What's New for Vocational Counselors

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Register now for L&Is Spring Vocational Conference

May 3, 2016

L&Is Return to Work Partnerships is hosting the 2016 Spring Vocational Conference Wednesday, June 8, 2016, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the L&I Tumwater building.

Our exciting agenda focuses on embracing return to work and using best practices and new tools. The agenda builds upon the Washington International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (IARP) conference to enhance the skills and knowledge for practicing vocational rehabilitation providers. L&I and IARP collaborated to ensure that the two educational programs are not repetitive.

Registration and parking are free. You can purchase your own lunch at the cafeteria or a nearby restaurant. Pending approval through CRCC and CDMSC, CEUs will be available, including 1 for ethics, for a total of 6.5 CEUs.

You can register now here.


L&Is Preferred Worker Program web page now lists interim guidelines

May 2, 2016

L&Is Preferred Worker Program web page now lists interim guidelines the department is using until the preferred worker rules are finalized. You can view the website here.


Vocational Profile Performance Report Suspended for May 2016

April 26, 2016

Data for the vocational performance report will not be updated May 1, 2016. This means vocational performance scores during May will continue using data from the January 1 report.

We're suspending the performance report because technical issues in the last few months continue to make it difficult for VRCs to submit progress reports. In some cases the system displays links for progress reports that have already been submitted or it generates links for referrals that have been closed.

Our IT staff continue to work on correcting the technical issues and we are also currently conducting manual verification to give credit for timely progress reports.

What you can do:

  • Call Janice Orcutt at 360-902-4854 or email at Janice.Orcutt@Lni.wa.gov if you faxed a progress report or if the link does not go away after a report was submitted.
  • Ignore progress report links that say a report is due after a referral was closed by L&I and/or you sent your recommendation using VocLink. We will ensure these are not included in your performance score.
  • Double-click your recommendations via VocLink to make sure it gets pushed to LINIIS and will be recorded in our system.

We are fully committed to ensuring the Vocational Profile accurately reflects VRC performance and will refresh the report when we are confident the underlying data is accurate.

We appreciate your patience, perseverance and dedication in sending monthly reports. Your diligence helps claim managers and others stay apprised of the progress were making to help workers heal and return to work.

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


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 Washingtons 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; Mount Vernon (WorkSource); Tacoma (ERTW); Spokane (ERTW); Tumwater (VDRO); Tumwater (PSRS). You can read more about the benefits of working at L&I here.

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.


New FCE Standards and Resources

April 7, 2016

In an effort to help workers heal and return to work, L&I initiated an improvement project regarding Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE) with a focus on quality and timeliness. You play a significant role.

Based on feedback from the Vocational Technical Stakeholder Group, Therapy Stakeholder Group, and various pilots, we've:

  • Adopted new standards regarding this service which will go into effect July 1, 2016 for State Fund claims.
  • Created new resources when communicating to the attending provider after an FCE.

Find these new standards and resource documents on our FCE project web site. You will be able to learn more at the Spring Voc Conference.


Secure Messages

March 29, 2016

The department has recently enhanced our Secure Message function so medical providers can attach relevant documents for claims staff review. This enhanced Secure Message function is only to be used by medical providers. These messages and documents are imaged as medical (MED) information in ORION.

Please do not submit vocational information using this function as it will be imaged incorrectly. Continue to use the EVOC function and fax the vocational information to the claim file. This will avoid any confusion and delays that may be caused by the vocational messages and documents being imaged incorrectly.


Status of L&Is publications with updated Option 2 information

March 16, 2016

The following publications are updated with current Option 2 information:

*Note: To eliminate an unnecessary step, we removed the workers signature page from Plan Development: What Are My Rights and Responsibilities?

  • Carrying Out Your Vocational Plan: Your Rights and Responsibilities during Plan Implementation

When to use the Option 1 Plan Modification Accountability Agreement

March 15, 2016

If modifying a plan, remember to use the Option 1 Plan Modification Accountability Agreement (F280-056-000). This form is only needed when modifying a plan previously agreed to by the worker, such as changing duration, courses, or schools. However, if the modification doesnt affect what the worker previously agreed to do, a new Accountability Agreement is not needed. For example, its not needed when requesting additional funding or reallocation of previously approved funding.

This information has been added to the For Vocational Providers webpages. Click on Referral Types and choose Plan Implementation / Monitoring to view the update.


AWA referrals nearing fee cap pilot process

March 2, 2016

The department is making new AWA referrals to VRCs much earlier in claims and asking the VRCs to keep the AWA referrals open while the worker is still in medical treatment to keep the worker and employer focused on return to work.

There are also a number of older, complex, and extended duration AWA in the system that are nearing the fee cap.

To provide continuity of services for the workers and employers, reduce unnecessary delays, and mitigate long term disability, the claims unit VSS will collaborate with the VRC in a pilot to keep these referrals moving toward resolution. View the pilot process (203 KB PDF).


Spring Vocational Conference

March 1, 2016

Please save the date June 8, 2016, for our Spring Vocational Conference. The focus will be on reducing long term disability through understanding the psycho-social issues that workers may face when they are in our system and encouraging employers to access the many return to work incentive programs L&I has available. We hope to see you there.


Option 2: End of academic quarter or three months training

March 1, 2016

For plans approved on or after July 31, 2015, workers can elect Option 2 through completion of the first academic quarter or three months training.

  • In a vocational program with an academic quarter system, the completion of the quarter is the last day of finals.
  • In a vocational program without an academic quarter system, the completion of three months training is 90 days after training started.

This information has been added to the For Vocational Providers webpages. Click on Referral Types, choose Plan Development, Plan Development Questions & Answers and Plan Implementation / Monitoring to view the Option 2 updates.


Join our Audit Team!

December 24, 2015

These are exciting times at PSRS. Were working with our VRC partners to design a world class vocational audit program. Become a part of an amazing team who support L&Is cutting-edge Return to Work Partnerships (RTW) program that helps injured workers heal and return to work, makes it easy to do business with L&I and helps honest providers by cracking down on dishonest ones.

Interested? Click HERE to view the full job announcement and to apply!


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 here.

  • 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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