What's New for Vocational Counselors

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

VRC access to Claim and Account Knowledge Base

September 20, 2017

VRCs can now use the online Claim and Account Knowledge Base to find L&Is vocational policies and other information. Weve added the directions on how to access this online reference to the Laws, rules, and policies page (formerly called About Referrals).


Fall Vocational Conference - Activity Coaching Integration and Collaboration Presentation Slides

September 14, 2017

Here is the presentation (1 MB PDF) with contact information for those of you who requested the slides.

Remember: If you obtain an attending providers referral for this intervention, please fax it directly to 360-902-5035 or call 360-902-6261.


CAC will be unavailable Friday evenings in September

September 5, 2017

CAC will not be available Friday evenings from approximately 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., effective September 1 through September 29.

If at any time you have trouble submitting an electronic progress report, you can get credit for a timely report if you:

  • Fax the report to the claim file by the timely if received by date. Keep a copy of the fax confirmation.
  • Notify Janice Orcutt via email that you faxed the report and provide the claim number. For security reasons, please do not include the workers name or attach the report.

It may also be helpful to remember:

  • 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.
  • Waiting until the last day to submit reports can increase both stress and workload, especially if technology isnt functioning as expected.

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


Maximum vocational retraining amount effective July 1, 2017

July 7, 2017

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, 2017 through June 30, 2018, the maximum vocational retraining amount is $17,885.


Computer Purchases for Retraining Plans: Things to Consider

June 22, 2017

Many of the proposed retraining plans include a request for a computer. The Vocational Service Specialist team has outlined some considerations for these requests.

  1. Is a computer required by the retraining program?
    • If so, ask the school to provide minimum requirements.
    • If not, L&I will consider a computer purchase if the worker cannot use a school lab to submit homework online.
  2. Talk with the worker about L&I requirements.
    • Prior approval is required.
    • Workers cannot pay the difference between a required computer and a desired one. For example, if the desired computer costs $2,000 and only $750 is approved, the worker cannot pay the difference.
  3. Does the worker need internet access in the home?
    • L&I will only reimburse for internet service if the worker doesnt currently have the service. (A set up bill will be required after the plan has been approved.)
  4. Reminders:
    • If special/ergonomic equipment is needed, the equipment/software can be requested as a Pre-Job Accommodation provided it is related to the industrial injury. (Examples: Dragon NaturallySpeaking, wave keyboard, ergo mouse, etc.)
    • Most internet providers offer FREE antivirus software.
    • Call your unit VSS during plan development if you have any questions.

Zale Technical Institute is closing

June 8, 2017

Zale Technical Institute has informed the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board that they will close the school as of September 28, 2017. They expressed their commitment to complete training for currently enrolled students. They stopped accepting new students as of March 31, 2017.


VSS staff updates

June 5, 2017

Please note the following staff changes:

  • Shelli Fleming has accepted a position with Private Sector Rehabilitation Services.
  • Samantha Carter, Jeff Sharp, and TaNisha Jones have been hired as Vocational Service Specialists In-Training.

Please check Contact Us to find the most up-to-date unit coverage assignments.


Enhancing communication with Limited English Proficiency injured workers

May 11, 2017

L&I is launching a new pilot for enhancing communication with injured workers who have limited English proficiency and who live outside of Washington State. The pilot will allow selected vocational providers to communicate with their client using services from a third party interpretive services vender. We hope to gain insight into the usefulness of the service as well as identify key issues that may need to be considered as part of a system-wide rollout. The pilot begins June 1, 2017, and ends August 31, 2017. Pilot results will be reported here and at VTSG. Please note that the VRCs selected for this pilot are those who have worked most often on out of state cases in the last year.


CAC access to all claims for a worker

May 1, 2017

A VRC with an open referral can access all prior claims for that worker in the Claim & Account Center. Access includes any CAC page, including the imaged file, for all the workers other open and closed claims. VRCs should not call the department to request time-limited access to prior claims; such requests create unnecessary work and cause delays.

Weve updated the Review a Claim webpage to include instructions on how to use CAC to view a workers other claims.


Reminder: SNA3 Not able to work or participate in vocational rehabilitation due to unaccepted conditions

April 13, 2017

Documentation may support that unaccepted conditions arising from unrelated events (post-injury motor vehicle accident, a post-injury illness, a post-injury progression of a pre-existing condition, or non-cooperation) prevent a worker from participating in vocational services (SNA3).

To support a vocational outcome SNA3, please provide the following information, regardless of the phase of vocational services:

  1. Documentation of the occupational possibility the worker could benefit from were it not for the unrelated conditions or barriers.
  2. A medically-approved job goal.
  3. The methodology for acquiring the skills.
  4. A labor market survey demonstrating the job goal exists.

