When you’ve been injured at work, you should have a Virginia workers compensation attorney on your side to help guide you through the process. For many injured employees, there will come a point when the doctor says you’re able to return to work on light or modified duty capacity. If you are not able to return to your former job, and/or your employer does not have any light or modified duty work for you, the insurance company may begin the process of vocational rehabilitation.
The goal of vocational rehabilitation is to get you to return to work as soon as possible and stop paying you a weekly check. While getting you back to work certainly can be an admirable goal, the insurance company usually has their best interests, not necessarily yours, in mind. They want to save themselves the money of having to send you a weekly compensation check so they want you to find a job as soon as possible.
The Vocational Counselor
When you are required to work with Vocational Rehabilitation for your Virginia Workers Comp claim, the Insurance Company will assign you a Vocational Counselor that you will be required to meet with, either in person, over the phone, or by video chat. The Vocational Counselor will ask about your educational background, special skills, and work experience as well as your injuries and light-duty limitations set by your doctors. The Vocational Counselor may even assist you in writing a resume and they will work with you to apply for jobs in order to get you back into the workforce once you have been deemed able by your workers comp treating doctor.
While getting you back to work for the insurance company is understandable from a pure numbers perspective, you may be asked to do things that you don’t feel are in your best interests. Things like:
- Traveling long distances for applications, interviews, or potential employment
- Taking a low wage-earning job
- Taking a job you do not like
- Applying for, interviewing for, or taking a job that you are not sure you can physically do
- Applying for, interviewing for a job that you don’t qualify for
- Interviewing for, applying for, or taking a job that does not suit your schedule
I’m NOT saying Vocational Rehab is Bad
I’m really not. Vocational Rehabilitation can be a great tool for you to be able to return to the workforce after a serious injury. What I am saying, however, is that your Virginia Vocational Counselor and the insurance company likely have goals that do not align with yours. The Counselor’s job is to find you a job and the insurance company wants you off their payroll, it’s that simple.
Make sure you consult with a Virginia Workers Compensation Lawyer to safeguard yourself against being bullied into doing anything that is not in your best interest. Vocational Rehabilitation can be a requirement to continue your works compensation lost wage checks, however, a lawyer can help you better navigate this system to make sure you are meeting all of your requirements while protecting your benefits, advising you along the way, and offer any additional options you may have (like settlement, for example).
About the Author: Michele Lewane
The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers' compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” , or call our office today (804) 755-7755.