Vocational rehabilitation is a process to help those with impairments or health disabilities overcome barriers to accessing, maintaining or returning to employment or other useful occupation. Vocational rehabilitation can require input from a range of health care professionals and other non-medical disciplines such as disability employment advisers.
Who would hire a vocational counselor?
An employer can hire a vocational counselor to show you are capable of performing some type of work even though you are injured. Your employer can use the opinions of the vocational counselor to suspend or reduce your workers’ compensation benefits.
What is considered vocational rehabilitation?
Some services are designed to help you overcome or lessen your disability, while others are meant to help you prepare for a career. The services include:
Diagnostic Services: Medical, psychological and audiological examinations and tests used to better understand your disability and your needs for specific types of services.
Vocational Evaluation: Aptitude, interest, general ability, academic exams, work tolerance and “hands-on” job experience used to understand your vocational potential.
Counseling: Vocational counseling to help you better understand your potential, rely on your abilities, set realistic vocational goals, change goals when necessary, develop successful work habits and work again.
Restoration Services: Medical services and equipment including physical and occupational therapy, wheelchairs and automobile hand controls can be provided to enable you to obtain employment.
What if I’m still injured and I have to undergo vocational rehabilitation?
Unfortunately, some employers and insurance companies hire vocational counselors for the sole purpose of cutting your wage-loss benefits. A poor vocational counselor can make your situation worse by ignoring work restrictions and suggesting demeaning jobs. If it is found that you did not cooperate with a vocational counselor, you could lose your benefits.
You may also be sent to a vocational counselor for a “transferable skills analysis” and find that your wage-loss benefits have been cut based upon a job that does not actually exist. This is not vocational rehabilitation, and you should call an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer immediately if this happens.
If you receive a request to meet with a vocational counselor, contact Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano immediately to determine your rights and obligations.
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