Chapter 10: When Is Vocational Rehabilitation Approved in a Workers’ Comp Case?
In addition to medical and disability benefits, an injured worker may also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits in a Maryland workers’ comp case. Vocational rehabilitation provides an employee with the assistance the employee needs to return to the workforce after an on-the-job injury. Some of the benefits of vocational rehabilitation include vocational counseling, testing, retraining, job placement, and training. A vocational rehabilitation specialist works with you to determine the services you need to be able to return to work.
How Can I Receive Vocational Rehabilitation Services?
If you cannot return to your previous job because of impairments caused by your workplace injury or illness, you may request vocational rehabilitation services. You must have approval from the workers’ compensation insurance carrier or the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) for vocational rehabilitation for the cost of the services to be covered by workers’ comp. If you believe you are entitled to vocational rehabilitation, but the workers’ comp carrier denies coverage, you may appeal the decision to the WCC and request a hearing in front of a Commissioner.
If you are approved for vocational rehabilitation services, your attorney can help you choose a public or private vocational rehabilitation counselor. The counselor meets with you to obtain background information about you, your job skills, your injury, and your physical limitations. Your counselor works with you to develop goals and a customized plan tailored to your needs and abilities. A finalized plan is presented to a WCC Commissioner for approval. After approval, you work with your vocational rehabilitation counselor to implement the steps in the plan.
Are You A Candidate for Retraining?
In most cases, a counselor begins by attempting to help you return to your job with modified duties or a different job in which you have transferable skills. If this is not possible, your counselor may suggest that you are a candidate for retraining. A retraining program cannot last longer than two years and must be approved as part of your vocational rehabilitation plan.
During your rehabilitation plan, you are entitled to receive Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits at your Temporary Total Disability rate provided you comply with the plan and the rehabilitation process.
Vocational rehabilitation can help an individual return to the workforce after a workplace injury or illness. However, it can be difficult to get all parties to agree to a rehabilitation plan. Working with an experienced Maryland worker’s comp attorney who understands the elements a Commissioner looks for in a feasible vocational rehabilitation plan can increase the chance your plan is approved.
The worker’s comp carrier won’t tell you that you are a good candidate for vocational rehabilitation. Check with a member of our legal team to see if you may qualify for this workers’ comp benefit. Call 410-661-9440 to schedule a free consultation with a Pinder Plotkin attorney.
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