The ordinary definition of rehabilitation could mean physical therapies or other medical care for the purposes of recovering from an injury. But in workers’ compensation, there is also another meaning to rehabilitation called vocational rehabilitation. A lot of states would enable injured workers to a vocational rehabilitation if they can no longer go back to their former employment because of the injuries they suffered. This kind of rehabilitation will be at the expense of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
Depending on the state, vocational rehabilitation may include:
- Job analyses
- Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling
- On-the-job training
- Resume and job application completion services
- Job search assistance
- Transferable skills analysis and testing
- Education and Tuition payments for retraining
- Interview skills and techniques assistance
- Labor market surveys
- Wage assessment evaluations
- Ergonomics assessments
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reasonable accommodation assistance
- Medical case management
The vocational rehabilitation benefits that an employee may receive depend on their specific circumstances, as well as what the laws of their state dictate.
Responsibilities of Employees
In a lot of states, all that’s required of an employee in order to receive vocational rehabilitation is to simply accept it. It follows that upon acceptance, the employee will be cooperative as far as the vocational rehabilitation goes and put efforts into returning to an appropriate employment. Some states, however, may not require the employee to participate in either physical or vocational rehabilitation.
In California, an employee needs to request for a vocational rehabilitation. However, they can only make the request after 15 years from the date of their injury.
Warning: The workers’ compensation carrier may reduce or even suspend, for the period of non-cooperation, the wage loss benefits of an employee who refuses to cooperate with rehabilitation service providers.
Responsibilities of Employers
Just as employees have responsibilities regarding rehabilitation, the employers or their workers’ compensation carriers also have responsibilities that are mandated by laws and regulations.
There are some states that require an employer to offer rehabilitation counseling services to the injured employee when the injury caused a loss of 60 days from work. The employer must give the offer within five days after the 60th day of the injured employee’s missed work. But for the employers of those who suffered back injuries, the lost time required to make an offer is 30 days. There are also some states that require employers to offer vocational rehabilitation within 120 days if the worker lost a suitable gainful employment because of the injuries they suffered.
There are also states that require the employer to pay for items such as the following in addition to regular wage loss benefits if the employee is under vocational rehabilitation:
- Child care expenses
- Living expenses
- Room and board
- Travel expenses
Some states have strict requirements as to who are allowed to provide vocational rehabilitation. Some of the examples of those allowed are individuals who are:
- Certified Disability Management Specialists (CDMSs)
- Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRCs)
- Certified Case Managers (CCMs)