So you’ve applied for Vocational Rehabilitation (also known as Chapter 31) with the VA.
It’s been a long time just getting here from the disability rating process. Well, the good news is that the VocRehab program is a much shorter process. Once you’ve applied, you will receive a letter that schedules you for an appointment with a VocRehab counselor. Here’s what you should expect to happen at that meeting.
Prior to Meeting: Get Prepared
Update your resume and be sure to bring a copy with you. Completely fill out all paperwork requested by your counselor and bring a copy of this with you as well.
Be sure to do some brainstorming on the career you would like to obtain after the program and the training or educational requirements. I recommend looking at the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which provides an overview of career options, working conditions, median salaries and the education required. I suggest you print out any careers you are interested in from the handbook and bring these with you as well.
Be ready to discuss the limitations of your disability and how this affects your ability to work within your current skill sets. Your disability may also limit the hours you are capable of working, preventing you from obtaining a suitable level of household income.
The idea is to make this as easy as possible for your counselor, who will be your advocate in this process. He or she must ensure your file is complete and any granted benefits are justifiable.
Day of: Show up early
Most VocRehab offices schedule a group of veterans for the introduction, after which you will meet with your individual counselor. If you aren’t there in a timely fashion, they may choose to go on without you.
You may watch an informational video on what to expect from the program. A representative will be available for questions and may pass along further information. Following this you will take a computer-based skills test. This is a bit like the ASVAB. It rates your interests and abilities and tries to match you with ideal job fields. If you hold a degree already, be sure to let the representative know, as this test may be waived. This is ultimately up to your counselor, who may find the test information useful in compiling your file.
Meet with your counselor
At this point, your assigned counselor will review your test results and paperwork. He or she will want to discuss your disability, what limitations it causes and the careers you find interesting. They will also determine if you are eligible for the program (whether your disability causes you enough employment difficulty to warrant retraining).
Remember: Their goal is to make you employable upon completion of the program. If your tests indicate that you are weak in creativity but strong in mathematics, a career in painting may not be a path they can support.
Once your meeting is complete and your counselor has determined eligibility, you may need to complete some additional paperwork. Otherwise, the process from this point is quick and you may find yourself in school sooner than you think.
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