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Only 28 Months Of Benefits? Extension Doesn't Apply To Me? Long Read


mariorivera830

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*I will keep the email conversations updated as they come. I tried to keep names out of them.

I used the GI Bill in 2004, the post 9/11 GI Bill in 2011 and am now starting the voc rehab program. I started my educational career at DeVry for computer engineering about a year after coming back from Iraq and wasn't getting any help for anything. I didn't know. Dropped out cause I needed a full time job.

2009 Got my PTSD rated at 30% and thought I could try school again. While working full time and with a family of 5. Didn't work out, because work wouldn't let me have the time I needed.

Now, I am trying to use this program to start a whole new degree. engineering was far too difficult for me at the time (physics kicked my ass), so I took the skills evaluation test and found to be pretty decent at finances and detail recognition. Who knew? So I went to my couselor at this thread:http://http://www.hadit.com/forums/topic/57023-long-motorcycle-ride-to-my-initial-vr-e-appt-yesterday/

and thought everything was going well. Then I start really reading our emails and I know for a fact that she's spewing some pretty hard to swallow stuff.

Any advice on what I should have done or what my steps should be, would be appreciated. Thanks guys.

7/29: Me

We met last week to get on the road for voc rehab and after some soul searching and conferring with my wife, we believe that working in the business management (accounting) side of things would best fit my personality, aptitudes and disabilities (as you mentioned in our meeting :)). I did alot of research and even some personal interviewing of some government accountants at the city level where I was told by another veteran that there is plenty of room for advancement and that she didn't foresee any issues with my disabilities.

I have filled out the form you requested and had the senior admissions officer from Phoenix University, where I intend to pursue my degree as the schedule allows me to limit the amount of time spent in a group setting, go over it and input the information needed to be the most competitive as a prospective employee. Please let me know if there is anything that is needed in addition to what I have provided. Thank you very much for this life changing opportunity and I look forward to being a success story for many other vets.

The job announcements I have included as attachments are for the entry level positions in accountancy in local government offices and there are multiple positions open under the same announcement, but in different departments. Especially in different city and county departments. With the degree in Business Management with a concentration in Accounting, my opportunities for not only gaining employment that does not aggravate my disabilities, but will allow me to continue to grow personally and professionally, are greatly increased with the opportunity to potentially work from home while still being productive if the situation dictated.

I will have my resume completed and emailed to you tonight. Thank you again

7/30 Her:

Hi Mario,

I think the goal of accounting is ok but my concern is the time needed to complete the degree. Are you sure its going to take 50 months? You only have 28 months left of benefits. Could you check on the time needed? Another option would be to complete a two year degree in accounting at Norco College, or Riverside Community college, or Palomar or other colleges. You could look for jobs as a bookkeeper or accounts clerk for example.

7/30 Me:

saw that too, but we've done the math and with 28 months of BAH being saved plus student loans and scholarships that I will apply for I should be able to afford to continue the program while taking as little student loans as possible.

Also, after the first couple of terms I can assess my progress and ability to handle the workload and can take an extra class to help speed up the timeline.

Thank you for responding and if there is anything I can do to help alleviate as much of the obstacles, please let me know what I have to do. I am dead set on completing this program. If there is any way I can extend my benefit term, please let me know what it is I have to do. I am free all week long

7/30 Her:

I can only approve a plan that will have you completing the program you start under this program and finding work.

7/30 Me:

I just picked up my mail and I received my disability letter and I am now rated at 100%. Does that help prove a serious employment handicap that will help wave the eligibility period?

Thanks Mario

7/30 Her:

It will not make a difference really since its more about the months you have left and not the eligibility termination date.

7/30 Me:

Months left of voc rehab or post 9/11? I think I'm confused. I know I have that many months left of post 9/11 left but I thought voc rehab was a different type program.

7/30 Her:

You have a total of 48 months combined for all programs. Any program you use takes months away from the other. At this point you have 28 months left if needed but that would be the most to work with.

7/30 Me:

I would like to request an extension on those 48 months to be able to complete this program under 38 CFR 21.78 - Approving More Than 48 Months of Rehabilitation.

I will take as many courses that I have to to get this program under the 50 months. I know that I CAN take a few of the classes online concurrently but there are only certain classes available to do that. If I can have that limit extended I can have a revised education plan drawn up and submitted as soon as I get confirmation that I have been extended. Thank you so much and I hope to be sending enrollment and verification paperwork shortly.

