Veterans' Benefits

The CFFJAC Apprenticeship Training Program is authorized to offer veterans' benefits. Apprentices who have separated from the military within the past 10 years may be eligible to receive benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 30). Veterans who are active reservists may be eligible to receive benefits under the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 16 or Chapter 1606). Beginning in November 2011, Post 9-11 benefits (Chapter 33) may be used for On-the-Job-Training (OJT) as well as certificate and degree programs.

Benefits are paid for the term of apprenticeship, or until benefit entitlement ceases, whichever comes first. Veterans who receive VA benefits through the CFFJAC must comply with VA reporting requirements. For each month that benefits are claimed, the apprentice must send official verification of salary (via pay stubs or LES's) and documentation of training for that period. If you think you may be eligible for VA Educational Benefits, please contact CFFJAC at veterans@cpf.org.

The following are frequently asked questions and answers regarding Veterans’ Benefits. If your question is not addressed on this list, or if you need more information, please contact the CFFJAC at veterans@cpf.org or phone (916) 648-1717.

Q: How do I determine my eligibility for Veterans' Benefits?

A: The CFFJAC does not determine a veteran's basic eligibility for benefits. The VA web site, www.gibill.va.gov, can be used to obtain information about basic benefit eligibility. This site is not associated with the CFFJAC.

Q: How do I know if I qualify for my GI Bill benefits through CFFJAC?

A: First, your department must be a participating CFFJAC department. If your fire department is not a participating department in the CFFJAC, the veterans in your department will not be eligible for VA educational benefits under this program. The veterans from non-participating departments should contact VA to learn about other education reimbursement programs for which they may qualify.

Second, you must qualify as an apprentice in an apprenticeable occupation and have a signed, approved Apprentice Agreement on file with the CFFJAC. See CFFJAC rules and regulations for apprenticeable occupations and qualifications.

Q: What can I do if my department does not participate in the CFFJAC program?

A: Your fire chief, training officer or other authorized individual should contact the CFFJAC for information on participating in the CFFJAC program.

Q: My department participates in the CFFJAC and I qualify as an apprentice - how do I qualify for my VA benefits during this training?

A: If you have separated from the military within the past 10 years or are an active reservist, please contact us with any questions at veterans@cpf.org.

After confirming your information and eligibility for the apprenticeship program participation, the CFFJAC will send you a packet which includes VA forms to complete and sign. The completed forms, along with a copy of your DD-214, paystubs (which include details of hours worked and gross pay), verification of training completed and a voided personal check (for VA to send benefits via direct deposit) are to be returned to the CFFJAC, not the VA. The CFFJAC will forward your information to VA for processing. VA will determine your eligibility and the amount of your entitlement.

VA will send you either an eligibility award letter or a letter explaining non-eligibility. According to the "Department of Veterans Affairs Certification Guide for Apprenticeship and On-The-Job Training," the initial process through VA can take four months or longer.

Q: What role does the CFFJAC have in my VA Benefit process?

A: The California Fire Fighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee (CFFJAC) is a state-approved (by the Department of Industrial Relations - Division of Apprenticeship Standards) firefighter apprenticeship program. As such, the VA recognizes an individual from the CFFJAC as the Certifying Official for veterans who are enrolled in and qualify for benefits as firefighter apprentices. The CFFJAC is responsible to:

• insure that all apprentices are covered by a written Apprentice Agreement

• notify VA in writing when an apprentices' training is interrupted or terminated

• certify hours worked and training hours received each month

• maintain records as required by VA

Q: Will VA pay for the apprenticeship training that was completed prior to applying for VA benefits?

A: Generally, retroactive benefits may be paid up to one year prior to the date the VA receives the Enrollment Certification (VA form 22-1999).

Q: Who should I contact with questions regarding my paperwork?

A: Contact the CFFJAC veteran representative directly at (916) 648-1717 or veterans@cpf.org. Out of respect for your confidentiality, the CFFJAC veteran representative will provide information only to you. Please do not have someone else call on your behalf.

Q: I can't find pay stubs / payroll history. Can I still file for VA benefits under the apprenticeship program?

A: You may apply for benefits but you will not be paid for months that we cannot verify through pay stubs (LES's) and training hours reports. Ask your human resources/payroll department for copies of missing pay stubs or earning statements.

Q: Why can't I send my monthly reports directly to VA?

A: VA requires that all apprenticeship training be verified and certified through the training program. Your "Monthly Certification of On-the-Job and Apprenticeship Training" must be signed by the "Certifying Official" at the CFFJAC office. If the monthly reports are sent directly to VA, they cannot be certified by CFFJAC. VA will not process the forms that are not certified and you will not be paid. If VA should make payment after receiving a form that is not signed by the CFFJAC Certifying Official, you could be asked to return the money to VA.

Q: What must I do to assure timely receipt of my VA benefits?

A: Each month, send us the "Monthly Certification of On-the-Job and Apprenticeship Training" form which you may have received from the VA. Sign and date the form (8a & 8b). Do not have anyone else sign the form. Return this form, along with your pay stub(s) (which include details of hours worked and gross pay) and training reports for the month. Be sure all forms are completed according to the instructions. If you have not received your "Monthly Certification of On-the-Job and Apprenticeship Training" form, send pay stub(s) and training hours to CFFJAC. Forms can be mailed to the address below or faxed to (916) 922-0972.

CFFJAC
1780 Creekside Oaks, #201
Sacramento, CA 95833

Q: What should I do when I have not received my VA benefits in a timely manner?

A: CFFJAC certifies and forwards your forms and claims to the VA. We have no control over payments or the timing of payments.

First, be sure that your "Monthly Certification of On-the-Job and Apprenticeship Training" form, pay stub(s) and apprenticeship training records for the month have been sent to CFFJAC.

If CFFJAC confirms that information has been received and has been forwarded to VA, wait. The VA process may take up to 45 days to process each monthly certification and issue payment.

Q: I want to purchase a house and I need proof of veterans' income. Do you provide something I can give to my lender?

A: CFFJAC does not provide income documentation but the Award Letter you receive from VA shows the approximate monthly payments you will receive.

Q: What if I don't receive payment?

A: Contact CFFJAC and let us know when you last received a payment. If sufficient time has passed since VA was billed, we will contact VA for an explanation of the non-payment.

Q: What if I have a change of address or phone number?

A: Notify CFFJAC and we will send the information to VA for you.

Q: What if I decide to go to go to college and collect VA benefits through the school?

A. It is imperative that you contact CFFJAC and let us know your first day of school. We will then submit a form to VA that will drop you from the OJT program so that you can begin collecting VA benefits through your school. If you complete a certificate program or a college course or degree and wish to resume collecting OJT benefits, first make sure that your school has dropped you from their VA benefit program, then contact the CFFJAC and let us know your last day of class so that we can send the proper paperwork to VA to start (or re-start) you in the OJT program (you must have a current apprentice agreement on file with CFFJAC).

Q. What if I am deployed while my Apprentice Agreement is still active?

A. When you receive your orders, call, write or email us and let us know your deployment dates so that we can classify your Agreement as "Inactive". Contact us when you return to the fire department and let us know your first day back in the department. When your last day in the department prior to deployment and your first day back in the department are verified with your training coordinator, your apprentice agreement may be extended.

Q: How will I know if I have entitlement remaining?

A. When you have exhausted your entitlement, VA will send you a letter explaining the termination of your benefits.