At our law firm, we always encourage injured workers to return to work as quickly as possible. You would be earning more income and you would have a more positive image of yourself when working. It helps the financial and mental health of the entire family. Also, if you choose your work, you are choosing your own destiny and making your own choices, as opposed to the vocational rehabilitation counselor forcing you into a job that he or she finds for you. This does not mean, however, that you should just jeopardize your health and go back to work before your doctor says that you are ready to do so. It’s important to make sure that the job has been approved by your treating physician. Don’t allow the vocational rehabilitation counselor to talk you into inappropriate situations.
Many rehabilitation counselors try to coax a worker into saying that he is capable of doing almost any type of work, even when the worker knows he can’t. The counselor will take these statements, blow them out of proportion, and use the statements against the worker in a termination hearing. They will ask the worker such things as whether he climbs a ladder or if he can use hand tools and whether he does his own dishes or mows his own lawn. If the worker says, “No, I can’t climb a ladder or use the tools,” the counselor will say, “Are you sure? Aren’t you willing to try?” Again, such statements will be blown out of proportion and used against you. Another thing that the vocational rehabilitation counselor may try to do is convince someone to go into business for himself. Many times, workers are lulled into settling their case for less by vocational rehabilitation counselors who convince them that they could start their own business with money that they receive from settling their workers’ compensation claim. This is a very dangerous proposal and needs to be considered carefully.
Remember that the vocation rehabilitation counselor is not your friend. She is being paid by the insurance carrier and her agenda is to try save the insurance company money by getting your benefits terminated—whether by finding you work, by settling your claim for little to nothing, or by terminating your benefits because you refused to cooperate with her.