Also I had the admissions officer submit a plan that includes taking some online courses while attending on campus classes cutting the program down. I will continue to take some extra classes once I am comfortable with the workload.

On a side note; can you point me in the right direction as far as accommodations go for work, since I am now rated at 100% for PTSD alone. Thanks again

7/31 Her:

Ok Ill take a look at the education plan from the school when I receive that. Your job would include a job goal that is suitable for your disability of PTSD depending on how the PTSD effects you and what environments would aggravate the condition. Do you think you are ready for work? You need to be able to work full time to participate in this program. I would not want to put you into a plan if you are not ready for full time work.

The extension of months would only be applicable to someone who used their months already and then become injured and could no longer do the job that applied to the education. You are not in that situation. The extension requires an a request an approval and must be required for someone to find suitable entry level work. That does not apply to you.

7/31 Me:

I am currently working full time in the job that we spoke of during our meeting. I am absolutely capable of working full time in the right environment.

So what you're saying, for my plan, is I have to change my plan to something that only requires less than 28 months to complete? Also a field of study that doesn't require a bachelor's or better to be competitive in the hiring process?

If you could give me all of the guidelines that I have to adhere to; Time frame, goals, regulations, PTSD limitations and what my educational outcome should be, I can make a plan that should not have to be altered again. I also need to know if I have to redo my employment bulletins since I was looking into fields that required a bachelor's or better, and start looking for jobs that only require a certificate of some sort that offers less salary and/or benefits.

Also as far as the regulation for extension of benefits goes, I have highlighted the parts that I believe pertain to me personally. If this is the case, then how do I officially submit a request to have my original plan considered under this statute?

I would utilize the final 28 months of eligibility then utilize an extension of 20 months (maximum) to complete my employment goal. I will also be able to drop the months of extension after the first 3 or 4 sessions of class, when I will be able to gauge which classes will allow me to take a concurrent online course during the program to help speed up the time needed to complete it. Ultimately, the goal for myself and the admissions officer, is to complete the program between 36-42 months without my academics and subsequently, my employ ability, suffering.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3695)

(b) Employment handicap. A rehabilitation program for a veteran with an employment handicap may only be extended beyond 48 months when:

(1) The veteran previously completed training for a suitable occupation but the veteran's service-connected disability has worsened to the point that he or she is unable to perform the duties of the occupation for which training had been provided, and a period of training in the same or a different field is required. An extension beyond 48 months under Chapter 31 alone shall be authorized for this purpose.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3105©(1)(A))

(2) The occupation in which the veteran previously completed training is found to be unsuitable because of the veteran's abilities and employment handicap. An extension beyond 48 months under Chapter 31 alone shall be approved for this purpose.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3105©(1)(B))

(3) The veteran previously used education benefit entitlement under other programs administered by VA, and the additional period of assistance to be provided under Chapter 31 which the veteran needs to become employable will result in more than 48 months being used under all VA education programs, under these conditions the number of months necessary to complete the program may be authorized under Chapter 31, provided that the length of the extension will not result in authorization of more than 48 months under Chapter 31 alone.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3695)

(4) A veteran in an approved Chapter 31 program has elected payment of benefits at the Chapter 30 educational assistance rate. The 48 month limitation may be exceeded only:

(i) To the extent that the entitlement in excess of 48 months does not exceed the entitlement previously used by the veteran in a course at the secondary school level under § 21.4235 before December 31, 1989, or

(ii) If the veteran is in a course on a term, quarter, or semester basis which began before the 36 month limitation on Chapter 30 entitlement was reached, and completion of the course will be possible by permitting the veteran to complete the training under Chapter 31.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3013, 3695; Pub. L. 98-525)

(5) The assistance to be provided in excess of 48 months consists only of a period of employment assistance (see § 21.73).

