What's New for Vocational Counselors

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The Vocational Profile Performance Report will be refreshed July 1

June 24, 2016

The vocational performance report will be refreshed July 1 and will include performance data through June.

We will continue monitoring accuracy. Please notify us if you:

  • See an error in the refreshed performance report.
  • See links for a referral after it was closed by L&I or after you sent a recommendation via VocLink.
  • Fax a progress report to the claim file.

To make it easier to submit your progress reports, please ensure there are no special or hidden characters in your report and avoid submitting them during regular maintenance hours for CAC on evenings and weekends. CAC maintenance is scheduled 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on Sunday and 11:30 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. the rest of the week.

Thank you for all you do to help workers heal and return to work.

If you have any questions or have trouble submitting progress reports, please contact Janice Orcutt at 360‑902‑4854 or Janice.Orcutt@Lni.wa.gov.


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 workers 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.


The Vocational Profile Performance Report will be refreshed this week

June 7, 2016

After additional troubleshooting, vocational data now appears to be accurate, so we will refresh the Vocational Profile this week. The report will include performance data through May. This means recent CAC outages in June will not affect provider scores for this report.

We will continue monitoring accuracy over the next few weeks. Please notify us if you:

  • See an error in the refreshed performance report.
  • See links for a referral after it was closed by L&I or after you sent a recommendation via VocLink.
  • Fax a progress report to the claim file.

Thank you for all you do to help workers heal and return to work.

If you have any questions or have trouble submitting progress reports, please contact Janice Orcutt at 360‑902‑4854 or Janice.Orcutt@Lni.wa.gov.


L&I is recruiting new VTSG members

June 7, 2016

We are seeking front-line, direct service providers to serve on the VTSG. Expectations include

  • serving 3-year terms;
  • attending 3 5-hour bi-monthly meetings, alternating between Olympia and Tukwila;
  • participating in discussions and providing input concerning vocational services policies; and
  • participating in subgroups tasked with exploring policy options.

Note: L&I may be able to assist members with transportation costs.

How will members be selected?

L&I will select 2 members by an application process. We are looking for VRCs who can add diversity to policy discussions. Some of the qualities being sought are

  • individual counselors, and
  • self-insurance experience.

If you are interested in being considered, please complete the Application for Membership VTSG form (37 KB PDF) and return by June 30, 2016.


L&Is Preferred Worker Program web page now lists interim guidelines

May 2, 2016

L&Is Preferred Worker Program web page now lists interim guidelines the department is using until the preferred worker rules are finalized. You can view the website here.


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 Washingtons 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; Mount Vernon (WorkSource); Tacoma (ERTW); Spokane (ERTW); Tumwater (VDRO); Tumwater (PSRS). You can read more about the benefits of working at L&I here.

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.


AWA referrals nearing fee cap pilot process

March 2, 2016

The department is making new AWA referrals to VRCs much earlier in claims and asking the VRCs to keep the AWA referrals open while the worker is still in medical treatment to keep the worker and employer focused on return to work.

There are also a number of older, complex, and extended duration AWA in the system that are nearing the fee cap.

To provide continuity of services for the workers and employers, reduce unnecessary delays, and mitigate long term disability, the claims unit VSS will collaborate with the VRC in a pilot to keep these referrals moving toward resolution. View the pilot process (203 KB PDF).


Join our Audit Team!

December 24, 2015

These are exciting times at PSRS. Were working with our VRC partners to design a world class vocational audit program. Become a part of an amazing team who support L&Is cutting-edge Return to Work Partnerships (RTW) program that helps injured workers heal and return to work, makes it easy to do business with L&I and helps honest providers by cracking down on dishonest ones.

Interested? Click HERE to view the full job announcement and to apply!


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.


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