Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation

Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation - Chapter 31

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service provides vocational-educational counseling to veterans and certain dependents. Individuals who are eligible for vocational-educational counseling include the following:

  • Transitioning service members who are
    • within six months prior to discharge from active duty, or
    • within one year following discharge from active duty
  • Current beneficiaries of vocational-educational counseling assistance participating in the following G.I. Bill programs:
    • Chapter 18     - Benefits for Children of Vietnam Veterans, Spina Bifida Program
    • Chapter 30     - Montgomery GI Bill®(MGIB)- Active Duty
    • Chapter 32     - Post-Vietnam Era Veterans' Educational Assistance
    • Chapter 33     - Post 9/11 GI Bill
    • Chapter 35     - Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance
    • Chapter 1606 - Montgomery GI Bill- Selective Reserve
    • Chapter 1607 - Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
    • Veterans and qualified dependents who are eligible for educational assistance under any of the above programs (Chapters).

*Post-9/11 GI Bill®Program begins AUGUST 1, 2009.

VR&E can provide a wide range of vocational and educational counseling services to service members still on active duty, as well as veterans and dependents who are eligible for one of VA's educational benefit programs. These services are designed to help an individual choose a vocational direction and determine the course needed to achieve the chosen goal.

Assistance may include interest and aptitude testing; occupational exploration; setting occupational goals; locating the right type of training program and exploring educational or training facilities which might be utilized to achieve an occupational goal.

Free counseling services are provided to eligible applicants. However, VA does not pay for transportation to the place of counseling.

If you would like additional information on any of the VA Education programs, please contact the nearest Regional VA Benefits Office or call our national toll free number at 1-(800)-827-1000, or visit the VA Education Service Web Site.

Using Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation at SVCC

Sauk Valley Community College will certify your hours each term to your Voc. Rehab. Counselor and report grade adjustments. It is your responsibility to keep your counselor informed of any curriculum changes, personal or academic issues that arise.

How Much Does VA Pay?

Current Benefit Rates for Chapter 31 Benefit Recipients

How Do I Apply?

New Applicant

You can apply by filling out VA Form 28-8832, Application for Counseling. The original VA Form 28-8832 should be submitted to the VA Regional Office:

Chicago Regional Office
2122 W Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: 1-800-827-1000

All students using Chapter 31 benefits must submit a completed SVCC Veteran Educational Benefits Cover Sheet for each term they wish to use benefits.

You may also apply online at the vets.gov website. If you choose to apply online, please print out the application and bring it along with your SVCC Veteran Educational Benefit Cover Sheet to the Office of Student Financial Assistance. We will notify the Veterans Administration Office of your method of applying for benefits.

Transfer Applicant

Students using Chapter 31, who transfer to SVCC, should contact their Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to find out how to transfer benefits.

How can I Prevent Overpayments and Penalties?

An overpayment is an incorrect benefit payment that is more than the amount to which you are entitled. You must promptly notify SVCC's Certifying Official of changes affecting your benefits, to prevent or reduce overpayments.

Carefully read all mail from the VA about the effective dates and monthly rate of your benefits. If you think you have received an incorrect check or direct deposit, contact the VA immediately. If you fail to contact the VA regarding a check or direct deposit for the wrong amount, you will be liable for repayment of any resulting overpayment.

If you apply for financial aid with SVCC and complete the FAFSA, you must declare your veteran benefits on the FAFSA or you will be liable for repayment of an overpayment.

Information regarding the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program

The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program is authorized by Congress under Title 38, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 31. It is sometimes referred to as the Chapter 31 program. The mission of VR&E is to help veterans with service-connected disabilities to prepare for, find, and keep suitable jobs. For veterans with service-connected disabilities so severe that they cannot immediately consider work, VR&E offers services to improve their ability to live as independently as possible.

