What is Vocational Rehabilitation in Workers' Comp?
Workers’ compensation benefits are meant to keep you financially afloat after you get hurt on-the-job and cannot return to work until you heal. What happens if your injuries are so severe that you are never expected to be able to return to work, though? Does that mean your career is over? Thanks to vocational rehabilitation, it shouldn’t be.
Vocational rehabilitation is a workers’ compensation benefit designed to get you new or furthered training to start a new role within your employer’s company after an accident takes you out of your previous job title. You should be afforded all the necessary training and certifications to begin your new role without paying any training costs yourself. It is even possible to be reimbursed for travel costs if you need to drive far or fly for your retraining.
You can be placed into a new role temporarily or permanently, too. Many workers’ comp claimants use vocational rehabilitation to let them continue work for several months while they recover from their injuries. But severe injuries could require a permanent switch into a new job position, made possible by thorough vocational rehabilitation.
For example: You work in the warehouse of an office that sells and ships products. In the warehouse, you need to regularly lift heavy objects. After suffering a slip and fall on the premises, your back is seriously injured, and your doctor advises you never lift more than 20 pounds again. Vocational rehabilitation could allow you to assume a new role in the company, such as a salesperson who relies on a computer to make sales with no lifting required in the course of an average day.
Watch Out for Wage Differentials
An important thing to remember about vocational rehabilitation is that you should be retrained to work a new job position that pays as much or more than what you earned in your role before your injury. A negative wage differential is when you are given a new role at a lesser pay amount.
If you are paid less in your new role than your pre-injury occupation, then you might be able to use a wage differential claim to demand some of the difference. Wage differential amounts are usually calculated to match 66-2/3% of the difference between your new and past wages, though.
If you need help with vocational rehabilitation or wage differential settlements in Chicago, Illinois, there’s one law firm you need to know: Leonard Law Group. We are a dedicated team of attorneys for workers’ comp claimants in all occupations and walks of life. When you don’t want to take on your employer or an insurer alone, let us stand up for you.
Call (312) 487-2513 to arrange your no-cost consultation.