What's New for Vocational Counselors

The latest news

Career opportunity: A chance to make a difference

May 6, 2015

There are big things happening at L&I! We are launching new return to work initiatives and shaping enhanced services to achieve our agency goals of helping injured workers heal and return-to-work while making it easier to do business with L&I.

As a Vocational Service Specialist (VSS) on the claims floor, you will be part of a multi-disciplinary team assisting employers and injured workers in returning to work. Your team will include claim managers, field representatives, occupational nurse consultants, and account managers. You will contribute to innovative approaches to return to work that ensure timely and effective decisions through collaborative partnerships with injured workers, employers, private vocational providers, and medical providers.

L&I is evolving to a culture that focuses on achieving return to work outcomes and we need vocational professionals to contribute their skills and ideas to our success. We are expanding our team and invite you to learn more about Vocational Service Specialist (VSS) openings at our Tumwater headquarters. Please contact us if you would like to have an informal conversation about this exciting opportunity, or apply directly.

Vocational employment opportunities

May 6, 2015

This is your chance to join L&I and help injured workers heal and return to work. Become a part of one of our amazing teams who support L&Is cutting-edge Return to Work (ERTW) programs. We currently have openings in the Early Return-to-Work and WorkSource programs, and the Vocational Dispute Resolution Office. We also have openings in our vocational unit that supports our claims operation (see separate posting on this page).

We have jobs available in Seattle/Bellevue, Mt Vernon, Everett, Tacoma and Tumwater. Please contact us if you would like to have an informal conversation and learn more about these exciting opportunities, or apply directly.

Private career schools update

May 5, 2015

Recently L&I published requirements for VRCs when submitting a retraining plan with a private school. We are updating the requirements to the following: Rather than submit an entire school catalog, VRCs need only submit that section of the catalog that pertains to the proposed program. All other requirements remain in place.

Vocational profile performance scoring suspended for May 2015

May 1, 2015

The vocational performance metrics will not be updated for May, 2015, due to CAC issues that prevented many VRCs from submitting electronic PRs. All metrics will continue to display data from the 1 April, 2015 update while we continue to validate receipt of timely progress reports.

On April 8th, VRCs were instructed to fax progress reports to the claim file so that the reports could continue to be validated for timeliness.

For more information, please look at this document.

The new plan approval template is ready

April 28, 2015

The new Plan Approval Request Report located on the Plan Development webpage is designed to reduce delays by making it easier for

  • VRCs to submit the right information, and
  • L&I vocational specialists (VSSs) to find the information they need.

The Department worked with volunteers from private sector, the Vocational Technical Stakeholders Group (VTSG), and VSS staff to design the new report. The encumbrance forms were also revised except for the Plan Transportation Cost Encumbrance (F245-375-000) which will remain the same for now.

To assist vocational providers in completing the Plan Approval Request Report and new encumbrance forms, there are four short training videos. The New plan approval Request Report is required for all state fund cases and will be effective 30 days from todays date.

We are currently obtaining a CEU to watch the videos and take a quiz on completing the Plan Approval Request. Watch Whats New by May 15th to obtain one continuing education credit.

If you have questions, contact your assigned VSS or use the Plan Approval Request Mailbox: PlanApprovalRequest@LNI.WA.GOV

Changes to the Cost Encumbrance Form

The new cost encumbrance form replaces codes R0340 (books) and RO315 (equipment) with one code: RO312 that will cover Books, Supplies and Equipment. VRCs are still required to enter separate amounts for each of these three categories on the cost encumbrance form. This change will:

  • Reduce the need for VRCs to submit multiple plan modifications.
  • Simplify the number of codes for vendors.
  • Make it easier for the department to move training funds on previously approved plans.

To avoid potential problems, please alert vendors so they are aware of this change when they bill for new vocational plans. For plans that were already approved using the old cost encumbrance form, vendors should bill using the codes listed on the form for that plan. In most cases, this change will not require a plan modification.

We're renaming the PCE!

April 9, 2015

As part of a capacity evaluation improvement project that began last year, we are updating our terminology to Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE). Learn more about the name change, work done by the Therapy Stakeholder Group, a new Worker Fact Sheet and other changes at our project website. You can also review and provide feedback on draft proposals as they become available. Currently we are seeking comments on the draft Capacities Summary form and Report Summary Template.

