For Workers Since 1985

Vocational rehabilitation might be part of workers’ compensation

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

When a Connecticut worker is injured on the job and is approved for workers’ compensation benefits, the objective is for them to get treatment and make a full recovery. Unfortunately, that is not always possible.

Some reach a certain point in their care and rehabilitation and cannot get beyond it. They can do some types of work, but not the same work they did before. This is common in physically arduous jobs, but it can happen in many types of employment.

In these situations, it is important to understand how vocational rehabilitation will be part of the process. It can lead to disagreements and disputes, so it is wise to be prepared and understand the various laws pertaining to it.

Know the facts about vocational benefits

There are several laws that cover vocational benefits under workers’ compensation. One centers on worker eligibility. The worker, the insurer, the employer, the commissioner or another interested party can ask for the worker to receive vocational rehabilitation benefits.

It can also be provided if the worker is deemed as having a permanent impairment which will disable them from performing the job they most recently performed and keeps them from doing similar work. It must be due to a compensable injury.

There are specific steps that must be taken when taking part in a vocational rehabilitation program. When the employee seeks vocational rehabilitation, they need to be evaluated to determine their needs. This includes physical limitations, psychological capabilities, work accommodation assessments, their past work experience, education level and what skills may be transferrable to other types of employment.

It must be determined whether they can get back to their previous job. A construction worker, for example, might have trouble doing the same duties they did before if they had a back injury. If they can, the vocational rehabilitation will not be necessary. If they can get back to the same job as before with modifications, the worker will receive help in finding suitable employment with those modifications. The medical limitations and abilities must be clear. If they are not, then vocational rehabilitation might not be feasible.

There must be a reasonable expectation that the program will result in the worker completing it successfully and finding employment they can do based on their skills, education and limitations. The program will look at the employment objective and decide on the likeliest scenario from going back to work for the previous employer with adequate changes to their duties; going back to the same employer after vocational rehabilitation; or re-employment in the labor market for another employer after completing the program.

The vocational rehabilitation program will have a plan and objectives to the worker to achieve. It will have a beginning and end date, data as to how to make it cost effective and a gauge of its cost. Once it is completed, the worker can receive job placement assistance based on what they can do and their work history. Those taking part in a vocational rehabilitation program can receive allowance payments for living expenses.

Injured workers should understand vocational rehabilitation

Workers who are seeking or are already receiving workers’ compensation benefits should be cognizant of the entire process and how they can be impacted professionally, financially and personally. From applying for benefits; being confronted with disagreements with doctors and insurance companies about whether the injuries have improved sufficiently to get back to the same job as before; or requesting vocational rehabilitation, it is important to be protected from the start to cover all the issues that will inevitably arise.