What's New for Vocational Counselors

The latest news

Request archived news

Email VocRehabProgram@Lni.wa.gov to request archived What's New postings.

Webinar Information – LMS/R

October 13, 2016

During the recent vocational conference many of you requested the link to the LMS/R webinar. The webinar is within the training archives (wsiassn.org) of the Washington Self-Insurers Association.

Fall Vocational Conference – Slides

October 13, 2016

Thank you for attending the 2016 Fall Vocational Conference. The topics included High Disability Risk Identification and Early Intervention, Psychosocial Determinants Influencing Recovery, Ethics, Career Bridge, Building a Supportable Labor Market Survey, Option 2, and Activity Coaching. View the slide presentation (234 MB PDF).

If you have any question, concerns, or ideas for future conference topics please contact Megan Bjornberg at Megan.Bjornberg@Lni.wa.gov or 360-902-6576.

Submitting Vocational Progress Reports and CAC Availability

October 7, 2016

It can be frustrating when you’re trying to submit progress reports and CAC isn’t working. To reduce the chances of this happening, it may be helpful to know:

  • Due dates for progress reports always occur on a workday. The “timely if received by” date is five calendar days afterwards and may fall on weekends or holidays. Waiting until the last day and then encountering CAC access problems can increase both stress and workload.
  • CAC is unavailable during regular maintenance hours:
    • 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday nights to 6 a.m. the next morning.
    • 6 p.m. every Sunday night to 6 a.m. Monday morning.
  • CAC may be unavailable on some weeknights or weekends due to other scheduled upgrades or fixes.
  • If you are unable to use CAC to submit an electronic progress report, you must fax the progress report by the “timely if received by” date in order to get credit for a timely report. Please be sure to:
    • Fax the report to the claim file. (Do not fax or email a copy to Janice Orcutt.)
    • Keep a copy of the fax confirmation.
    • Notify Janice Orcutt the report was faxed, providing the claim number and your contact information.

If you have any questions, please contact Janice Orcutt at 360-902-4854 or Janice.Orcutt@Lni.wa.gov.

Learn about the Preferred Worker Program

October 5, 2016

Visit the updated Preferred Worker Program (Lni.wa.gov/PreferredWorker) webpages to learn about:

  • eligibility
  • how to apply and get benefits
  • preferred worker certification
  • vocational and medical provider responsibilities
  • job and accommodation resources


Fall Vocational Conference Agenda

October 3, 2016

Here is the agenda for the Fall Vocational Conference (277 KB PDF). We are excited to see you Wednesday, October 5, from 8:00-4:30.

Please contact Megan Bjornberg at 360-902-6576 if you have questions.

Come to the Access Tri-Cities Job Fair October 11, 2016

September 15, 2016

This event will feature employers actively seeking to hire individuals with disabilities. It will be on October 11, 2016, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. at:

  • Columbia Basin College HUB
    2600 North 20th Ave
    Pasco, WA

To prepare workers in advance of the job fair, encourage them to attend these three workshops:

  • How to Sell Your Skills: Focusing on Abilities Rather than Disabilities

    October 4, 2016 from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

  • Resume Assistance and Review with HR Representatives and Vocational Providers

    October 5, 2016 from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. or

    October 6, 2016 from 1:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

  • Mock Interview with HR Representatives and Vocational Providers

    October 7, 2016 from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

All three workshops will be at:

  • WorkSource Columbia Basin
    815 N. Kellogg Street Ste D
    Kennewick, WA

For more information please contact Michelle Bishop, L&I Vocational Services Specialist at WorkSource Columbia Basin, at 509-734-5297.

Register now for L&I’s Fall Vocational Conference

September 13, 2016

On Wednesday, October 5, 2016, L&I will host the 2016 Fall Vocational Conference at the L&I Tumwater building.

Topics will include:

  • Psychosocial Factors
  • Ethics
  • New Tools
  • And more!

Registration is free and lunch will be on your own. Free parking and 6 CEUs including ethics pending through CRCC, CDMS, and ABVE will be provided. You can register now here.

Eligible Private Vocational Schools Reminder

August 31, 2016

Labor and Industries is required by statute (RCW 51.32.096)(3)(b)) to use only training providers (schools) that are licensed, accredited, or exempt from licensure and approved by L&I, for worker retraining. Find more information about the specific requirements on our Eligible Programs page.

Project Help’s “Meeting of the Minds” conference is scheduled for October 6-7, 2016

August 30, 2016

Learn about new legislation, laws, rules and regulations, along with evidence based medical and more from professional practitioner speakers.

Topics will include:

  • Independent Medical Examinations
  • The Current Vocational System
  • Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals topics
  • Special Considerations when Representing an Undocumented Worker
  • Newly Contended, Segregated, and Accepted Conditions

The conference will be held in Olympia, Washington and 13 CEUs will be available from CDMS and CRC.

