What's New for Vocational Counselors

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Testing Credentials

December 22, 2016

With the exception of self-administered test such as Career Scope, most vocational tests require the test administrator to possess specific credentials to administer, score, and interpret the test. Depending on the test, the qualifications may range from a bachelor's degree (usually in a specific field such as psychology) to Master's degree with 1 or 2 graduate level courses in testing administration and psychometrics. Psychological tests such as intelligence tests can only be administered by a licensed psychologist (Ph.D. or Psy.D.). It is the responsibility of both the referring VRC and the testing administrator to be sure that the tester's qualifications meet the requirements of the test publisher. This is both a legal as well as an ethical consideration.

It should be noted that few vocational tests allow for the test to be administered by a proctor, even when supervised by a credentialed counselor.

Qualifications can be found in both the testing manual and from the test publisher's website.

The information in this announcement has been added to the Aptitude and Interest Testing vocational Web page.

VRCs Exceed Standard Work Expectations

December 7, 2016

A little over three years ago, L&I partnered with the vocational community to develop some “VRC Standard Work” guidelines. We are seeing incredible results because many VRCs have adopted these standards as best practices to help injured workers heal and return to work!

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 22 days.
  • The providers are reviewing those job analyses in an average of 37 days.

These are all 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.
  • Keep reporting the barriers you are encountering so we can help you get these referrals resolved and the workers back to work.

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

Testing Enhancement Project

November 9, 2016

The Department does not specifically require a VRC to test an injured worker's aptitudes as part of retraining eligibility. To assist in clarification of this issue, section 3F of the Ability to Work Non-Eligible Assessment (77 KB MS Word) and Ability to work Eligible Assessment Closing Report (62 KB MS Word) and Sections 5L and 5M have been removed from the revised Plan Approval Request Report (84 KB MS Word). Please discontinue using the previous versions.

You are invited to attend the 11/14/16 VTSG meeting in Tukwila which will include an overview of observations and insights from the testing enhancement project and discussion of next steps.

Learn about Option 2 vocational services

November 8, 2016

A worker can use up to 10 percent of their Option 2 training fund for vocational counseling and job placement services if both of the following are true:

  • The worker's plan was approved on or after 7/31/2015.
  • L&I has granted the worker’s Option 2 election.

L&I's new web pages about Option 2 vocational services explain:

  • What services qualify.
  • Who may deliver services.
  • How to submit reports.
  • How to submit bills.

You can find this information under the Option 2 Benefits heading on the Vocational Services page (previously called Referral Types).

PSRS supervisor career opportunity

November 3, 2016

This is your opportunity to be part of exciting and important changes in how L&I, in partnership with private vocational providers, helps injured workers heal and return to work. The Private Sector Rehabilitation Services (PSRS) Supervisor (governmentjobs.com) leads a team of professional vocational staff whose job is to ensure that the highest quality vocational services are provided to injured workers and employers. There is a new focus to our quality assurance efforts, one that emphasizes the public/private partnership, education and collaboration. You can be part of creating this new approach!

Webinar Information – LMS/R

October 13, 2016

During the recent vocational conference many of you requested the link to the LMS/R webinar. The webinar is within the training archives (wsiassn.org) of the Washington Self-Insurers Association.

Fall Vocational Conference – Slides

October 13, 2016

Thank you for attending the 2016 Fall Vocational Conference. The topics included High Disability Risk Identification and Early Intervention, Psychosocial Determinants Influencing Recovery, Ethics, Career Bridge, Building a Supportable Labor Market Survey, Option 2, and Activity Coaching. View the slide presentation (234 MB PDF).

If you have any question, concerns, or ideas for future conference topics please contact Cami Jones at Cami.Jones@Lni.wa.gov or 360-902-4915.

Submitting Vocational Progress Reports and CAC Availability

October 7, 2016

It can be frustrating when you’re trying to submit progress reports and CAC isn’t working. To reduce the chances of this happening, it may be helpful to know:

  • Due dates for progress reports always occur on a workday. The “timely if received by” date is five calendar days afterwards and may fall on weekends or holidays. Waiting until the last day and then encountering CAC access problems can increase both stress and workload.
  • 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.
  • If you are unable to use CAC to submit an electronic progress report, you must fax the progress report by the “timely if received by” date in order to get credit for a timely report. Please be sure to:
    • Fax the report to the claim file. (Do not fax or email a copy to Janice Orcutt.)
    • Keep a copy of the fax confirmation.
    • Notify Janice Orcutt the report was faxed, providing the claim number and your contact information.

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

Learn about the Preferred Worker Program

October 5, 2016

Visit the updated Preferred Worker Program (Lni.wa.gov/PreferredWorker) webpages to learn about:

  • eligibility
  • how to apply and get benefits
  • preferred worker certification
  • vocational and medical provider responsibilities
  • job and accommodation resources


Fall Vocational Conference Agenda

October 3, 2016

Here is the agenda for the Fall Vocational Conference (277 KB PDF). We are excited to see you Wednesday, October 5, from 8:00-4:30.

Please contact Cami Jones at 360-902-4915 if you have questions.

Eligible Private Vocational Schools Reminder

August 31, 2016

Labor and Industries is required by statute (RCW 51.32.096)(3)(b)) to use only training providers (schools) that are licensed, accredited, or exempt from licensure and approved by L&I, for worker retraining. Find more information about the specific requirements on our Eligible Programs page.

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.

New Preferred Worker Request form is now available

August 26, 2016

VRCs now have a more active role in assisting workers and employers benefit from the Preferred Worker Program. Instead of waiting until the end of the claim, the VRC can request preferred worker status as soon as:

  • The specific, permanent work restrictions are known, and
  • No further curative treatment is planned OR the worker is at or near maximum medical improvement.

At the same time, the VRC can now help the employer of injury or a new employer qualify for preferred worker incentives by assisting in the development of a new, medically-approved job that will continue to be available into the foreseeable future.

To assist VRCs with their new role, we’ve revised the preferred worker forms. The new Preferred Worker Request (F280‑060‑000), effective August, 2016:

  • Combines two old forms (Preferred Worker Status Request and Intent to Hire Preferred Worker) into a single form - the status request is on the front and the job approval request is on the back.
  • Requires specific attachments to prevent delays.
  • Gives instructions at each step and lists examples of attachments needed.

The new form, dated 8-2016, is listed on the Preferred Worker Program webpage, which will be revised to reflect the new rules soon.

Do NOT attach the Preferred Worker form and supporting documents to other vocational reports. If you attach the form to other vocational reports, send incomplete information, or use outdated versions of the form, services to the worker and/or hiring employer will be delayed.

Please recycle all discontinued forms.

CEUs are now available for attending VTSG meetings

July 19, 2016

CRCC and CDMS Commission have approved a process by which CEUs can be obtained after attending VTSG meetings.

VTSG agendas are rarely determined in time for pre-approval of CEU credits. Consequently, approval numbers for verification of CEUs are not obtained until after VTSG meetings.

In order to receive credit for attending VTSG meetings, a signed evaluation form with email address needs to be completed at each meeting. Anonymous feedback can still be provided with an additional unsigned evaluation form.

Signed verification of completion forms specifying number of CEU credits will then be separately emailed to all participants who completed the evaluation forms. Announcements are not considered to be an agenda item for CEU credits.

See the VTSG meeting schedule.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Rheo Aieta at Robert.Aieta@Lni.wa.gov or 360‑902‑5447.

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 worker’s 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.

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 Washington’s 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; Tacoma (ERTW); Spokane (ERTW). You can read more about the benefits of working at L&I.

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.

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 (www.gsa.gov).

  • 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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