A: If an injured worker is under an award and is able to work in some capacity, but is not able to return to his or her pre-injury job, then the workers’ compensation insurance company may assign a vocational rehabilitation counselor to assist the injured worker in finding a job. It is usually done after permanent restrictions are assigned by the treating physician but can be done before the restrictions are permanent. vocational rehabilitation after a work related accident is meant to accomplish two ends:
- To return the injured worker to some form of employment; and
- To mitigate the expenses of the employer in terms of accident work compensation payments, as a result of the injury
It is required that the injured worker participate if it is offered but calling it a “benefit” is somewhat misleading. It does not mean that the employer or insurer is interested in helping the injured worker find a job that is interesting, useful, or enjoyable by the injured worker – only that the employer or insurer wants to find the injured worker a job that pays him or her money so they do not have to. It also does not mean that the employer or insurer is required to pay for the injured worker to return to college or get any real form of helpful job re-training. It usually means requiring the injured worker to complete his or her GED or take online typing courses or basic computer classes to make it easier for the employer and insurer to find the injured worker a job that pays wages so they do not have to.
It is important to realize that, as far as the insurance company and employer are concerned, the chief objective of vocational rehabilitation is to stop paying the injured worker’s weekly lost wage check. This can be done two ways using vocational rehabilitation:
- Finding a job for the injured worker; or
- Gathering enough evidence that the injured worker is non-complaint with vocational rehabilitation in order to file an application to terminate the injured worker’s wage benefits.