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What's New for Vocational Counselors

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Save the date for the November 2, 2018, L&I Fall Vocational Conference

September 4, 2018

The L&I Fall Vocational Conference will be held on November 2, 2018, at the L&I Tumwater building. The theme will be "Tools to Prevent Work Disability." Topics will include Vocational Recovery Project, Preferred Worker, and Helping Workers Maximize Option 2 Benefits, among others. There will also be an hour of ethics CEUs available.

Please watch this site for additional information, including how to register.

Plan Modification Tips

August 27, 2018

The VSS team cannot approve over 50% of plan modifications as submitted. Here are the most common reasons for phone calls and denials.

  1. Encumbrance Forms: When submitting a plan modification request, be sure to include all of the encumbrance forms (time, cost, and transportation). Even if the change is only to one form, we can reduce bill-paying issues if every plan modification includes all the forms.
  2. Missing Accountability Agreements: If the modification changes anything that the worker is responsible for, such as changes in time spent retraining, the curriculum, or the order of courses, then a new accountability form should be included with the request. Use the Option 1 Plan Modification Accountability Agreement (F280-056-000) version and if the worker is Spanish speaking (and not legally represented), be sure to use the Spanish version (F280-056-999).
  3. Wrong type of request: If equipment is needed to accommodate restrictions due to the industrial injury, request these using the Pre-job Accommodation Assistance Application (F245-350-000).

If you are unsure of the request, please call your unit VSS before submitting the plan modification.

2018 Workers' Compensation Conference in Olympia

August 15, 2018

Advance your knowledge of workers' compensation while earning CEUs! Join us October 4 – 5 for the "Meeting of the Minds" Workers' Compensation Conference, presented by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Project Help, and the Department of Labor and Industries.

Industry professionals will share information such as:

  • Calculating Benefits
  • Vocational Recovery
  • BIIA Topics
  • Serving our Workers with Catastrophic Injuries
  • Mock Trial
  • Occupational Hearing Loss Claims/Related Services

Hotel RL Olympia by Red Lion
2300 Evergreen Park Drive SW
Olympia WA 98502

Get more details and register online at Project Help (

Attention Secure Access Washington (SAW) users – cosmetic changes coming!

July 24, 2018

Many L&I customers use Secure Access Washington (SAW) to log into resources and services at L&I and other state agencies. This message is for L&I customers who access our web resources through Secure Access Washington, so you know what’s ahead for the site.

SAW users will notice a new look and feel on August 3. The site will work the same as always - it will just look different (Old Login Screen; New Login Screen). You can continue to use the same username and password and will have the same access you had before the upgrade.

The improved site will automatically adjust to your screen size so it works better on phones and tablets, and a streamlined signup process makes it more user-friendly for new users.

If you have questions or experience problems with the new site, contact

Vocational Technical Stakeholder Group (VTSG): new meeting notes posted online

July 23, 2018

The most recent VTSG meeting notes are here (357 KB PDF). You can learn more about VTSG, find the meeting schedule, and read previous meeting notes on the VTSG webpage.

Vocational Professionals and Claims Investigations

July 18, 2018

Labor and Industries recently shared important information (123 KB PDF) with our Claims staff, clarifying who investigators may contact for assistance.

L&I and Workforce Board partner to ensure quality education

July 10, 2018

Three years ago L&I partnered with the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (Workforce Board) to help them change their statute and subsequent rules so that agency-sponsored students could also be included under the Workforce Board’s oversight jurisdiction.


As a result of the new rules, last year the Workforce board investigated a complaint from an injured worker who attended Zale Technical Institute (no longer in business). The worker alleged that Zale created a "Parking Lot Attendant" program specifically for him and that the courses he was promised were not taught.


The Workforce Board's investigation found two unfair business practices:

  1. The worker should not have been admitted to the original plan (Business- Customer Service) because of very low academic skills and significant language barriers.
  2. The Parking Lot Attendant program had not been approved by the Workforce Board. This approval is required under the Workforce Board's school licensure agreement.


The Workforce Board initially ordered Zale to pay L&I a refund of all the worker's retraining costs billed by Zale. After learning that Zale had closed, the Workforce Board used their Tuition Recovery Trust Fund to refund the costs to L&I directly.

Our continued partnership with the Workforce Board will help ensure that workers receive quality education now and in the future.

VSS Staff updates

July 2, 2018

L&I has added a new unit of claim managers– Unit Q. VSS staff have been realigned to support Unit Q.

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

Vocational Recovery Project featured in national blog

June 15, 2018

One of the highlights of our June 1 vocational conference was a talk by Bob Wilson, president and CEO of Bob stayed around after his talk and got to hear VRCs and L&I claim managers talk about their experiences on our Vocational Recovery pilot. Their comments inspired him to write a blog, “With Vocational Recovery Project, Washington L&I Returns to Return to Work. The Private Sector Should Pay Attention to Their Results.”

Maximum vocational training fund adjustment

June 11, 2018

The maximum vocational training fund is increasing. This change is the result of an annual adjustment required under the statue governing vocational rehabilitation services.

The training fund amount is directly linked to the plan approval date.

If the plan is or was approved:

  • July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019, the amount is $18,294.57.
  • July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018, the amount is $17,885.00.

The amount of the maximum training fund applies regardless of whether a worker chooses Option 1 or Option 2 after plan approval.

Activity Coaching Referral form updated

June 11, 2018

We have updated the Referral for Activity Coaching Program form (F245-413-000). Effective immediately, use this updated version dated 04/2018, available online.

Changes include:

  • Moved activity coach fax to top of page and added program information.
  • Added “Activity Coach Preference” to Other Information area.
  • Added a For Department Use Only section to bottom of page.

How does this change affect vocational providers?

  • Vocational Counselors should discontinue use of the old form and start using the updated one.
  • Clarifies it is the attending provider who signs the form.

New process: Employment Security Department records

June 11, 2018

We heard you! L&I has a new process that eliminates delays in obtaining records from the Employment Security Department (ESD).

By signing box 43 of the Report of Accident, a worker authorizes L&I to get ESD records. So now, within 10 days of an Ability to Work Assessment referral, our team member will obtain up to 10 years of the worker’s employment history and send it to the claim file.

If after 10 days, the records are not in the claim file and box 43 is signed, please contact the claim manager to request the records.

Please note that although the ESD records only go back 10 years, vocational counselors should continue to document a complete work history and address any gaps in employment.

New website for Vocational Recovery Project

May 30, 2018

Read about how the work of the project is getting done. The site includes Frequently Asked Questions that will be updated as the project progresses.

You can revisit the site in coming months to learn about proposals emerging from the project. This work will shape how vocational services are provided to workers in the future.

ADMX Pilot Clarification & Resolving Barriers

April 16, 2018

On 3/26/18, Return to Work Partnership VSS staff began loading ADMX once they receive an EVOC request. VRCs no longer need to submit EVOC updates on the ADMX once it has been granted. However, it is critical that the department and vocational community strengthen their efforts to identify and resolve barriers as soon as they appear. Therefore, the expectation is for VRCs to immediately contact their VSS, preferably using EVOC, when barriers are identified and partnership is required to overcome them. This applies to all referral types.

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