What's New for Vocational Counselors

The latest news

Spring 2016 Vocational Conference - we want your ideas!

November 25, 2015

The L&I Spring 2016 vocational conference will be held on March 29, 2016 at the L&I Tumwater auditorium. We are currently reviewing ideas for possible topics and presenters. We would like to hear from our VRC partners: What topics would you like to see on the agenda? Do you have suggestions for presenters?

Please submit your ideas by December 11, 2015 using this mailbox. Thank you!

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 here.

  • 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.

Access to L&I Systems.

November 10, 2015

On November 3, L&I put in place changes to security measures for external parties who access our systems. These changes are very similar to security used by other external entities such as banks that individuals do business with. When implemented, which is happening in phases, the user will be asked to provide an additional phone number or email address, then select and answer three secret questions. After the users security profile is updated, theyll be asked to enter a secret code at future logins if they do not choose to have the computer they are using remembered. This code will be provided via phone or email.

The New Ability to Work Non-Eligible Assessment Template is Ready

November 9, 2015

The new Ability to Work Non-Eligible Assessment template is located on the Ability-to-Work Assessment webpage. The template is designed to increase compliance with the Washington Administrative Code by making it easier for:

  • VRCs to submit the required information and
  • L&I Claim Managers (CMs) to find the information they need.

This template is to be used on all non-eligible closures.

The Department worked with volunteers from private sector, the Vocational Technical Stakeholders Group (VTSG), and VSS staff to design and pilot the new report.

The New Ability to Work Non-Eligible Assessment template is required for all State Fund cases and will be effective 30 days from todays date.

If you have questions, contact your assigned VSS.

Accessing Student Records

November 2, 2015

VRCs report that they sometimes have difficulty accessing school records for their client who is attending (or has attended) school. Awareness of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) may help address these issues. FERPA is a federal law that was enacted in 1974. FERPA protects the privacy of student education records. All educational institutions that receive federal funding must comply with FERPA. Many schools require (and may even provide) a student consent to release information form that is FERPA compliant. An example of a FERPA consent form can be found here (176 KB PDF). There is no standard FERPA consent form.

Claims Support Unit Voicemail System Updated

October 29, 2015

The Claims Support Unit voicemail system was updated on Tuesday, October 20th. A User Quick Reference Guide (85KB PDF) has been created to make it easier and quicker for you to navigate through the new menu.

If you have questions, please feel free to email Sue Callaghan at Sue.Callaghan@Lni.wa.gov.

Early Ability to Work Assessment.

October 19, 2015

The Department is actively implementing a number of initiatives in an effort to help injured workers heal and return to work. One of these initiatives is related to the time at which the Department makes a referral for private sector return to work services. By the end of December 2015, all claim units will be making referrals for Ability to Work Assessments between 60 and 70 days of time-loss paid. Our analysis shows this timely approach reduces long term disability and has resulted in better outcomes for employers and injured workers. You may also continue to receive older referrals as you have seen in the past. Please submit any questions to Ryan Guppy at ryan.guppy@lni.wa.gov

Frequently asked questions about vocational counseling and job placement services in Option 2.

October 9, 2015


  • Are there going to be any reporting requirements by the person providing vocational counseling and job placement services?
  • Can these services be provided by any VRC with an active provider number?
  • When will the codes be available for billing and what are the codes?


More information will be provided as we work with the business and labor advisory group and VRC representatives to develop rules and processes specific to Option 2 vocational counseling and job placement services.

VTSG meeting announcements and agenda highlights.

October 7, 2015

On 9/21/15, the Vocational Technical Stakeholders Group (VTSG) met in Tukwila. You can view the meeting announcements and agenda highlights here.

Spokane Private School Closure.

October 6, 2015

Interface College of Spokane has announced plans to cease operations. The school stopped enrolling new students as of 9/21/15.

According to the school, current students have potential options. They can finish out the current semester, which for some of them will complete their degree or certification. Students may be able to transfer to another school. Carrington College will be accommodating any student transferring for one of the medical programs. Interface is also working with other area schools to set up transfer relationships.

VRCs should not submit retraining plans for Interface College. If a VRC has a client currently attending Interface, please work with the client and the school to determine the best option for the client. Additional information will be posted here as it becomes available.

Plan Transportation Cost Encumbrance form is updated.

September 24, 2015

There is a new, one-page version of the Plan Transportation Cost Encumbrance form (F245-375-000).

For information on completing the form, please refer to the procedure changes in the August 1 travel expense rule change Whats New? posting.

Private career schools reminder.

September 2, 2015

Labor and Industries is required by statute (RCW 51.32.099) to use only training providers (schools) that are licensed, accredited, or exempt from licensure and approved by L&I, for worker retraining.