VSS staff updates

April 13, 2017

Please note the following staff changes:

  • Lara Drabek has promoted to VSS supervisor.
  • Kelly Leber has accepted a transfer to the Vocational Dispute Resolution Office.

Please check Contact Us to find the most up-to-date unit coverage assignments.


Early AWA Referrals: A Sea Change

April 10, 2017

In partnership with you, our early AWA referrals are improving vocational outcomes and reducing long-term disability.

The charts below tell the story.

What weve done

AWA referrals are going out earlier than ever before.

Since December 2013, the days of time-loss benefits paid before the first AWA referral have plummeted- from 245 to 84! Line graph shows the Median Time-loss days paid at 1st AWA Referral beginning in January 2003 at about 200 days fluctuating down before peaking in November 2008 at about 275. The days stayed up there until a marked downward trend in July 2013 that has continued to the current state of below 100.

Since July of 2016 claim managers have:

  • Kept AWA referrals going out around our 90-day goal.
  • Sent out an average of 550 first AWAs every month, a rate not seen in 7 years!
What youve done

As a result of your hard work, outcomes are the best weve ever seen:

  • Return to Work and Able to Work Job of Injury outcomes have never been higher.
  • Able to Work Transferrable Skills outcomes have never been lower.
Line graph shows the First AWA referral made with less than 90 days of time-loss (12 month moving average) beginning in January 2004 measuring the Return to Work, Able to Work Job of Injury and Able to Work Transferable Skills statistics. Return to Work starts at 20%, Able to work job of injury and Able to work Transferable skills both begin at 15%. All three fluctuate until the new process is put in place in January 2014 when the Able to Work Transferable Skills trends downward to about 8% in January 2017. Return to Work and Able to Work Job of Injury both trend upwards to over 30% in January 2017.

Thank you for providing better outcomes for workers and employers! Our goal is to continue working with you to maintain these improvements, prevent long-term disability, and help our workers heal and return to work.


L&I has several opportunities for Vocational Services Specialists, located in Tumwater and Mt. Vernon

March 29, 2017

Come work for L&I and fulfill your dream of having a work-life balance!

  • No more billable hours!
  • A consistent paycheck!
  • Evenings and weekends free again!

Additional benefits:

  • Opportunities for continuing education units.
  • An active tuition reimbursement program for continuing education.
  • Flexible work schedule opportunities, including teleworking.
  • Medical, dental, and vision benefits.
  • Paid holidays, vacation, and sick leave.

Opportunities available

L&I Vocational Services Specialist, Return-to-Work (GovernmentJobs.com) Located in Tumwater: This Vocational Services Specialist supports the agency claims units. You'll use your professional and technical vocational services expertise and partnerships to ensure injured workers return to work as quickly and safely as possible. Assist workers in receiving the right services at the right time. Become a part of an amazing team who supports L&I's cutting-edge Return-to-Work (RTW) program.

Questions or to learn more about L&I and our opportunities contact Phyllis Gallegos at 360-902-4903 or by email at Phyllis.Gallegos@Lni.wa.gov.


VRCs Continue to Exceed Standard Work Expectations

March 14, 2017

Back in December we reported that the vocational community was doing an excellent job meeting the VRC Standard Work guidelines. Were very happy to say that a quarter later the VRCs continue to exceed those expectations.

Based on information the VRCs are documenting in their progress reports:

  • The initial vocational intake is being performed in an average of 13 days.
  • The job analyses are being sent to the appropriate providers in an average of 23 days.
  • The providers are reviewing those job analyses in an average of 38 days.

These are all still well within the 15, 30, and 42-day time frames we were hoping for!

Please continue to:

  • Fill in these fields in the Ability to Work Assessment progress report based on the first time you send the job of injury Job Analysis to the appropriate provider.
  • Keep reporting the barriers you are encountering so we can help you get these referrals resolved and the workers back to work.

This further demonstrates the value of our shared efforts to reduce delays in our system.

Thank you and please keep up the great work!


Partnering with Third Party Representatives (TPAs)/Retro and What You Should Know

February 21, 2017

L&I is working to partner with the TPAs and Retro groups when it comes to facilitating return to work for their aligned employers. Check out this PDF (320 KB PDF) to learn more.


New Tools for the ADMX Pilot!

January 23, 2017

In response to questions from the VRC community, and in an effort to increase collaboration and reduce delays, weve created some additional tools to assist the VRC with their ADMX referrals.

Please use these new tools:


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.


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.

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