What's New for Vocational Counselors

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Vocational Technical Stakeholder Group (VTSG): meeting January 22

January 15, 2019

The first meeting of 2019 is next week, on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. You can view the agenda here (442 KB PDF).

Reminder: You can join us as an audience member and earn CEUs for your participation! Visit the VTSG webpage for additional information on upcoming meeting dates, times, and locations and to review meeting notes.


AWA referral text is changing

January 8, 2019

We've removed the standard language on AWA referrals. Claim managers can now use free text to give VRCs information specific to the claim.


New travel mileage rate effective January 1, 2019

January 8, 2019

Effective January 1, 2019, the personal vehicle mileage rate is $.58 per mile. The rate in 2018 was $.55 per mile.


How to request ADMX for all referral types

January 2, 2019

Beginning January 1, 2019, a VRC can submit a request for ADMX via EVOC for the following referral types:

  • Vocational Recovery (EI)
  • Ability to Work Assessment (AWA)
  • Plan Development (PD)
  • Plan Implementation (PI)

Once the EVOC is granted, VRCs don't need to submit EVOC updates on the ADMX. However, it is critical that L&I and the vocational community strengthen their efforts to identify and resolve barriers as soon as they appear. Therefore, as soon as a VRC identifies barriers, they should promptly submit an EVOC so they can collaborate with their VSS on how to overcome them. 

Note: Because the original fee caps for vocational referrals have increased, make sure you have exhausted the funding in the original fee cap before requesting ADMX.


Payment policy update

December 27, 2018

We are adopting the changes to the payment model for vocational services on January 1, 2019, as proposed. To everyone who gave us feedback, thank you; we will send you a response in early January.


Help identify and address psychosocial barriers

December 18, 2018

The first document below summarizes the actions we encourage vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs) to take to address psychosocial barriers they observe with workers.

The second document contains internal claims training content (originally shared at the L&I fall voc conference). This describes in-depth guidance given to claim managers who are talking to workers, providers, and employers. It also describes psychosocial interventions in detail and gives answers to some frequently asked questions. 

Questions? Please write to VocRecoveryProject@Lni.wa.gov


Proposed payment model clarifications

December 6, 2018

Our message on November 30, 2018, announced proposed payment modernizations effective January 1, 2019. We want to clarify that:

  • The fee cap increases will apply to all open referrals.
  • The proposal allows a vocational provider to bill professional time for a 30-day progress report up to a cap of $50 per report.

How to submit comments

If you have comments or questions about any of the payment modernizations L&I is proposing, please send them to the Vocational Recovery Project at vocrecoveryproject@lni.wa.gov.


2019 Vocational Technical Stakeholders Group (VTSG) meetings update

December 3, 2018

In 2019, VTSG will meet quarterly instead of every other month. This scheduling change will:

  • Allow us more time to act on feedback from the vocational community and VTSG members.
  • Support VRCs who participate regularly at VTSG and in the Vocational Recovery Project.
  • Help us create robust agendas for future meetings.

You can review the 2019 meeting schedule on the VTSG webpage.


L&I proposes changes in payment model for vocational services

November 30, 2018

L&I is modernizing certain payment policies to encourage the provision of worker-centric services envisioned under the Vocational Recovery Project. These changes follow several years when the hourly rates for vocational services did not increase.

Effective for services provided on or after January 1, 2019, payment policies will change in 5 areas, as summarized below.

  1. Professional rate: Increases the rate 4% for VRCs and interns
  2. Travel: Changes the starting point of the trip to the vocational provider’s primary branch office instead of the office where the referral was made. L&I staff will be working with firms to confirm the primary branch offices for their vocational providers. In many cases, the primary branch office will be the firm’s office located closest to a provider’s home. 
  3. Fee caps:
    1. Increases the fee cap for AWA to $6,760. This change is based on the experience of the ADMX pilot of the past few years. (All other fee caps increase 4%, consistent with the change in the professional rate.)
    2. With the exceptions of forensic referrals and stand-alone job analyses, the ADMX process applies to all other referral types.
  4. Job Modification and Pre-Job Accommodation: Clarifies and expands activities covered under consultation services 0823V/0824V. This includes exploring any type of modification and discussing L&I’s Stay at Work and Preferred Worker return-to-work incentive programs. 
  5. Progress reports: Limits billing for progress reports to $50 per 30-day report.
For additional details, you can review the updates to Chapter 30 Vocational Services on L&I’s 2018 MARFS Updates and Corrections webpage.

Self-employed workers and preferred worker benefits

November 26, 2018

In light of questions raised at the Fall Vocational Conference, there may be some confusion about self-employed workers eligibility for preferred worker benefits. Please note the following clarification.

Washington State law RCW 51.32.095(4) excludes self-employed workers from receiving preferred worker benefits. This means that:

  • Self-employed workers cannot be certified as preferred workers.
  • The Preferred Worker Program cannot pay employer incentives based on self-employed work.

Vocational conference slides are now available

November 20, 2018

Thank you to all those who attended the L&I Fall Vocational Conference on November 2, 2018. You can view the slide presentation here (PDF 1.7MB).

To address questions you asked about Disability Prevention and Management (DPAM), we are refining that portion of the slides and will post them on this webpage at a later date.


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.


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.

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