The VA offers a program called Vocational Rehabilitation &Employment (VR&E) that is intended to rehabilitate and train disabledveterans whose disabilities affect their ability to prepare for, obtain, and retain employment. 

What benefits does Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment provide?

VR&E provides for:

  • Acomplete evaluation to determine the veteran’s abilities, skills, and interests for employment
  • Vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment services
  • Employment services such as job training, resume development, and other work-readiness support
  • Help finding and keeping a job, including the use of special employer incentives and job accommodations
  • On the Job Training (OJT), apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
  • Post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical, or business school
  • Supportive rehabilitation services including case management, counseling, and medical referrals
  • Independent living services if a veteran is unable to work due to the severity of their disabilities

Who is entitled to Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment?

A Veteran with at least a 20 percent service-connected disability or more is entitled to vocational rehabilitation if they can show that the need for services and assistance isdue to an “employment handicap.”  A Veteran with a 10 percent service-connected disability is entitled to vocational rehabilitation if the need for services and assistance is due to a serious employment handicap.  Active duty may be eligible for VR&E benefits if 1) they have a 20% or higher pre-discharge disabilityrating and will soon leave the military, or 2) are participating in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process or awaiting discharge due to a medical condition resulting from a serious injury or illness that occurred in the line of duty.  In order to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, the veteran’s vocational impairment must be one “resulting in substantial part from” his or her service-connected disability or disabilities.

Before a vocational rehabilitation is approved, the servicesnecessary for the training must be identified and individualized, a written plan must be developed describing the goals of the training and the means of achieving those goals.  Applications for vocational rehabilitation will be denied if the goals of the training are not determined to be “reasonably feasible.” 

Period of Eligibility for Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment

A veteran’s basic period of eligibility ends twelve years after establishing the qualifying compensable service-connected disability or twelve years from the date of separation from active military service.  The twelve-year eligibility period may be extended on a case-by-case basis but only if the veteran has a serious employment handicap, the need for rehabilitation services necessitates an extension, and other conditions are met.  Also, the twelve-year eligibility period is stayed if the veteran appeals the VA’s decision denying him or her benefits under the program. 

A veteran must have received a discharge under conditions other than dishonorable to qualify for VR&E benefits.  Where the veteran has a disqualifying character of discharge the twelve-year period does not begin to run until the discharge has been upgraded.  The twelve-year period also does not begin to run while a medical condition prevents the start or continuation of the vocational rehabilitation program, or while a veteran is prevented from participating in or continuing in vocational rehabilitation as a result of being ordered to active duty. 

Edward M. Farmer is a U.S. Army veteran and attorney. A majority of his career has been dedicated to assisting veterans. More information regarding Edward and his lawfirm can be found at www.vetlawoffice.com

The material and information contained on these pages and on any pages linked from these pages are intended to provide general information only and not legal advice. You should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction before relying upon any of the information presented here.