This is a must have for veterans in VA Voc Rehab or even thinking about getting into the program. VA counselors must follow its rules no matter what, so it helps veterans predict what to do and when to do it.
Recently, VA Voc Rehab updated its M28R Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Manual and I was quick on the scene to figure out how to download the over 1,400 page manual using ripping software to dump the chapters from VA.gov. I will say this behemoth was even bigger than the last updated version, which shocks me as to how they were able to rewrite 800 pages in just a few months.
BEWARE: These updated rules should only be applied to your claim if you made the claim after 3/31/14 unless the new rules help your claim. Otherwise, VA must apply the rules that were in place when you made the claim. This could be little more than highbrow trickery. I have not analyzed the difference between the manuals, so user beware.
The manual, usually referred to as the M28R, spells out exactly what Voc Rehab Counselors are supposed to do in practically every typical situation. Though you can be rest assured that no matter what, there will always be an issue where the rules are unclear. For that reason, do not be afraid to push the envelope. It has been my experience that counselors are somewhat unfamiliar with the manual as well as the regulations controlling the program.
Of course how could they be? This version updated almost 800 pages from the last updated version just four months earlier.
Here is a look at the VA Voc Rehab – hot garbage – version of the M28R in case you want to see it for yourself: http://www.benefits.va.gov/WARMS/M28R.asp. It is a mess and impossible to search through in a timely manner.
Generally, the M28R is almost impossible to search because VA turned it into literally more than 100 different downloadable PDF’s and Word docs. You have to download each one and search it for what you need, which takes hours and hours. In total, the document is over 1,400 pages. When VA uses the M28R to deny a veteran by citing its verbiage with giving the citation, the veteran would need to download numerous files to fact check.
Searching the M28R is important because Voc Rehab Counselors have made a habit of merely cutting and pasting denial justifications from its pages without providing citations. You need the citations to ensure the counselor is interpreting the manual properly.
It is very easy to search when you download the huge manual here. Search the PDF by pressing “Control” and “F” at the same time (Cont + F). The search bar should pop up. You can then type in the term or phrase your Voc Rehab Counselor cited in the denial letter.
Be sure to check VA WARMS for updates often as we make no guarantees that the version for download here contains the most current versions as VA updates these all the time. Our most recent update is from 3/31/2014 that we pulled down, paginated and reposed here this week. VA pagination generally makes searching the entire manual difficult and cumbersome, so I created a Bates Stamp on the bottom of each page and a somewhat useful table of contents.
To throw a monkey wrench in their game of confusion and overburdening resourceful vets, I decided to use a scraping software program to pull down the manual and then put it back together using Acrobat. You’re welcome
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Benjamin Krause is an award winning investigative journalist, attorney, and disabled veteran of the US Air Force, where he served in its Special Operations Command. He wrote his guide, the Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans, after winning his long fight for benefits against VA to help other veterans do the same. Benjamin is a graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota Law School using VA Vocational Rehabilitation.