If you qualify for vocational retraining, your vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC) will explain the vocational process to you. The VRC will work with you to develop a retraining plan aimed at helping you return to work. They will also help you understand your training options, including when and how you can elect the option you prefer.

Once we approve the training plan, you have 2 options:

  • Option 1 is to follow your L&I-approved plan.
  • Option 2 gives you the ability to develop a plan on your own.

For Option 1 or 2 training, you must use licensed, accredited, or L&I-approved schools or programs. We have resources to help you find these:

If you find a school or training program that isn't licensed or accredited, it still may qualify.

If you choose Option 2

If you are a worker who has chosen Option 2, you can create your own vocational training plan. After we confirm your Option 2 election, we will:

  • End time-loss benefits.
  • Issue Option 2 benefits:
    • A vocational award (an amount of money usually equal to 9 months of time-loss compensation), and
    • Training funds to use for school.
  • Close the claim.

If you need help or have questions about using your Option 2 benefits, call our Option 2 specialists at 360-902-9135. For example, they can:

  • Help you apply for the training funds.
  • Tell you the balance of your vocational award or training funds.
  • Answer questions about equipment and supplies and out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Help you find out if you can use a specific school or program.
  • Answer your school or training program’s questions.
  • Help you find a vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC) in your area to help you with counseling and/or job placement.

Training funds - getting help from a VRC

You can use up to 10% of your training funds to get help from a VRC. They can help you with services such as:

  • Creating your own training plan.
  • Job development, including contacting potential employers on your behalf.
  • Job readiness and interview practice.
  • Job search and job application assistance, including targeted resume development.

Exception: You cannot use your training funds for vocational services if we approved your Option 1 retraining plan before July 31, 2015.

How to find a VRC

You can:

  • Use the VRC you worked with during plan development/implementation, or
  • Contact our Option 2 specialists at 360-902-9135 for a list of VRCs in your area.

Working with your selected VRC

Here’s what you may expect when working with your selected VRC. You will:

  • Work with the VRC to create a service agreement to meet your goals.
  • Share access to claim documents with the VRC if they ask.
  • Receive vocational services from the VRC.
  • Sign the summary report the VRC will give you. Your signature verifies you received the stated services.

You may switch to a different qualified VRC any time during the 5-year Option 2 training period if you have enough funds left for Option 2 vocational services.

If you have a complaint about the Option 2 vocational services, call the Option 2 specialists at 360-902-9135.

Your training funds - when available and what you can use them for

Training funds are available on the date we mail you a legal order and notice confirming your Option 2 election. You have up to 5 years to apply to use the training funds.

  • The vocational retraining funds aren’t a cash award. You may only use the funds to pay for licensed, accredited, or L&I-approved schools or programs and certain expenses. For more information, see Option 2: What You Need to Know (F280‑036‑000).
  • You cannot use your Option 2 funds for on-the-job training and self-employment goals.

Before you start your training

  • If your claim was covered by a self-insured employer, contact the employer or its representative to find out how to get started.
  • If your claim was insured by L&I, complete Part A of the Option 2 Training Application (F280-024-000). Then, ask your school’s registration official to complete Part B. Be sure that you or the school sends us the completed form by mail or fax:

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
PO Box 44291
Olympia WA 98504-4291

Fax: 360-902-5035

Questions from schools

The school or training program can call us—or the employer if it is self-insured—after you give written permission to release claim information to the school or training program.

Vocational award

The Option 2 vocational award is money to help you transition from time-loss payments to potential employment, schooling, or other plans you may have after your claim is closed. The amount paid depends on the time-loss benefit rate you were entitled to and the date we approved your Option 1 training plan.

Vocational award lump sum payment

We may authorize a lump sum payment at our discretion. If you wish to receive a lump sum payment, send us a request in writing and include your claim number. Send your request to:

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
PO Box 44291
Olympia WA 98504-4291

If we approve your request, you will receive the remainder of your award once 70 days or more have passed from the mailing date on your claim closing order.