The promise with Voc Rehab: Chapter 31 is that it will retrain disabled veterans into a vocation or profession, and the veteran will find substantive employment. When you find that job, after working successfully, you will receive 2 months of stipend money from Voc Rehab. After 60 days on the job, Voc Rehab will declare you to be “rehabilitated.” According to 38 CFR Part 21, “rehabilitated to the point of employability” means the following: “that the veteran is employable in an occupation for which a vocational rehabilitation program has been provided under this program.”
This seems rather straightforward for anyone reading the regulations. Chapter 31 Voc Rehab Counselors should be on top of what the regulations mean. The benefit to the counselor once “rehabilitation” is reached: they get to check off the case from their totals. Each Regional Office gets dinged for open cases, so there is a push to close cases out. Again, this seems pretty simple to most disabled veterans, counselors and anyone reading the definitions.
However, in reality, many counselors are using the small stipend amount as a carrot for disabled veterans to rush out to find employment in any field, both part-time and full-time. Doing this prevents veterans from taking the time to find appropriate jobs for which they trained and can damage their ability to have rewarding careers in the long run. And, more importantly, it can cheat many qualified veterans from receiving further educational benefits that would make them more competitive in the labor market.
Options. If there is a need for additional training for the veteran to become competitive in the field outlined within their IWRP, the counselor has the ability to approve the new plan. Recently, I received another email from a disabled veteran struggling to get answers from his Voc Rehab Counselor. The counselor was using the stipend to push the veteran into finding part-time work in an unrelated field, contrary to the intent of the program. The program is supposed to help the disabled veteran find substantive work in the field, or related field, for which they received training. If the veteran is unable to achieve this, they can accept work in an unrelated field, and be deemed rehabilitated, so long as the veteran agrees with the decision and says they like the job. Read over 38 CFR Part 21.283.
Silver Bullet. Yes, you have the ability to control the direction of the Silver Bullet. We all need money to live on. If the only job you can find is unrelated to your training, you must tell the counselor that the new job fits within your “aptitudes, abilities and interests.” If you tell the counselor you hate the job, guess what? The job does not fit with your interests. Thus, you cannot be deemed to be “rehabilitated.”
If you are being pushed, you need to read over the regulations. I successfully appealed a wrongful determination of “rehabilitated.” To read how I did it, view our Appeals Guide #4. This walks you through what I did. Now, Chapter 31 Voc Rehab is paying for me to attend Law School to become an Attorney. You are your best advocate. Don’t get pushed around. Click here to read how I pushed back.