Veteran Readiness and Employment (Chapter 31)
If you’re a Veteran dealing with a service-connected disability, you may be concerned your condition will hinder your ability to get or keep a job. Today’s competitive job market can seem daunting, but you don’t need to go it alone. Veteran Readiness and Employment is a Chapter 31 program that can provide you the services you need to get and keep a job that’s a good match for your skills, interests, and capabilities. If your disabilities make employment unlikely, the program can help you achieve as many independent daily living skills as possible.
What is the Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) Program?
You may have heard the program referred to as Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment in the past. Today it’s also known as Chapter 31, VR&E, and Voc-Rehab. Regardless of the name, it’s a valuable resource as you explore your employment options and address your education and training needs. In some cases, your family members may also qualify for certain benefits. To learn more, visit va.gov.
Whether you want to learn new skills, find a new job, start a new business, receive educational counseling, return to your former job, or master independent living skills, VR&E has five support-and-services tracks that can help you achieve your goals.
This track can help you get back to work at your former job through a full range of vocational rehabilitation services, while supporting your employer in meeting your needs. As a Veteran, you’re protected under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, meaning you can’t be disadvantaged in your civilian career because of your service.
Rapid Access to Employment Track
If your existing skills are a great match for a job you’d like, VR&E can help you find the right employer. This track provides you tools to help you succeed in your job search, from professional and vocational counseling to help with writing your resume and preparing for interviews.
If you have the passion, skills, and drive to run a successful business, this track can help you become an entrepreneur. You’ll receive help with developing a business plan; analysis of your business concept; training in small-business operations, marketing, and finances; and guidance in how to get the right resources to launch your business.
Employment through Long-Term Services Track
If it’s time for a fresh start in a different field because your service-connected disability makes it hard to succeed in your current job, professional or vocational counseling and training is available for eligible Veterans through VR&E.
Independent Living Track
If your service-related disability is a barrier to performing daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, and interacting with others, and you can’t return to work right away, you may qualify for independent living services through this track.
Who is Eligible for VR&E?
If you’re a servicemember or Veteran who has a disability that was caused or worsened by your active-duty service and limits or prevents your employment, read on to find out if you’re eligible for VR&E benefits.
Qualifying as a servicemember
To qualify as a servicemember, you must meet at least one of these criteria:
- You have a 20% or higher predischarge disability rating (memorandum rating) and will soon leave the military.
- You’re waiting to be discharged because of a severe illness or injury that occurred while you were on active duty.
If you were severely injured while serving on active duty, you can automatically receive VR&E benefits before the VA issues a disability rating, according to the National Defense Authorization Act.
If you have an illness or injury that you believe was caused or worsened by your active-duty service, you can file a claim for disability benefits through the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program 180 to 90 days before you leave active duty. This may help speed up the claim decision process so you can get your benefits sooner.
Qualifying as a Veteran
To qualify as a Veteran, you must meet both of these criteria:
- You didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge.
- You have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10% from the VA.
After your VR&E application is received, the VA will schedule your initial evaluation with a vocational rehabilitation counselor who will determine if you’re eligible to receive VR&E benefits and services.
Your basic period of eligibility varies, depending on whether you were discharged from active duty before or after Jan. 1, 2013. If you were discharged after that date, there’s no time limit on your eligibility. If you were discharged before Jan. 1, 2013, your basic period of eligibility ends 12 years from one of these dates, whichever comes later:
- The date you received notice of your date of separation from active duty, or
- The date you received your first VA service-connected disability rating
If a vocational rehabilitation counselor finds that you have a serious employment handicap, the basic period of eligibility may be extended. The VA defines a serious employment handicap as a service-connected disability that limits your ability to prepare for or maintain suitable employment, meaning a job that is stable; matches your abilities, aptitudes, and interests; and has work duties that don’t worsen your disability.
How to apply for VR&E
Before you apply for VR&E benefits, make sure you have the following on hand: your social security number, your VA file number (if you know it), and an address, phone number, and email where you can be contacted.
There are two ways you may apply for benefits, online or by mail. To apply online, sign in to start your online application. If you have trouble using this online form, call the MYVA411 main information line at 800-698-2411. If you have hearing loss, call TTY:711. To apply by mail, fill out an application for Veteran Readiness and Employment for Claimants with Service-Connected Disabilities (VA Form 28-1900). Get VA Form 28-1900 to download.
Send your completed application to:
Department of Veterans Affairs
VR&E Intake Center
P.O. Box 5210
Changes to the “48-month rule” for VR&E and EDU Beneficiaries
Changes to the “48-month rule” for VR&E and EDU beneficiaries
There’s been an important change to the 48 Month Rule. Now Veterans who use VR&E benefits prior to using any other VA education program, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill® or Montgomery GI Bill, can still use up to 48 total months of the other educational assistance programs. In the past, VR&E usage was counted against GI Bill education benefits when applying the 48 Month Rule. To learn more, visit benefits.va.gov.
NU’s Veteran Services
You will find information about military benefits, scholarships, eligibility, and frequently asked questions on our Military Resources page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, because you can use the benefits for 48 months instead of just 36 months. If you sign up for VR&E before you use up Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you can still receive a subsistence payment during training. This video can fill you in on the details.
Yes, VA provides services to Veterans outside the United States.
Chapter 31 VA benefits cover a variety of education and training options and services to help Veterans find and keep a job, start their own business, and regain daily life skills after a service-related disability. Benefits are tailored to Veterans’ needs based on the support-and-services track they choose.