We tell our clients to completely cooperate with their vocational rehabilitation counselor. The 2 main reasons are they could find you a job you would like and give them no excuse to cut off your check. Unfortunately there are many very bad vocational rehabilitation counselors. I also know some very good ones. The problem is that the insurance company usually hires the ones that will document anything to cut a client’s check off. Yes I have clients (usually older clients) who can no longer do heavy labor and
do not want to be a receptionist or a Wal-Mart greeter even though they can
do the job and they try to resist placement. Please remember their income
has already been cut by 1/3rd so there is no real incentive to stay on
Workers compensation as the insurance company lobbyists have the general public
believe. Also, if you are fired because you were out of work for six months
due to the injury and are released by your Doctor, there are no vocational
benefits-your WC check just stops and you are on your own.

Vocational Rehabilitation is only for those who have permanent physical disabilities due to the accident. But the problem I have is that this is the 1st time any of them has been injured much less had to deal with workers comp and the details and technicalities
of Vocational Rehabilitation.  I have to prepare them for what happens more often than not.

For example, recently, a vocational rehabilitation counselor tried to get my elderly CAN female client a job at a highway rest stop cleaning bathrooms-yes she could do it but very cruel on her emotionally. I have many voc counselors to tell my clients to lie on a job application if it says they have any prior injuries or accidents or to leave it blank. I could tell you numerous
stories of bad voc rehab counselors-I could tell you stories of good ones
too and I am sure the counselors you know are very well intentioned and
serve their clients well. However, Workers Compensation insurance adjusters
and defense attorneys routinely tell me that if we don’t settle (for a low
amount) then they will put my client into voc rehab- this is unfortunately a
valid threat. The voc counselors that they hire know that if they can say
the client didn’t cooperate by not returning a phone call or was late to a
meeting with them a few times, the weekly check is cut off for 6 months or
longer.  To have no income for six months because of an allegation has
literally destroyed many of my clients- the check eventually gets reinstated
but their house is gone, car repossessed and a huge amount of debt which
will take years to get out from under. The damage is too great not to warn
my clients.

The rules in workers compensation in Virginia are very detailed
and unfortunately the purpose/spirit of the law gets lost. But please look
at the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission’s website- the number one
reason for Vocational rehabilitation is to help the insurance company not
have to pay anymore. It is not to help the injured worker find a job with
benefits, career fulfillment; teach new skills or anything to create self
worth and mental stability.  Even though the injured worker has had a major
life changing event, will never be the same and can never be a nurse again,
the voc rehab laws have no compassion and I can’t guarantee any client that
they won’t be cleaning interstate rest stop toilets so the insurance company
can save $300 a week.