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Chapter 3 Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)

Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E): sometimes referred to as the Chapter 31 program. VR&E provides services to eligible Servicemembers and Veterans with service-connected disabilities to help them prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable employment or achieve independence in daily living. Additional information is available at www.vetsuccess.gov.

Eligibility for Veterans: A Veteran must have a VA service-connected disability rated at least 20 percent with an employment handicap, or rated 10 percent with a serious employment handicap, and be discharged or released from military service under other than dishonorable conditions.

Eligibility for Servicemembers: Servicemembers are eligible to apply if they expect to receive an honorable discharge upon separation from active duty, obtain a rating of 20 percent percent or more from VA, obtain a proposed Disability Evaluation System (DES) rating of 20 percent percent or more from VA, or obtain a referral to a Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES).

Entitlement: A Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) works with the Veteran to determine if an employment handicap exists. An employment handicap exists if a Veteran's service- connected disability impairs his/her ability to prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable career employment. After an entitlement decision is made, the Veteran and VRC work together to develop a rehabilitation plan. The rehabilitation plan outlines the rehabilitation services to be provided.

Services: Based on their individualized needs, Veterans work with a VRC to select one of five vocational tracks of services. If a program of training is selected, the VA pays the cost of the approved training and services (except those coordinated through other providers) that are included in an individual's rehabilitation plan, including subsistence allowance.

VR&E's five tracks of services are:

  • Reemployment with Previous Employer: For individuals who are separating from active duty or in the National Guard or Reserves and are returning to work for their previous employer.
  • Rapid Access to Employment: For individuals who either wish to obtain employment soon after separation or who already have the necessary skills to be competitive in the job market in an appropriate occupation.
  • Self-Employment: For individuals who have limited access to traditional employment, need flexible work schedules, or who require more accommodation in the work environment due to their disabling conditions or other life circumstances.
  • Employment Through Long-Term Services: For individuals who need specialized training and/or education to obtain and maintain suitable employment.
  • Independent Living Services: For Veterans who are not currently able to work and need rehabilitation services to live more independently.

Length of a Rehabilitation Program: The basic period of eligibility in which VR&E benefits may be used is 12 years from the latter of the following:

  1. A Veteran's date of separation from active military service, or
  2. The date VA first notified a Veteran that he/she have a compensable service-connected disability. Depending on the length of program needed, Veterans may be provided up to 48 months of full-time services or the part-time equivalent. Rehabilitation plans that only provide services to improve independence in daily living are limited to 30 months. These limitations may be extended in certain circumstances.

Intergrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES): VR&E is providing earlier access to VR&E benefits to wounded, ill or injured Servicemembers pending a medical separation from military service. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors are assigned to military installations hosting an IDES site and provide VR&E services to assist Servicemembers in the transition from active-duty to entering the labor market in viable careers.

Current locations include: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Ft. Wainwright, Ft. Benning, Ft. Gordon, Robins AFB, Ft. Meade, Ft. Drum, BeauFt. NH, Ft. Jackson, Ft. Carson, Tripler AMC, Pearl Harbor NH, San Antonio JB (Sam Houston), Ft. Irwin, Ft. Knox, White-River Junction, Pensacola NH, Ft. Rucker, Redstone Arsenal, Ft. Sill, Sheppard AFB, Ft. Campbell, Ft. Polk, Travis AFB, Ft. Huachuca, Nellis AFB, Ft. Eustis, Portsmouth NMC, Ft. Lee, Langley JB, San Diego Navy Medical Center (Balboa), Ft. Lewis, Kitsap Naval Base, Fairchild AFB, Ft. Lewis (JB Lewis McChord), Ft. Leonard Wood, Jacksonville NH, Ft. Bliss, Ft. Hood, Bethesda NNMC/Walter Reed AMC, Andrews AFB, Ft. Belvoir, MCB Quantico, Ft. Riley, Camp Lejuene, Ft. Bragg, Seymour-Johnson AFB, and Cherry Point NH.

VetSuccess.gov: See page 57.

Work-Study Program: Refer to Chapter 5, "Education and Training"

Educational and Vocational Counseling Services: Refer to Chapter 10, "Transition Assistance"

Dependents and Survivors Educational Assistance: Refer to Chapter 12, "Dependents and Survivors Benefits"

Fiduciary Program: The fiduciary program provides oversight of VA's most vulnerable beneficiaries who are unable to manage their VA benefits because of injury, disease, the infirmities of advanced age, or being under 18 years of age. VA appoints fiduciaries who manage VA benefits for these beneficiaries and conducts oversight of VA-appointed fiduciaries to ensure that they are meeting the needs of the beneficiaries they serve.

VA closely monitors fiduciaries for compliance with program responsibilities to ensure that VA benefits are being used for the purpose of meeting the needs, security, and comfort of beneficiaries and their dependents. In deciding who should act as fiduciary for a beneficiary, VA will always select the most effective and least restrictive fiduciary arrangement.

This means that VA will first consider whether the beneficiary can manage his/her VA benefits with limited supervision. VA will consider the choice of the beneficiary as well as any family, friends and caregivers who are qualified and willing to provide fiduciary services for the beneficiary without a fee.

As a last resort, VA will consider appointment of a paid fiduciary. For more information about VA's fiduciary program, please visit our website at benefits.va.gov/fiduciary/index.asp.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Subsistence Allowance: In some cases, a Veteran may require additional education or training to become employable. A subsistence allowance is paid each month during training and is based on the rate of attendance (full-time or part-time), the number of dependents, and the type of training.

Veterans who are eligible for both VR&E services and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits may elect a special subsistence allowance that is based on the monthly basic allowance for housing paid to active duty military. The monthly amount varies depending on the ZIP code of the training facility and is usually greater than the following regular subsistence allowance rates that are available to Veterans with no Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility who are using VR&E benefits.

Active-duty Servicemembers are not eligible for subsistence allowance until after Release from Active Duty date (RAD). 2012.

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