Understanding Voc Rehab Benefits

VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program is intended for veterans who have a combined service-connected disability rating of 20 percent or more and for certain service members awaiting discharge due to a medical condition. A veteran with 10 percent combined service connected rating may apply for benefits but must meet additional entitlement criteria. The mission of VR&E is to help veterans with service-connected disabilities and certain service members awaiting discharge due to a medical condition to prepare for, find and keep suitable employment. For individuals entitled to benefits but with disabilities so severe that they cannot immediately consider work as a viable option, VR&E offers services to improve their ability to live as independently as possible.


Services/Benefits that may be provided by VR&E include:

  • Comprehensive vocational 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 vocational rehabilitation services including case management, counseling, and referral
  • Independent living services

If your disabilities are so severe that you are unable to work, independent living services may be provided. A program of independent living provides the services and assistance necessary to ensure each eligible veteran is capable, to the maximum extent possible, of living independently and participating in family and community life activities with the added potential of eventually returning to work. Services/Benefits may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Assistive technology
  • Services to address any personal and/or family adjustment issues
  • Independent living skills training
  • Connection with community-based support service

 To receive and 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 percent

·         Submit a completed application (VA Form 28-1900) for VR&E services


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

  • Date 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.

Subsistence Allowance - in some cases, you might require additional education or training to become employable. A VR&E subsistence allowance is paid each month during training and is based on whether you attend training full-time or part-time, the number of family members you have, and the type of training.

In summary, a veteran or service member must complete an application and meet with a VRC to determine eligibility. If the VRC determines that an employment handicap exists as a result of a service-connected disability, the veteran is entitled to services. The VRC and the veteran will then continue counseling to develop a plan to address the rehabilitation and employment needs of the individual.

The rehabilitation plan will specify an employment or independent living goal, identify intermediate goals, and 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 vocational 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.

See Your VSO for More Details.

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