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3105(b))

© Serious employment handicap. The duration of a rehabilitation program for a veteran with a serious employment handicap may be extended beyond 48 months under Chapter 31 for the number of months necessary to complete a rehabilitation program under the following conditions:

(1) To enable the veteran to complete a period of rehabilitation to the point of employability;

(2) To provide an extended evaluation in cases in which the total period needed for an extended evaluation and for rehabilitation to the point of employability would exceed 48 months;

(3) To provide a program of independent living services, including cases in which achievement of a vocational goal becomes feasible during or following a program of independent living services;

(4) Following rehabilitation to the point of employability:

(i) The veteran has been unable to secure employment in the occupation for which training has been provided despite intensive efforts on the part of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the veteran, and a period of retraining or additional training is needed;

(ii) The skills which the veteran developed in training for an occupation in which he or she was employed are no longer adequate to maintain employment in that field and a period of retraining is needed;

(iii) The veteran's service-connected disability has worsened to the point that he or she is unable to perform the duties of the occupation for which the veteran has been trained, and a period of training in the same or different field is required;

(iv) The occupation in which the veteran previously completed training is found to be unsuitable due to the veteran's abilities and employment handicap.

(5) The assistance to be provided in excess of 48 months consists, only of a period of employment assistance. (see § 21.73).

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3105©(2))

(d) Approval of extension beyond 48 months. All extensions of a rehabilitation program beyond 48 months of total entitlement under all Department of Veterans Affairs programs requires the approval of the counseling psychologist and concurrence of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Officer. Concurrence of the VR&E officer is not required for an extension due to provision of employment assistance (see § 21.21).

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3105(b))

[49 FR 40814, Oct. 18, 1984, as amended at 54 FR 4283, Jan. 30, 1989; 57 FR 57108, Dec. 3, 1992]

7/31 Her:

Please do not provide me information on the guidelines. I am very aware of these and how they pertain to each individual that applies for services and have many years of experience. As we discussed in counseling one of your higher interests is with business detail. There would also be many sedentary jobs with business. Some of the PTSD symptoms that you have will need to be resolved with the help of counseling and treatment for example learning to control the anger which effect any type of job. In addition your grades were low from previous attempts with school. I would suggest starting with a two year type program due to months available and past issue with low grades and see how it goes. We also discussed the issue of you having a family to support and the time available for you to pursue education and get into a suitable job. Look at what jobs you think you would like that you could get into with a two year or shorter term program.

7/31 Me:

I am not trying to be one of those guys who think they know the regs better than you all do, but when you say that I am not entitled to an extension for one reason or another to complete the plan I have assembled, after I have done everything that you asked me to do (find a career within my abilities, within my disabilities, that has growth, and makes myself most appealing to employers) and then read the regs on this type of extension for my particular issue, is a little disheartening when I feel like these regs do apply to me.

It was my understanding that the purpose of the program was to obtain gainful employment, something that a certificate or associates degree cannot provide me in this field. Are there any jobs that would provide the same salary range and opportunity for advancement as Business management with a concentration in acccountancy? Something that I can complete in those 28 months? Because I couldn't find one. I have the aptitude, knowledge and tenacity to compete in this field and my disabilities will be taken care of through counseling, and accommodations.

The class schedule for the program in my plan is one 5 hour day a week for 5 weeks and an online course when the course load allows me to take it during the same session. Not only have I planned for the preparation of employment in the business/accounting field with a bachelors degree, my wife and I have planned for the time needed personally to complete my assignments and how our financial situation will be effected.

You keep suggesting that I find a job that only take 2 years to complete, but unless you are telling me that I have to change my plan and that Icannot receive an extension to complete the plan I have assembled, I would really like to keep pressing the issue for the plan that is already assembled.

What is it that I have to do to prove to you, or whoever you report to, that this is a solid plan that I can and will complete? If this issue is only about the months of benefits, shouldn't that be cleared up with the extension requested? If the issue is my PTSD, I have counseling set up and am on a regiment of meds already. If the issue is scheduling with my job, that is something that I have brought up to my superiors and they are on board with this program giving me an opportunity to stay with the company I am at now, but in an office setting rather than production. If the issue is my prior schooling, I was reaching too far with the engineering degree and stretched myself too thin. Now that I've done that aptitude test I know now that I don't have the skills for that, but I do for this as evidenced by my results. Mine and my family's future hinge on this program. And I will do whatever it is I have to do to show my wife, my children, the VA and you that I am making this plan work.

Here is the Accountant's summary according to the occupational outlook handbook. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-1

7/31 Her:

They dont apply to you. please read my email on what Im suggesting.