You can register online.

ADMX pilot process-AWA referrals nearing fee cap

August 30, 2016

Beginning March 2, 2016, the claims unit VSS have collaborated with VRCs in a pilot to keep AWA referrals moving toward resolution. As of the end of July 2016, VSS have used the ADMX outcome on 545 AWA referrals. Of the 545 AWA referrals that were closed with the outcome of ADMX and re-referred for AWA, 124 referrals have been resolved within an average of 43 days.

In light of the data obtained in the pilot thus far, we have updated the pilot process in an effort to increase collaboration and reduce delays.

New Preferred Worker Request form is now available

August 26, 2016

VRCs now have a more active role in assisting workers and employers benefit from the Preferred Worker Program. Instead of waiting until the end of the claim, the VRC can request preferred worker status as soon as:

  • The specific, permanent work restrictions are known, and
  • No further curative treatment is planned OR the worker is at or near maximum medical improvement.

At the same time, the VRC can now help the employer of injury or a new employer qualify for preferred worker incentives by assisting in the development of a new, medically-approved job that will continue to be available into the foreseeable future.

To assist VRCs with their new role, we’ve revised the preferred worker forms. The new Preferred Worker Request (F280‑060‑000), effective August, 2016:

  • Combines two old forms (Preferred Worker Status Request and Intent to Hire Preferred Worker) into a single form - the status request is on the front and the job approval request is on the back.
  • Requires specific attachments to prevent delays.
  • Gives instructions at each step and lists examples of attachments needed.

The new form, dated 8-2016, is listed on the Preferred Worker Program webpage, which will be revised to reflect the new rules soon.

Do NOT attach the Preferred Worker form and supporting documents to other vocational reports. If you attach the form to other vocational reports, send incomplete information, or use outdated versions of the form, services to the worker and/or hiring employer will be delayed.

Please recycle all discontinued forms.

CDMS Certification Update

July 27, 2016

Beginning July 1, 2016, management of the CDMS certification program has transferred to the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC). For details, read the letters from the CDMS Chair and the CCMC Chair.

CEUs are now available for attending VTSG meetings

July 19, 2016

CRCC and CDMS Commission have approved a process by which CEUs can be obtained after attending VTSG meetings.

VTSG agendas are rarely determined in time for pre-approval of CEU credits. Consequently, approval numbers for verification of CEUs are not obtained until after VTSG meetings.

In order to receive credit for attending VTSG meetings, a signed evaluation form with email address needs to be completed at each meeting. Anonymous feedback can still be provided with an additional unsigned evaluation form.

Signed verification of completion forms specifying number of CEU credits will then be separately emailed to all participants who completed the evaluation forms. Announcements are not considered to be an agenda item for CEU credits.

See the VTSG meeting schedule.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Rheo Aieta at Robert.Aieta@Lni.wa.gov or 360‑902‑5447.

Maximum vocational retraining amount effective July 1, 2016

June 23, 2016

The maximum vocational retraining amount is reviewed annually and adjusted as needed according to the statute governing vocational rehabilitation services. For plans approved July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017, the maximum vocational retraining amount will remain $17,500.

Access to Workers’ Files in the Claim and Account Center (CAC)

June 22, 2016

VRCs now have the ability to see all claims for the worker. Locate the link on the Current Claim Status page labeled ‘Check for other claims for this worker’. The VRC will have access to see any CAC page, including the imaged file, for all the worker’s claims. Access to this information can be helpful for the VRC during the provision of vocational services.

The VRC will not have access to submit transactions (such as EVOC) on the claims where they do not have an open referral.

Structured settlement age requirement lowered

June 20, 2016

Effective January 1, 2016, the age requirement for structured settlement was lowered from 53 to 50.

Structured settlement may be an option for a worker if the following statutory criteria are met:

  • The injured worker is at least 50 years old;
  • The claim is with the department for at least 6 months; and
  • The allowance order on the claim is final.

In addition to the legal requirements, the injured worker should be at or very close to maximum medical improvement. Other factors that might make structured settlement an option for an injured worker include:

  • The injured worker wants to work, but cannot return to the work pattern at the time of injury;
  • The worker is not interested in going back to school;
  • The injured worker has work or retirement goals outside of the workers’ compensation system; or
  • The injured worker is close to retirement age.

Please submit referrals to the department if the injured worker is interested in structured settlement, or if structured settlement is consistent with the injured workers’ work or retirement goals. Referrals can be submitted via e-mail or over the phone at: Settlement@lni.wa.gov or at 360-902-6101. The structured settlement process can take approximately 3-4 months; it is important to remember that all actions on the claim must still occur.

