What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘rehabilitation’? Your answer might come out from the dictionary but for rehabilitation for an injured worker, it is more than just that. The process isn’t straightforward and depending on your state, there are different rules and requirements for the program to take place. A worker needs to understand his or her responsibilities so that he or she wouldn’t be missing out on wage loss benefits. This article explains what employees need to know.

When it comes to compensation, the word ‘rehabilitation’ has two varying meanings. Usually, people think rehabilitation has to do with someone overcoming injury or they think it is a kind of rehabilitative care or physical therapy to regain normal human functionality. To go deeper, there is another type called the “vocational” rehabilitation. Many states in the US will offer some workers this latter kind of rehabilitation. It is for those workers who are unable to go back to their former jobs. These workers are entitled to “vocational” rehabilitation even at the expense of the career compensation expected from their employers. A personal injury lawyer can better help explain the difference between the two.

What one state may offer to an injured worker in terms of amount or the type of vocational rehabilitation differs from state to state. It is the duty of the worker to familiarize themselves with the law of the state. Generally, the possible services under the program which an employee is entitled to enjoy include:

  • Training on the job
  • Completion services for resume and job application
  • Transferable skill testing and analysis
  • Surveys of the labor market
  • Interview skills and other technical assistance
  • Job analysis
  • Job search assistance.
  • Wage assessment and deep evaluations
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Reasonable accommodation assistance provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Medical case management
  • Ergonomics assessments
  • Education and Tuition payments for retraining

Usually, there are things that will determine the number of benefits that an injured employer is capable of enjoying. The factors are; the situation of such an employer and the situation must comport or be in accordance with the statutory and regulatory limitations.

What are the Duties of the Employee?

According to many of the states, the first and simplest responsibility of an employee when it comes to vocational rehabilitation is ‘acceptance’. They should ‘accept’ the rehabilitation. In other words, the employee should cooperate with the process of rehabilitation, appreciate the aim and the effort, and agree to go back to suitable employment. This is according to many states but some have a different view, demanding a different set of requirements. As an example, some states demand that the injured employee shouldn’t engage in both vocational rehabilitation and physical rehabilitation.

Notable Difference in Some States

In California, an employee is expected to ask for vocational rehabilitation. However, the time frame for such a request is from any period until 15 years after the date of the injury. It elapses after 15 years.

If you don’t show a level or total cooperation with the provider of rehabilitation services, there might be a reduction in the workers’ compensation carrier. In fact, they might suspend it, leading to loss of wage benefits for the period you fail to cooperate.

What are the Responsibilities Expected of Employers?

No, it is not the employee alone that has responsibilities to perform in this case. Employers and even the workers’ compensation carriers have responsibilities, statutory and regulatory roles that they must execute. For instance, some states want employers to provide counseling and rehabilitation services to the employee who is injured and has lost about 60 days from work in this period. The provision must be given within a stipulated time of 5 days after the 60-day threshold has been marked. In a different situation where the employee suffered a back injury, the lost time for days of work can only be 30 days. After that, the employer must provide rehabilitation counseling. Some states extend the threshold a bit longer, 120 days when the employer has lost, as a result of the injury, ‘suitable employment.’

For some states, the responsibility of the employer includes providing items like living expenses, tuition, room and board, plus regular wage loss benefits during the period in which an employee is undergoing a set of specific vocational rehabilitation programs. Depending on the states only qualified people are allowed to offer vocational rehabilitation assistance to injured employees. Specifically, Certified Rehabilitation Counsellors (CRC), Certified Case Manager (CCM) or Certified Management Specialist (CDMSs) are those who may give professional rehabilitation help to injured workers in certain jurisdictions.

Working While Under Workers’ Compensation 

You may have the desire to work while you are receiving worker compensation, but he law says no. When you can’t do your regular job and duties because of injury, and you are being compensated, the law says you can’t get another job. You can always talk to your lawyer to ask questions and seek legal answers. At times, you may be allowed to perform light or simple duties. You are expected to report any form of income to the employer, the one who is compensating, or their insurer.

What to do if You Have any Other Questions About Rehabilitation Rights

Perhaps you have suffered an injury while working on a job. It is the responsibility of your employer to provide for your care and needs relating to the injury. This extends of course to some additional support. Common to certain cases, you will be entitled to some vocational rehabilitation programs. Now, this might seem like a normal occurrence on paper until the injuries happen and the employer is backing away from the expected responsibilities. What will you do?

You need to contact an attorney who would enlighten you on the next action to take and how to present your case so that your employer pays their dues. The lawyer has the legal knowledge about this kind of case and they know what and what rules bind the provision of rehabilitation in your state. They will listen to your honest side of the story and use it as a basis to demand what is your right.