of unresponsive VA employees related to tuition is not the only communication problem veterans face. Sometimes veterans fail to receive payment from their Voc Rehab Counselor for many things like books, supplies, etc. Sometimes they just do not talk to you at all. The list of reasons goes on and on.

Now that VA has taken a stronger stance on ethics, it is possible Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VRE) staff will be easier to work with. When they refuse, there are some concrete ways to encourage responsive dealings with your Voc Rehab Counselor.

Here is a problem a veteran recently posted on our Facebook group:

Concerned caregiver here…question: what to do when a counselor says they won’t pay for application fee for approved program in a contract they produced? What to do when the counselor refuses to approve payment for tuition, though already approved payment for books and supplies for the prerequisite classes on the approved program stated above (veteran is already attending the prerequisite courses)? Hope this makes sense….

Here are four ideas to help if your counselor is not responding to you. Keep in mind, sometimes VA processing take a lot of time, so be sure to call or email your counselor first. If you get an answer that he or she is just running a little late, take them at their word but be sure to document what they say.

What follows are some strategies if your counselor goes full MIA:

First, send the Voc Rehab Counselor a written letter that you mail certified mail with return receipt requested. This is my first go to and what I tell disabled veterans to do in my guide, The Voc Rehab Survival Guide. This is the best first step to ensure you document your request. It also sends a message to your VRE Counselor. The message is that you are serious and that you at least know that words are cheap unless it is written down. I cover how to write the letter in the guide.

Second, if you do not receive a response in one week, the next step is to contact the VRE Officer. The VRE Officer is the boss of your counselor and can give the counselor a little nudge if he or she is unresponsive. Check out our VRE Officer Directory to get the address and phone number of the person to speak with. Write the letter and send it certified mail with return receipt requested.

Third, file an ethics complaint with the VA OIG if you believe your Voc Rehab Counselor has violated any of the ethics laws relevant to VA officials. You need to focus on regulations in 38 CFR Part 0. Match portions of your case to what the regulations say. Then write up your complaint and mail it certified mail return receipt requested.

Fourth, you can file an ethics complaint with the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. If there are clear examples where the counselor is unresponsive, you will be able to file the complaint and hopefully make it stick. The commission will evaluate the complaint and get back to you if they need additional information. Send your complaint certified mail with return receipt requested.

Do you see the pattern here? Unless it is written down and you can prove its receipt, you will get nowhere with these people when there is a communication breakdown. Take matters into your own hands and get your claim onto the right track.

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  1. tl;dr.

    I went to take the physical to join the Marines but had a bad accident before that which prevented me from joining. Hence, I am not a “veteran” per se. But I am still having massive trouble getting Voc. Rehab. to stop stonewalling me. I have 2 years worth of law school completed and am only asking them to help me finish up but they refuse.

    Can you help in any way or is your help only for those duly admitted and honorably discharged? Thanks.

  2. I’m walking in tomorrow to see my counselor because they have not paid for this semester, and my school is not allowing me for the spring semester if this fall semester is not paid. I hope that she can fix it by this week or next, since my school only offers the classes I need in the spring semester, I would have to wait a whole year before going back to school if they fail to pay. Does anyone know if I pay for school with my credit card, would they reimburse me? And would they reimburse me the money that Fafsa paid for half of my tuition?

    1. I am constantly told V.R. does not reimburse for ANYTHING. However, I am constantly lied to. So take that with a grain of salt.

  3. The problem that I am facing is the employment part of the program which came after the VRE plan of action. These counselors that are assigned to us do virtually nothing for the time we go to school for our degree besides hoolding a few visits to allow them opportunity to keep their jobs as they must write a simple report here and there. Its only then, afterward when we need help to find a job opportunity to reinforce our degree with the needed experience to build a career when these so-called veteran representitives provide nothing worth squat. Very unsatisfied with this event,

    I’d say the VA should eliminate these counselors jobs all together and let veterans request educational benefits and funds online on their own merit through a financial website. That would be no difference to the veterans plans it would just be an hour to fill out our own monthly report alone and send it in electronically.

    All those inept couselors and directors that are protecting their cushy “do-nothing” job can go out in the same slow economy we face and they can find a more suitable career that would use their lazy credability. When these VA reps work delivering pizza or doing retail sales its only then that they would realize how easy they have it, with their inflated government funding as they enjoy casual lush lifestyles -why? They do nothing altruistic for the veterans and we do everything altuistic for our country!

  4. Sad state of affairs, been in the Oakland area for over 14 years, I had one, only one good counselor, Dr. Norman Corson, after him, it was a wrap. The lady named Bobbi, forget about it, brick wall. Then had Andy Kaiser, forget about it, Brick wall, email him time after time and he said he never got emails and I found him to be Racist.

