Did you know…
There is good news and bad news for many disabled Veterans. First, the good news: many years ago the Department of Veterans Affairs established the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) VetSuccess Program (also known as the Chapter 31 program). Its aim is to help individuals who became disabled while serving our country in the armed forces obtain employment.
The bad news is that many disabled Veterans who could use this program don’t even know it exists.
If you are an individual on active duty, you’re eligible for this program if you’ll be discharged honorably and you have a memorandum rating of 20% or more from the VA. If you are a Veteran, as long as you weren’t dishonorably discharged and you have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10%, or a memorandum rating of 20% or more from the VA, you‘re eligible.
A Disabled Veteran can take advantage of Chapter 31 for twelve years from the end of service or from the time when you are first notified by the VA of a service-connected disability rating. This period is subject to extension, in certain cases, depending on the severity of the disability as determined by a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC).
Vocational Rehabilitation programs were established with the specific aim of providing Veterans with the training necessary to acquire the skills to work, to find jobs they’re able to do and to keep the jobs once they’re hired. If the Veteran’s disability is too severe to allow for employment, VR&E can assist you to live as independently as possible.
What a Hero Deserves
Before applying for the VR&E program, you should know, as a Veteran, you may be eligible for disability compensation provided by the VA. These VA disability benefits, tax-free, by the way, are for Veterans who have sustained injuries or became ill while on active duty. These benefits are also available to eligible Veterans whose injury or illness became worse while on active duty as well as for Veterans who became disabled as a result of health care from the VA.
You are eligible for VA disability benefits so long as you were disabled while serving in the armed forces, in some capacity, and were honorably discharged. The benefit amount provided varies depending on the extent and severity of the disability. VA disability benefits may be worth more if you have lost a limb, have been severely disabled, have a spouse with a severe disability or have a spouse, children and/or parents who depend on you.
How to Get What You Deserve
Once you’ve determined you’re eligible for the VR&E Program, you will next be given an appointment to meet with a VRC for evaluation. The goal here is to discover what your best plan of action will be for job training and, ultimately, gaining employment and/or achieving maximum independence at home and in the Veterans’ community.
If it is determined, following the evaluation, you are eligible, you and your counselor work together to find a job that best suits you. Everything is taken into consideration. This includes not just skills you already have, but skills you may need, how to get training to obtain these skills, your interests, your abilities as well as restrictions, and even an evaluation of the current market place and what’s actually out there in the job market.
A rehabilitation plan is next put in place. This plan is individualized and optimized in order that it can be used to meet the ultimate goal of gaining the most fitting employment for you. Working with your counselor, be assured, is an ongoing process, providing you the assistance and services you need, like training in job-seeking skills, medical and dental referrals, and much more, for as long as you are part of the Chapter 31 program.
For financial compensation or VA disability benefits, you simply apply by filling out VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension. Include any relevant forms you have, such as a DD214 or equivalent (discharge papers), a marriage certificate and any children’s birth certificates for proof of dependants, with your application.
Most importantly, be sure you to provide all pertinent medical information, including, but not limited to, doctor’s notes, prescriptions, hospital records, and any other relevant documentation that explains the condition of your health. This includes all information regarding your disability – how you came to get it, what it is, its severity, etc.
Ready to Claim YOUR VA Disability Benefits for Voc Rehab?
Using Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment is more than just a typical straight forward Veterans’ Benefit. It’s not the GI Bill. It’s not the VA Home Loan. Both of these programs have a lot of information published about them online and in guides. The programs are what they are. Veterans get a certain amount of money or loan insurance. There is no great mystery.
[box_tip]The VA publishes very little about the Voc Rehab. That’s why you need to read the Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans[/box_tip]