The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program, also referred to as the Chapter 31 program, helps veterans with service-connected disabilities and/or an employment handicaps prepare for, find, and keep jobs. The program provides services that include job searching assistance, vocational, technical or other workforce training; and can also help veterans locate or purchase required job supplies or equipment.
In order to participate in the VR&E program, veterans must meet eligibility and entitlement requirements. The VA generally allows a veteran a 12-year grace period in which VR&E benefits may be used. The start of the 12-year period is defined by the latter of the following dates: date of separation from active military, or date the veteran was first notified of a service-related disability rating.
To determine a veterans entitlement, the degree of service-connected disability or employment handicap must first be established. If a veteran has a 20% service-connected disability then they are entitled to services. If the disability is only 10%, then there must be a serious employment handicap to be eligible for benefits. The percentage of disability is assessed by a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) and a comprehensive evaluative assessment. The assessment includes general aptitude, interest and abilities questions; but also determines whether a veteran’s state of disability is employment prohibitive. The assessment is also used to help the VRC determine the right VR&E program track and help create an appropriate employment plan.
How to Apply
Eligible Veterans may apply for either Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits or for Education/Career Counseling online through the VA eBenefits website. Follow these steps:
- Log in to your eBenefits account
- Select “Additional Benefits” from the dashboard
- Select “Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program” – be sure to read the program information and to update your contact information – and apply for either the “Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program” or “Education/Career Counseling”
- If it is determined that you are eligible, you will be invited to attend an orientation session, in-person, at the nearest VA Regional Office
- Servicemembers who have a disability that began or became worse during active duty and who have not yet received a service-connected disability (SCD) rating do not need to wait to apply. Check out VA Form 28-0588 for further instructions.