The majority of private career schools in Washington State are regulated by the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (WTECB). Private career schools licensed by WTECB are required to renew their private vocational school licenses on an annual basis and ensure that all program and course offerings are current and up-to-date. VRCs can check the WTECB web site to determine if a private school is licensed.

To help ensure that workers are attending approved programs from approved schools, when you submit an in-state retraining plan with a licensed private school you must include a copy of the section of the schools WTECB-approved course catalog that pertains to the proposed program. The program identified in the plan must match the program in the approved catalog.

Please note that if a schools program is on the "Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL), also administered by the Workforce Board, then that school may be used, provided the plan matches the program(s) listed on the ETPL web site.

If you have questions please consult with your VSS.

Clarification on date fields in AWA progress reports

August 26, 2015

If the Vocational Counselor determines it is appropriate to send the Job Analyses to another provider (SIMP, IME, FCE, or Work Hardening provider, etc.) BEFORE they send it to the Attending Physician, please capture the date the JAs are send to that provider in the Date JA to Attending Provider field on the AWA progress report.

Similarly, please capture the date that provider responds to the JAs in the Date of Attending Provider Review of JA field.

This allows the VRC to use their judgement on who needs to comment on the JA at that point in the claim and the Claim Manager can see that that the referral is progressing as expected.

We plan to change the language on the AWA Progress Report to read Date JA Sent to Appropriate Provider and Date of Provider Review of JA in the near future.

Thank you very much for all of your efforts to reduce delays in our system.

Important reminders about interpretation and translation services

August 19, 2015

When an injured worker is receiving vocational services it is the responsibility of the healthcare or vocational provider to determine whether effective communication is occurring and to select an interpreter if one is needed. This is true even if the worker is represented.


If a VRC conducts an intake meeting with the injured worker at the workers attorneys office, the VRC should not expect that the attorney will provide an interpreter for oral communication. The VRC needs to ensure that an interpreter is available if one is needed.

Oral vs written communication

L&I pays for oral interpretive services during a vocational referral if they are needed and if the interpreter is qualified per L&I policy. Please note that interpretation services convey oral communications only, while translation services are in written format. Written translation services are not provided to workers that are represented by an attorney.

7/20/15 VTSG meeting announcements and agenda highlights

August 11, 2015

On 7/20/15, the Vocational Technical Stakeholders Group (VTSG) met in Tukwila. You can view the meeting announcements and agenda highlights here.

August 1 travel expense rule change

August 4, 2015

Beginning August 1, 2015, all mileage incurred by workers for retraining purposes will be payable. This means the first and last 15 miles will no longer be deducted. Please note the following procedure changes, effective August 1, 2015.

Annual training benefit

August 3, 2015

The annual training benefit for vocational plans has changed.

Here is the maximum retraining benefit by plan approval date:

Plan Approval Date Maximum Training Benefit
July 31, 2015 and after $17,500.00
July 1, 2015 through July 30, 2015 $16,719.16
June 30, 2015 and before $17,599.11

Accountability Agreement

August 3, 2015

For plans approved on and after July 31, 2015, use the new 7-2015 version of the Accountability Agreement. It provides updated information about Option 2 benefits to reflect the legislative changes in Substitute House Bill 1496. It also removes the training fund amount so there will be no need to update the form every year on July 1st.

For all plan modifications, on any plan, use the new Option 1 Plan Modification Accountability Agreement.

Highlights of Option 2 changes

August 3, 2015

  • The changes apply to workers with plans approved on or after July 31, 2015.
  • Workers receive an award equal to nine months of time-loss rather than six.
  • Workers can use up to 10 percent of Option 2 training funds for vocational assistance such as interviewing skills and resume development.
  • Gives Option 1 participants the ability to choose Option 2 through the first academic quarter or three months training.
  • If the worker chooses Option 2 after starting Option 1, the following will occur:
    • The training benefit will be reduced by the amount of tuition and related fees expended during the Option 1 retraining.
    • The nine-month vocational award will be reduced by any time-loss the worker received since beginning the Option 1 retraining plan.

The department has begun rulemaking to address the Option 2 changes. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide input. Further clarification will be provided as the rulemaking and stakeholdering process unfolds.

Forms and publications that discuss Option 2 are being updated. We will notify you via Whats New when they are published.

Program updates

July 22, 2015

The Preferred Worker Program will soon offer increased benefits to the employer of record and new employers starting January, 2016. We are currently in the process of implementing the language in Substitute House Bill 1496. You can learn more about this legislation here.

The Washington Stay at Work Program (WSAW) will continue to offer the same level of benefits. No changes are currently planned for the WSAW program.

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.