2016 Spring Vocational Conference presentation now available

June 20, 2016

Thank you for attending the 2016 Spring Vocational Conference. The topics included:

  • Return to Work Measures
  • Work Injury Psychosocial Issues
  • FCE Project, Job Mods, and Stay at Work
  • Preferred Worker
  • Reimagine Vocational Audit
  • Mental Health
  • WorkSourceWA.com
  • Ethics

Attached you will find the 2016 Spring Vocational Conference presentation (3 MB PDF). The Ethics portion is not included.

If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas for future conference topics, please contact Megan Bjornberg at Megan.Bjornberg@Lni.wa.gov or 360-902-6576.

Tired of living your life in six minute increments?

April 14, 2016

  • Are you tired of worrying about billable hours?
  • Do you long for weekends free from billable work?
  • Are you passionate about making a positive difference in injured workers’ lives?
  • Do you yearn to belong to a collaborative, innovative team?

Come work for L&I!

  • Our Vocational Services Specialists just got a 7.5% pay raise!
  • We offer several opportunities for continuing education units
  • We have an active tuition-reimbursement program for continuing education.
  • Learn about our flexible work schedule opportunities

For a summary of state employment benefits, please visit the state's Human Resources website (hr.wa.gov).

As a VSS located in Tumwater, or one of our Regional Offices, you will be part of a multi-disciplinary team assisting employers and injured workers in returning to work. Your team may include claim managers, field representatives, occupational nurse consultants, and account managers.

You will contribute to Washington’s culture shift, focusing on:

  • Innovative approaches to tackle unnecessary workplace disability.
  • Achieving return to work outcomes for injured workers and employers.
  • Collaborative partnerships with injured workers, employers, private vocational providers, and medical providers.

We need vocational professionals to contribute skills and ideas to our success. Please contact us if you would like to have an informal conversation about this exciting opportunity, or apply directly using these links: Tumwater; Tacoma (ERTW); Spokane (ERTW); Tumwater (VDRO); Tumwater (PSRS). You can read more about the benefits of working at L&I.

In the .1 it took you to read this and click on the links, you could be on your way to getting your weekends back.

Vocational referral closure upon Option 2 election – actions needed

April 14, 2016

Effective today, the following new procedure will be used when closing a vocational referral upon Option 2 election.

The Vocational Services Specialist (VSS) will:

  • Determine whether the Option 2 election is timely.
  • If elected timely, enter the Option 2 information closing the vocational referral.
  • Call the vocational provider and inform them that:
    • Option 2 was elected.
    • The vocational referral is now closed.
    • They have 14 days to submit closure.

The vocational provider should have a conversation with the worker about Option 2, including reminding the worker that the:

  • Vocational award will be reduced by any time-loss received since the beginning of the Option 1 retraining plan.
  • Option 2 training fund will be reduced by the amount expended for Option 1, including costs incurred if the worker fails to withdraw from courses.

The vocational provider will then submit a vocational closure with the following information:

  • What was the approved retraining goal?
  • Did the worker start the retraining before electing Option 2?
  • If the worker started the retraining, what date did they start?
  • Outline discussion with worker about their Option 2 intent. Did they withdraw from courses? Outline any skills gained.

Note: The VRC does not need to submit a recommended vocational closure code as the vocational referral closes when the Vocational Services Specialist enters the Option 2 outcome.

New FCE Standards and Resources

April 7, 2016

In an effort to help workers heal and return to work, L&I initiated an improvement project regarding Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE) with a focus on quality and timeliness. You play a significant role.

Based on feedback from the Vocational Technical Stakeholder Group, Therapy Stakeholder Group, and various pilots, we've:

  • Adopted new standards regarding this service which will go into effect July 1, 2016 for State Fund claims.
  • Created new resources when communicating to the attending provider after an FCE.

Find these new standards and resource documents on our FCE project web site. You will be able to learn more at the Spring Voc Conference.

Secure Messages

March 29, 2016

The department has recently enhanced our Secure Message function so medical providers can attach relevant documents for claims staff review. This enhanced Secure Message function is only to be used by medical providers. These messages and documents are imaged as medical (MED) information in ORION.

Please do not submit vocational information using this function as it will be imaged incorrectly. Continue to use the EVOC function and fax the vocational information to the claim file. This will avoid any confusion and delays that may be caused by the vocational messages and documents being imaged incorrectly.

Second residence reminders.

November 20, 2015

VRCs sometimes need to request a second residence when submitting a retraining plan. Reimbursement rates are based on the current per diem rate for the county or state in which the training site is located. You can look up per diem rates (www.gsa.gov).

  • For retraining up to 45 days, the department or self-insured employer pays up to the allowed per diem rate.
  • For retraining longer than 45 calendar days, the department or self-insured employer may pay actual expenses up to one third of the per diem rate.

For questions specific to second residence circumstances, please contact the unit VSS.

End of main content, page footer follows.

Access Washington official state portal

  © Washington State Dept. of Labor & Industries. Use of this site is subject to the laws of the state of Washington.

Help us improve