If you qualify for vocational retraining, your vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC) will explain the vocational process to you. The VRC will work with you to develop a retraining plan aimed at helping you return to work.

When choosing a training provider, you must use an L&I-approved school. If you choose a school or training program that isn't approved, the school may apply.  Find additional information on our Schools and Training Programs page. 

If you have questions, comments, concerns, or complaints about a school, email L&I's School Oversight Program

Once we approve the training plan, the VRC will help you understand your 2 options:

  • Option 1 is to follow your L&I-approved plan.
  • Option 2 allows you to develop your own plan.

If you choose Option 2

If you are a worker who has chosen Option 2, you can create your own vocational training plan. After we confirm your Option 2 election, we will:

  • End time-loss benefits.
  • Issue Option 2 benefits:
    • A vocational award (an amount of money usually equal to 9 months of time-loss compensation), and
    • Training funds to use for school.
  • Close the claim.

If you need help or have questions about using your Option 2 benefits, call our Option 2 specialists at 360-902-9135. For example, they can:

  • Help you apply for your training funds.
  • Tell you the balance of your vocational award or training funds.
  • Answer questions about equipment and supplies and out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Find out if a specific training provider is an L&I approved school. 
  • Answer your school 's questions.
  • Help you find a vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC) in your area to help you with counseling and/or job placement.

Training funds - getting help from a VRC

You can use up to 10% of your training funds to get help from a VRC. They can help you with services such as:

  • Creating your own training plan.
  • Job development, including contacting potential employers on your behalf.
  • Job readiness and interview practice.
  • Job search and job application assistance, including targeted resume development.

Exception: You cannot use your training funds for vocational services if we approved your Option 1 retraining plan before July 31, 2015.

How to find a VRC

You can:

  • Use the VRC you worked with during plan development/implementation, or
  • Contact our Option 2 specialists at 360-902-9135 for a list of VRCs in your area.

Working with your selected VRC

Here’s what you may expect when working with your selected VRC. You will:

  • Work with the VRC to create a service agreement to meet your goals.
  • Share access to claim documents with the VRC if they ask.
  • Receive vocational services from the VRC.
  • Sign the summary report the VRC will give you. Your signature verifies you received the stated services.

You may switch to a different qualified VRC any time during the 5-year Option 2 training period if you have enough funds left for Option 2 vocational services.

If you have a complaint about the Option 2 vocational services, call the Option 2 specialists at 360-902-9135.

Your training funds - when available and what you can use them for

Training funds are available on the date we mail you a legal order and notice confirming your Option 2 election. You have up to 5 years to apply to use the training funds.

  • The vocational retraining funds aren’t a cash award. The funds may only be used to pay for L&I-approved schools or programs and certain expenses. Your Option 2 funds can't be used for other types of expenses, such as on-the-job training. For more information, see Option 2: What You Need to Know (F280‑036‑000).

Before you start your training

  • If your claim was covered by a self-insured employer, contact the employer or its representative to find out how to get started.
  • If your claim was insured by L&I, complete Part A of the Option 2 Training Application (F280-024-000). Then, ask your school’s registration official to complete Part B. Be sure that you or the school sends us the completed form by mail or fax:

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
PO Box 44291
Olympia WA 98504-4291

Fax: 360-902-5035

Questions from schools

The school or training program can call us—or the employer if it is self-insured—after you give written permission to release claim information to the school or training program.

Vocational award

The Option 2 vocational award is money to help you transition from time-loss payments to potential employment, schooling, or other plans you may have after your claim is closed. The amount paid depends on the time-loss benefit rate you were entitled to and the date we approved your Option 1 training plan.

Vocational award lump sum payment

We may authorize a lump sum payment at our discretion. If you wish to receive a lump sum payment, send us a request in writing and include your claim number. Send your request to:

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
PO Box 44291
Olympia WA 98504-4291

If we approve your request, you will receive the remainder of your award once 70 days or more have passed from the mailing date on your claim closing order.