  5. Okay clearly they want to play ball, I am ready. All I am asking for is a computer with large screen monitor due to being blind in one eye and not perfect vision in the other. A ergonomically bariactric tallboy chair, A ergonomically lift desk.

    The first counselor tried to make me feel like crap saying you mean your applying for voc rehab and want to go to school on line and don’t have a computer. I states yes, i studied voc rehab and it states you would supply it.

    Then I send her an email discussing my problems with them and she says, well if you need a special chair and desk that is ILS and we may need to re-eval you. I think told her or read her the M28r. I have a new counselor, I started school on the fifth and am having to rent a computer. I sent a certified letter they received this a.m. but have not gotten back with me.

    They need to contact me by tomorrow or I will send a letter to the head of Voc rehab and anyone else I can fine.

    They have lied to me, tried to make me feel like a piece of shit and are up for a battle.

    I don’t get why they think they can fight Disabled Veterans, we have been fighting a long time one way or another and I nor my friends would give up. So bring it on.

    Below is taken from parts of m28r

    4.03 General Information
    Supplies that VA determines are necessary for the Veteran’s rehabilitation
    program are provided to enable a Veteran to pursue rehabilitation and achieve
    the goals of his/her program. Supplies necessary to accomplish the purposes of
    a Veteran’s rehabilitation program may include, but are not limited to, the
    • Books
    • Office supplies (e.g., paper; ink/toner; pens, pencils and markers; binders;
    tape; envelopes; shredders; anti-glare/anti-radiation screens [VDT]; and
    ergonomic products)

    4.04 Policy
    a. Determining When Supplies are Needed
    VA must provide a Veteran with all the supplies, including consumable
    supplies that the Veteran needs for a program of rehabilitation services. In
    accordance with 38 CFR 21.210 through 21.222, VA may authorize supplies
    only under the following conditions:
    1. Individuals who do not have a disability use the supplies in the same
    training or employment situation.
    2. The supplies are used to mitigate or compensate for the effects of the
    Veteran’s disability while he/she is being evaluated, trained, or assisted in
    gaining employment. This includes supplies to lessen a competitive
    disadvantage with other students or job seekers.
    3. The supplies are used to allow the Veteran to function more
    independently and to lessen his/her dependence on others.

    • The item is generally owned and used by all students pursuing the course.
    • Students who do not have the item would be placed at a distinct
    disadvantage in pursuing the course.

    4.06 Providing Supplies for Special Programs
    a. Training in the Home
    VA may provide the following supplies to Veterans training in the home:
    1. Books, tools and supplies required by all facilities that train individuals for
    the Veteran’s objective, whether the training is at home or outside of the
    2. Supplies and equipment that are essential because the Veteran is pursuing
    training at home. Equipment in this category may consist of items that
    are not required by facilities that train outside of the home.
    3. Special equipment, such as a vise or drafting table.
    4. Supplies needed to enable the Veteran to function more independently in
    his/her home and community.

    1. What ever you do make sure you keep a log of everything!

      Date, time, place and who you speak with and never think that you don’t have to!

      If you can record your conversation do so, you may need all of these notes and recording for when they try and call you a lyier!

      The department of veterans affairs has done this very same thing to many other veterans and yes never give up!

      Don’t yell or raise your voice, be the nicest you can be, that will be your ace in the hole, if and when they try to accuse you of being disruptive!

      Don’t fall for their tactic of labeling you as disruptive! This tactic is happening way to often and once you’re on the list, they will make your life a living hell!

      Please keep notes!

      1. I bought a small voice recorder today just for that. I am hoping they call me up and gang up on me. Texas is a one person consent state, meaning just one person needs to consent to a voice recording and I get my full consent. I also downloaded a program showing when they open my emails. Many opened and may not answered.

    2. They received the certified letter yesterday and have not called or emailed yet. They may send something in the mail. I will wait till Tuesday to find out, then begin the war. I know they will start it in motion though just have to give them time.

    3. Well James here is your follow up.
      Had my secret recorder on, it looks like a usb flash.
      I met a man by the, well guess I better not say his name so I will call him Joe.

      Joe is fairly young, about 36, i think he told, with one of those voices you know you can trust. Very at ease.

      First thing he said. I like this, I said what, me still waiting for a fight to come. He said, I like that you know your stuff. I said a guy on the web named Ben Krause told me. He chuckled as if he knew the name.

      He then began to tell me to forget what I sent him and asked me what I needed, I told him, just a computer that can run adobe and other high end projects with a large screen monitor for my eyesight. I am blind in one eye. A ergonomical desk and chair for my back and knees.

      He said well I see the letter from the Doc so that takes care of that. Now we have to get a statement from prothestics saying they won’t supply it. I quickly told him I had an email they told me they would not on myhealth account. He said that would work.

      Then he said that I needed to go to amazon and find the computer I want and the chair and desk and send that to him with a screen shot of the email. He did say that if I pick a 3000 computer and stuff like that they would probably deny it.