Progress report submission issue

April 8, 2015

In the past few days L&I learned of a potential problem with filing progress reports through the Claim and Account Center (CAC). We have found errors due to unrecognized character formats that generally occur when "cutting and pasting" between programs. VRCs are encouraged to try typing notes directly in the progress report or pasting the information into Notepad, and then coping and pasting that into the progress report. A permanent fix is being worked on.

If you are still unable to submit a report by the required date, then fax the document to the claim file. The VRC must then notify the Vocational Performance Measures Administrator at 360-902-4854 of the claim files affected. Once notified, we will verify the timely receipt of the report:

  • When the fax is received by the "timely if received by" date, the report is considered timely.
  • Reports not received by the "timely if received by" date will be considered late.

If you have faxed but not reported your submissions to the Vocational Performance Measures Administrator, please do so prior to April 21, 2015, so the report can be reviewed for timely credit. We are currently processing all notifications for faxed progress reports and will provide timely credit in accordance with the above standard.

Point of contact for this action:

Jody Witham
Vocational Performance Measures Administrator
Insurance Services
Department of Labor and Industries

VSS WorkSource regional partnership newsletter

March 4, 2015

Want to know whats happening at WorkSource? Call or email our WS VSSs and ask to be added to their distribution list. You will receive the latest WS L&I Partnership Newsletter noting events, labor market information, and current job openings.

Objective approach to labor market survey

March 2, 2015

Vocational representatives from the Washington Self-Insured Employers Association (WSIA) approached L&I to discuss how to make labor market surveys more objective, how to ensure a more consistent product and how to make them easier to administer. With this goal in mind, the vocational representatives worked with a number of other vocational providers in the community to develop an alternative approach to labor market surveys. A description of this work can be found in this document.

The alternative approach relies heavily on objective labor market data from Federal, State and County resources, while still validating information with specific employers when necessary, for example when the JA doesnt match the physical requirements of the objective labor market data.

L&I believes that all parties can benefit from a more objective approach to labor market surveys. The alternative option presented to L&I appears to provide this objectivity, while reducing burden on employers and VRCs.

Aged AWA project

February 12, 2015

Starting this month, VSS staff will be reviewing AWA referrals that have been open more than 300 days. They will contact the VRC if appropriate, document an action plan and determine if the referral should remain open or close it as appropriate. In most cases, the VRC will be contacted to collaborate on addressing barriers. A special outcome code will be used when closing some of the referrals. The code may only be used by department VSS staff. The code will be used when no other closing code applies and issues need to be resolved before vocational services can proceed. The code, ADMX will be a neutral outcome for both the VRC and the department vocational performance measure. The VSS will capture information about each claim and document an action plan in RLOG and ORION.

A project like this occurred in 2010 and was very successful in identifying barriers on aged AWAs. We hope that the current effort will contribute to our goal to help injured workers heal and return to work

Private career schools

February 11, 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, effective immediately when you submit an in-state retraining plan with a licensed private school you must include a copy of the schools WTECB-approved course catalog. The program identified in the plan must match a 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.

AWA standard work reduces delays

February 3, 2015

About a year and half ago L&I partnered with the vocational community to develop VRC standard work. Many VRCs have adopted these standards as best practices to help injured workers heal and return to work. We believe this is having a positive effect. AWA progress reports now carry fields where the dates for these activities are entered by the VRC.

  • Please make sure you fill in these fields. As of December 2014 the dates entered on the progress reports are being collected in the L&I data warehouse. This will give us the opportunity to further align vocational services with the agency goal of helping the injured workers heal and return to work.
  • Please note that even with all of the barriers that the vocational community is documenting, you are meeting the deadlines about 70% of the time!
  • Please keep reporting the barriers you are encountering so the department can help you get these referrals resolved and the injured workers back to work.

Thank you for your efforts to reduce delays in our system!

Resume services

January 29, 2015

As a reminder, Labor and Industries may reimburse vocational providers for providing resume assistance on their open vocational referrals. We believe that this will contribute to the agency goal of helping injured workers heal and return to work. For additional information please see the Vocational Payment Policies in the 2014 L&I Medical Aid Rules and Fee Schedules.

Cell phones

January 29, 2015

Labor and Industries allows individual VRCs the alternative of listing their cell phone numbers on the ORION vocational referral screen. The goal is to increase effective communication between VRCs and claim staff and contribute to 2 of our agency goals, helping injured workers heal and return to work and making it easy to do business with L&I. Use the VRC Primary Contact Form for the specific purpose of updating VRC phone numbers. The form was sent to all firm managers last year. If you need a copy, or have any questions, please contact Rheo Aieta at 360-902-5447.

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