Services that may be provided by VR&E include:

  • comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation to determine abilities, skills, interests, and needs
  • vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning
  • employment services such as job-seeking skills, resume development, and other work readiness assistance
  • assistance finding and keeping a job, including the use of special employer incentives
  • if needed, training such as On the Job Training (OJT), apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
  • if needed, post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical or business school
  • supportive rehabilitation services including case management, counseling, and referral
  • independent living services

Who is Eligible for VR&E Services?

To receive an evaluation for VR&E services, a veteran must:

  • have received, or will receive, a discharge that is other than dishonorable
  • have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10%
  • submit a completed application for VR&E services

The basic period of eligibility in which VR&E services may be used is 12 years from the latter of the following:

  • of separation from active military service, or
  • date the veteran was first notified by VA of a service-connected disability rating.

The basic period of eligibility may be extended if a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) determines that a veteran has a Serious Employment Handicap

What Happens after Eligibility is Established?

The veteran is scheduled to meet with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) for a comprehensive evaluation to determine whether the veteran is entitled to services. The comprehensive evaluation includes:

  • an assessment of the veteran's interests, aptitudes, and abilities
  • an assessment of whether service connected disabilities impair the veteran's ability to find and/or hold a job using the occupational skills he or she has already developed
  • vocational exploration and goal development

What is Entitlement Determination?

A Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) determines whether a veteran has an employment handicap based on the results of the comprehensive evaluation. Entitlement to services is established if the veteran is within his or her 12 year basic period of eligibility and has a 20 % or greater service-connected disability rating and an employment handicap.

If the service-connected disability rating is less than 20% or if the veteran is beyond the 12 year basic period of eligibility, then a serious employment handicap must be found to establish entitlement to VR&E services.

What Happens after the Entitlement Determination is Made?

The veteran and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VR&E) work together to:

  • select a VR&E program track leading to an employment or independent living goal
  • viable employment or independent living services options
  • Determine transferable skills
  • explore labor market and wage information
  • identify physical demands and other job characteristics
  • narrow vocational options to identify a suitable employment goal
  • investigate training requirements
  • identify resources needed to achieve rehabilitation
  • develop an individualized rehabilitation plan to achieve the identified employment or independent living goal

What is a Rehabilitation Plan?

A rehabilitation plan is an individualized, written outline of the services, resources and criteria that will be used to achieve successful rehabilitation. It is an agreement that is signed by the veteran and the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC)and is reviewed annually to determine whether any changes may be needed.

Depending on their circumstances, veterans will work with their VRC to select one of the following Five Tracks of services (see definitions for more detail):

  • Reemployment (with a former employer
  • Rapid employment services for new employment
  • Self-employment
  • Employment through long term services
  • Independent living services

What Happens after the Rehabilitation Plan is Developed?

After a plan is developed and signed, a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) or case manager will continue to work with the veteran to implement the plan to achieve suitable employment or independent living. The VRC or case manager may coordinate services such as tutorial assistance, training in job-seeking skills, medical and dental referrals, adjustment counseling, payment of training allowance, if applicable, and other services as required to achieve rehabilitation.

Summary of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (Chapter 31) Process

A veteran who is eligible for an evaluation under Chapter 31 must complete an application and meet with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC). If the VRC determines that an employment handicap exists as a result of a service-connected disability, the veteran is found entitled to services. The VRC and the veteran will then continue counseling to select a track of services and jointly develop a plan to address the rehabilitation and employment needs of the veteran.

The rehabilitation plan will specify an employment or independent living goal, identify intermediate goals, outline services and resources needed to achieve these goals. The VRC and the veteran will work together to implement the plan and achieve successful rehabilitation.

If a veteran is found not to be entitled to services, the VRC will help the veteran locate other resources to address any rehabilitation and employment needs identified during the evaluation. Referral to other resources may include state vocational rehabilitation programs, Department of Labor employment programs for disabled veterans, state, federal or local agencies providing services for employment or small business development, internet-based resources for rehabilitation and employment, and information about applying for financial aid.

Visit the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services web page. Or Call toll free 1-888-GI-BILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).