7/31 Me:

Here is a plan that has a max term of 24 months. It is for an associates degree, maybe by the time I'm close to completing the program the requirements will soften. Thanks

8/4 Her:

Ok thanks. Do you have some job announcements for work you can do with the two year degree?

8/5 to 8/13 just little dumb questions and answers for job listings.

8/14 emails about the 1905 and who its supposed to be emailed to

8/14 Me:

Thanks , He is getting the required email address, is there anything else that I need him to get so that I can have everything I need before the term starts? I was told that I should ask for the instructions to request other supplies and hardware that are needed for the program. Such as a desktop computer with all of the software needed for my program, a printer/scanner combo, a tablet with handwriting capabilities to help with some of my disabilities for memory and note taking for backup to my PC and a wifi hotspot internet service? Is there a form I need to fill out or should I just send you a list? I ask because Frys is having a great sale for back to school, and the prices are super cheap. But I think that I can price match them to best buy since their mobile site isn't the best. All of these tools will help tremendously with school and for the short (hopefully) time needed for finding a job. Thanks

8/14 Her:

YW J

You can request a computer after you have completed courses under this program successfully. After you submit grades I can give you the paperwork for a computer request. I can reimburse for internet if you give me the bill showing you made the payment. I cannot pay more than $60 for the internet. These would be the only items that I can assist with in the program.

8/14 Me:

Thanks, but my only question is; How can I complete any courses without a computer? I have to use my wife's iPad or my phone for everythingright now. Typing is hard enough, not to mention formatting. Unless there is a form that I can submit to get our old desktop fixed. It's pretty old, but should be good enough to type papers. What are the only things you are allowed to assist with while I am in the Vocational Rehab program? I don't want to sound unappreciative, but these are things that I need just to get started.

The requirements for this program on the PC are here: http://www.phoenix.edu/students/how-it-works/online-resources/computer_requirements.html

again, I'm not trying to be confrontational, but I really need one.

8/18 Me:

Afternoon . Hope you had a good weekend. Any word on the paperwork needed to get started for school? Thanks.

8/18 Her:

I understand the situation. Are you able to go to the library to use the computer and printer? The reason we are required to wait for the computer request is because computers were requested and people were not dropping out of school and not serious so have to show successful completion of courses with the computer request for the boss to sign.

I received the info on who to send the 1905 and will send that this afternoon.

8/18 Me:

Thanks for sending that out . About the library, that's not really a great Idea for me. The library is not the biggest and every time I've walked by there, just a few times, it's been packed. And my anxiety kicks I pretty bad in smaller congested places. But that's why a tablet like the Samsung note 12.2 is perfect because I won't be limited to standard computer areas while using its handwriting features to help keep notes backed up to help with my short term memory. Thanks again.

Edited by mariorivera830
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Mariorivera830,
1. The computer program is like that most places, they don't want to waste money with people who fail
2. The plan is to get you employable after the 28 months since you did not meet the Employment handicap.
3. First things first before you start an education plan is to increase your Employment handicap so that you can use the full 48 months, I had to do this in order to set up my graduate degree. I suggest reading " The Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans"- It really helped me out.
4. If you do not get the Employment handicap then you have to look at jobs that you can do with an associates so that they will pay for at least half, when you think about it the program is just to get you employed. So there has to be a job at the end of the tunnel for you or they will not approve it. Book keeping would be good as a goal but allows you to use the funds needed.
5. If you had a job when your SC was 30% and then lost it after your SC turned 100%, Then I think that falls into
(2) The occupation in which the veteran previously completed training is found to be unsuitable because of the veteran's abilities and employment handicap. An extension beyond 48 months under Chapter 31 alone shall be approved for this purpose.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3105©(1)(B))
Nothing I write is meant to be hostile, just giving advice.
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  • HadIt.com Elder

Many many years ago the VA suggested and then approved a small loan to my husband to get some work done on his vehicle while he was in Voc Rehab.I wonder if they have any benefit like that these days that would help you acquire a good computer.

He didn't need much work done on the car but was traveling to his job atVA and then to Corning College almost every day and the problem would have gotten worse.

Also he asked for and received 2 accommodations from the college to his PTSD.

PCs....... I went to school under Chap 35 ( AMU degree) on line.

This is funny now but at the time I panicked....

