What's New for Vocational Counselors

The latest news

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

New travel mileage rate effective January 1, 2018

January 9, 2018

Effective January 1, 2018, the personal vehicle mileage rate is $.55 per mile. The rate in 2017 was $.54 per mile.

L&Is Vocational Services Specialist (VSS) at King County WorkSource: new contact information

January 9, 2018

Erin McPhee, L&Is King County WorkSource VSS, has moved from Renton WorkSource to Auburn WorkSource.

Erins new contact information is:

  • Work phone/text: 206-305-0168
  • Fax: 253-333-4901

Access to telephone interpretation services expanding to include in-state clients

January 2, 2018

Effective January 1, 2018, for all L&I-insured claims, vocational providers will be able to use an over-the-phone interpreter when speaking with injured workers with limited English proficiency. The service is available for both in-state and out-of-state workers. Its easy and fast to get an interpreter on the line, with access to more than 240 languages and dialects.

In-person contact is still preferred

L&I considers in-person interpretation to be the gold standard because interpreters can see body language and facial expressions. However, for unusual languages or in remote areas, it can be hard to arrange in-person interpreters. In addition, sometimes it just makes more sense to use an over-the-phone interpreterfor example, when you need to reschedule a meeting, or are sharing time-sensitive information. Over-the-phone interpreters are available in seconds.

How to access telephone interpretation services

Vocational providers can request telephone interpretation services at:

When requesting telephone interpretation services, the vocational provider must tell Language Link:

  • Vocational provider name
  • Vocational firm name
  • Claim number
  • Workers name
  • Language needed

How to access Language Link

Learn about the Vocational Technical Stakeholder Group (VTSG)

December 27, 2017

The Vocational Technical Stakeholder Group (VTSG) is an important part of ongoing collaboration between L&I and vocational rehabilitation providers. The group acts as a professional resource for L&I, giving feedback on proposals regarding current or emerging issues and helping shape L&I policy on vocational rehabilitation services.

Did you know that all vocational providers are welcome at VTSG? You can earn CEUs for attending AND you can contribute to discussions. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to participate in our community. The next meeting is Jan. 23 at 10 a.m. in Tukwila. We hope to see you there!

The most recent VTSG minutes are here. You can learn more about VTSG, find the meeting schedule, and read previous meeting minutes on the VTSG webpage.

ADMX pilot supports vocational providers in helping injured workers

December 19, 2017

Our vocational provider partners are having success by actively engaging workers and assisting them with identifying and overcoming barriers starting the first day they receive an AWA referral! Sometimes, in spite of great effort, more time is required. The ADMX pilot supports those vocational providers who are committed to these efforts to actively engage workers while providing a clear path to return to work.

L&I's Private Vocational Schools Collaborative Project

November 21, 2017

From February 2016 through February 2017, L&I partnered with the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, the state agency that licenses private schools, to gain a better understanding of licensing requirements and the complaint investigation process for private schools.

Goals included:

  • Identifying potential deficiencies of training programs.
  • Evaluating issues related to skill attainment and job readiness.
  • Finding opportunities to partner with government agencies and other organizations that work with private schools.

To review L&I's findings and recommendations, see Private Vocational Schools Collaborative Report, November 2017 (822 KB PDF).

What is L&I's Private Vocational Schools Collaborative Project?

The L&I Private Vocational Schools Collaborative works with public and private schools, the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, vocational providers and other stakeholders to ensure quality education for injured workers.

For more information, call Karen Ahrens at 360-902-4529.

Change to Application Requirements for New Firms

November 15, 2017

As some of you have heard, we are officially launching the Vocational Recovery Project a collaborative effort with members of the vocational community to create a culture focused on vocational recovery that engages all parties in preventing work disability while improving return-to-work outcomes.

In the coming weeks, youll learn more about this important partnership to improve the delivery of best practices that support worker engagement and our shared focus on return to work. In addition to identifying best practices, we will be developing, for example, the infrastructure to encourage best practices through education and training tools, ensuring our referral model supports service quality, developing incentives, improving our performance measurement model, and analyzing elements or criteria for vocational providers and firms.

While we pursue this important work with your representatives, its important that we avoid unnecessary changes. For this reason, effective immediately L&I will no longer approve a vocational provider application for a twin firm. A twin firm is a firm that is the same as another firm, in terms of office locations and staff.

If you have questions about this decision, please reach out directly to Richard Wilson, CRC, Private Sector Compliance Program Manager.

New billing codes for Option 2 vocational services

October 20, 2017

Vocational counseling and job placement services can be provided on both State Fund and self-insured claims when the worker has selected Option 2 under a plan approved on or after July 31, 2015.

Option 2 vocational counseling and job placement services on State Fund claims can now be billed using your usual billing process. Please stop using the manual process shared with you previously.

  • The new billing codes are:
    • R0399 (Vocational counseling)
    • R0398 (Job placement services)
  • Use referral number 9999999 since the plan development referral will be closed.

For more information about vocational counseling and job placement services, see:

Were in the process of adding Information on Option 2 vocational services to:

  • Medical Aid Rules and Fee Schedules (MARFS).
  • Option 2: What You Need to Know brochure (F280-036-000).

Updated ADMX pilot process

September 28, 2017

We've updated the ADMX pilot guidelines, templates, and stakeholder engagement resources. Our goal is to create a culture focused on vocational recovery that engages all parties in preventing workplace disability while improving the worker's return-to-work opportunities. Please use the following updated resources:

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.

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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