      So I picked a 700.00 computer package. the chair was 200 and desk was only 100 bucks. So I just emailed him the info and do not think I will have a problem and here is why.

      He is a disabled Air force guy, medically discharged and a 100 percent disabled vet. He went through Voc rehab himself and while going through school he felt he could do a better job as a counselor than most since he was in the same situation.

      I told him about my first counselor and he said just forget about everyone else. They don’t like to do paperwork.

      He has 279 veterans on his caseload and he is that nice.

      The tip he gave me I already knew because I read it from Ben. So called Joe said, if you have documentation that something will help you and you send me the information on the product. I will put it in for you and 99 percent of the time we can get it.

      Then he again reiterated. Now if you tell me you need a smart pen and pick out a 1000.00 pen they will probably deny it. You pick a 99 dollar pen out and you will get it.

      My stomach was in knots for nothing, and how lucky can I get to have a disabled vet and medically retired Air Force combat vet that went though Voc Rehab himself on my side.

      1. Only one more thing for you to do GRADUATE! I’m really happy for you and great to know a fellow veteran was able to help you! Let us all know when you complete your education! Good job to you also Ben!

      2. I will James, forgot to mention, I told him that I was wondering if he could get a coding boot camp passed also with school, since school is primarily theory and the bootcamp would help me become more of a at home worker which is what I want. He said If I had the documentation he would fight for it.
        I know I will graduate, I have a nursing degree, and can not believe how much I remember from previous school. they would not accept alot of credits since they were 30 years old and no syllabus exists.

        Thanks James for your replys. I really like a good fight. Sort of glad I don’t have too though.

    1. They did not respond to my letter or emails. although I am tracking on email open software and they have opened my emails. They signed for the certified letter on the 8th but as of the 13th had not responded.

      I will not post the email that I sent for my own reasons, but I will say that I basically asked why I have not received my supplies for school yet. They had the doctors notes and the information needed to make an informed decision.

      Also I would like to point out the M28R says you need at least a 10 percent disability, I have 30, but it also says, you should be given supplies needed to make you more adaptable to the learning process, so if Joe Blow has no disabilities, then you should have what is needed to make you as competitive as him. It does not say the disabilities have to be all rated ones.

      With that said, I told them they were not allowing my full potential in school, that the VA OIG reports shows there is a 82 percent FAILURE rate and I wanted to be the 18 percent that made it. I also asked for addresses and names of the regional office, as well as the federal office and the organizations that govern them in the state of Texas as Counselors. I stated, they have did nothing to supply me with the ADA equipment I needed, that really did not need to be in there, but I wanted them thinking about denying me equipment due to the American Disabilities Act. Just a coin I am trying to use. I also explained how the first counselor tried to belittle me by stating “You mean you don’t have a laptop and you expect to go to a Online School” I explained in all information that I did not need one and chapter 31 would supply it. Then I stated when she said something to the effect… You mean you need a special desk and chair, we may need to re-evaluated you for ILS. I told them I considered that harassment since I need it to study properly and if I was in a Institution learning they would supply it. M28R states your home can be your training site, so I need this for my training site.

      I could actually graduate from a bachelors in less than a year. I am honestly thinking about law though. Ben has made me realize by his writings we need more watchdogs and people to fight for other Veterans that can not properly fight for themselves. It is a thought though and nothing more yet.

      I sent that yesterday at about 4 pm or so. I got a prompt reply this morning via email and have set a meeting up for tomorrow after my VA appointment. I am assuming they will demeanor me and bully me. I will be ready with a smile while taking notes the whole time, plus a few more things.

      Who knows I may be wrong and they may understand they are not helping me and try to help. He is a new counselor and I do not want to fight.

      I am though a disabled veteran, and I will fight like we always do. It is our way of life. It is my pursuit of happiness.

      I have never thought the government OWES me anything, but if they offer me something then blatantly lie about it and try to make me fail at it. Then it is fight on!

      Thank you for reading.

      1. Prove them wrong Nick get your education and when you’re done, it would be nice if someone like you would gain the knowledge to help others!

  6. I called the Voc Rehab OIC and got IMMEDIATE results!!!! Check this out, this was sent this MORNING!!

    Hi Mr. Raulfestone,

    I received a message that you called regarding your Voc Rehab case. My supervisor signed off on the retroactive induction form today (to cover payment u made out of pocket and monthly subsistence allowance) and I gave the case to the Case Manager to review to get concurrence. If he agrees with your Voc Rehab plan we both will schedule a date/time to meet with you to sign your Voc Rehab plan.

    Wendy Hughes, M.S., CRC

    Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

    Department of VA, VR&E Office

    3333 N. Central Avenue

    Phoenix, AZ 85012

    Office #: (602) 627-3219

    Fax #: (602) 627-2804

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