I had been getting by with the older PC at first but one of my professors sent me a CD in the mail for his AmerIndian warfare course.I had just enrolled into and the CD contained some of his lectures I needed for the syllabus as well as Indian War chants he wanted us to listen to.

I could not open the CD and no way I could listen to the war chants at a library if they had no headphones for their PCs yet.

That is when I called my PC man to square me away.

I found I had to upgrade right away to the best PC I could get and then to satellite internet service.

Even though this was an online college I also needed the best printer I could get as well.

My favorite prof ( Major USMC AD) actually took a point off my A for my first submission of homework to him because I had not centered the cover page. It was off by one pixel and when I realized that I was so burned out I thought he would not notice it but he did. He called me up from Quantico to chastise me.

Then again he was the toughest college prof I ever had, and didn't like the idea that I,.as a civilian, had enrolled into a Military school.By my graduation however his tune sure changed.

My point is this......

As you know already, colleges judge our PC skills these days and want accurate submissions of homework.

A syllabus these days is nothing like it used to be.....

Wordpad wont do it.... Open Office org will.

Also ... I haven't been in a campus college for many years.... I wonder if traditional colleges ask for submissions via Power point these days. In 2006 one of my Profs asked for a power point presentation.

We had a few open class discussions on this on line with the prof and many of the students (all military but me) tried to get this idea changed because Power Point is a little challenging at first and then can be LOTS of fun.

I guess my point here is that you do need a very good PC and I hope there is a way you can get one at little or even no cost.

Libraries are not a good options for anything like this......

I had to have some exams I took as proctored.

I had to make an appointment with a libraian (proctor) who would get email from my prof and some codes, and then she would give me access to the exam and time me.Then she would email the exam I took via PC back to my prof for grading.

It usually worked out OK except for when I had to get proctored in the summer when the PCs were being used by kids playing games.

They had headphones on, that wasn't the problem, but if they stopped playing some would start to talk to me....even when I said I was taking a timed exam, so I had to use headphones just to limit the distractions. Different word processing programs, keyboards,etc etc and slower service than I had at home were some more problems with using a library for college work.

I live in a very rural community and our libraries are often 20-30 miles away with different hours times.None are open every week day and some have no Saturday hours.Also they charge for print outs and often their printers are lousy.

So the stress of all that is a factor too, for libraries really being unfeasible for college work.

I haven't read this post yet from Ben Krause....maybe something in there that can help....maybe not:


http://www.disabledveterans.org/2014/08/19/make-va-voc-rehab-counselor-love/

Also I was told I could apply for Pell Grants when I was in college under Chap 35 but I never did.

I wonder if anyone knows if this is possible under Chap 31 as well.

Have you had contact with the potential school's financial aid officer as well as their VA counselor?

Edited by Berta
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Perhaps I missed it in your email communications with your counselor, but I do not recall any mention of the possibility of your 100% PTSD rating being reduced if you work. It is my understanding, primarily from reading posts on this website, that a veteran rated at 100% for a mental disorder, including PTSD, can not work.

Perhaps you have already considered the possibility of your rating being reduced and your preference would be to work rather than receive the 100% rating. I just wanted to make sure this is something you have considered.

Good luck you

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Mariorivera830,

1. The computer program is like that most places, they don't want to waste money with people who fail

2. The plan is to get you employable after the 28 months since you did not meet the Employment handicap.

3. First things first before you start an education plan is to increase your Employment handicap so that you can use the full 48 months, I had to do this in order to set up my graduate degree. I suggest reading " The Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans"- It really helped me out.

4. If you do not get the Employment handicap then you have to look at jobs that you can do with an associates so that they will pay for at least half, when you think about it the program is just to get you employed. So there has to be a job at the end of the tunnel for you or they will not approve it. Book keeping would be good as a goal but allows you to use the funds needed.

5. If you had a job when your SC was 30% and then lost it after your SC turned 100%, Then I think that falls into

(2) The occupation in which the veteran previously completed training is found to be unsuitable because of the veteran's abilities and employment handicap. An extension beyond 48 months under Chapter 31 alone shall be approved for this purpose.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3105©(1)(B))

Nothing I write is meant to be hostile, just giving advice.

Thank you. I just bought that guide and I have yet to read it. I have no idea on how to increase my employment handicap. But I will by this afternoon. Thanks. I have a few more questions about raising my handicap, but I will save them until I read the guide.

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