You have followed your doctors’ treatment recommendations and spent countless of hours in physical therapy and work conditioning, but nonetheless your recovery has plateaued. You have been informed by your doctor that you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (in other words she has done all that she can do for you). You are given permanent work restrictions that prevent you from returning to your original position and your employer has indicated that they do not have a job for you. So, what happens next?
Work injuries that lead to permanent restrictions and a decrease in earning power entitle the injured worker to vocational rehabilitation, at the cost of the employer. The goal of vocational rehabilitation is to return injured employees to gainful employment within their work restrictions.
Typically, vocational rehabilitation will begin with an assessment of the injured worker’s transferable skills. An individual plan will be developed based on the worker’s education, past work history, transferrable skills, worker’s interests, and work restrictions. The injured employee is assigned to a vocational rehab counselor, who may provide the following benefits:
Labor market survey to determine available jobs in the area
Resume review and writing assistance
Job interview skills
Provide job leads
Computer skills (i.e. keyboarding and Microsoft office training)
Classes for job retraining
Provided that the injured worker is cooperating with the vocational rehab process, the employer is required to pay weekly maintenance benefits to the employee, equivalent to two-thirds (66.7%) of the average weekly wage. If the injured worker finds a job making less that what she would have been making at her original job, than the employer must pay wage differential benefits, which is equivalent to two-thirds of the difference between the wages from the original job and the wages of new job.
If you have sustained a work injury that prevents you from returning to your original employment, it is important that you retain knowledgeable attorneys that will demand the benefits you are entitled to and help you navigate through the vocational rehabilitation process.
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