Vocational rehabilitation is a process which impairments or health disabilities to 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, and techniques can include the following: goal setting and intervention planning, provision of health advice and promotion, in support of returning to work, and case management.
Who would hire a vocational counselor while I’m undergoing workers’ compensation?
An employer can hire a vocational counselor to show that 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 can directly 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 will help you to better understand your potential, to rely on your abilities, to set realistic vocational goals, to change them when necessary, to develop successful work habits, and to work again.
Restoration Services: Medical services and equipment such as physical and occupational therapy, wheelchairs, and automobile hand controls can be provided to enable you to pursue and achieve employment.
What if I’m still injured and I have to undergo vocational rehabilitation?
Unfortunately, some employers and insurance companies use vocational rehabilitation to reduce or stop wage loss benefits — instead of trying to help you find other work, and the insurance company may want you to simply accept any job so that wage loss benefits can be stopped.
While the true purpose of a vocational counselor is to help you find suitable employment after an at-work injury, vocational counselors are sometimes hired by insurance companies for the sole purpose of cutting your wage loss benefits. A poor vocational counselor can make your situation worse by ignoring work restrictions and by suggesting demeaning jobs. If it is found that you did not cooperate with a vocational counselor, you could lose entitlement to wage loss benefits.
You might also be sent to a vocational counselor for a “transferable skills analysis.” You may 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 what your rights and obligations are as they relate to this process.
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