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Vocational Rehabilitation

Definition - What does Vocational Rehabilitation mean?

Workers who are injured while performing their normal job duties may have difficulties returning to work due to residual functional, developmental, cognitive, emotional or psychological issues.

To help workers overcome these difficulties vocational rehabilitation may be offered by the Department of Labor and Industry's Vocational Rehabilitation unit (VRU) for workers whose claim has been denied by their employer or their insurance company or through a state’s Workers’ Rehabilitation Services (WRS) commission.

Regardless of who is providing vocational rehabilitation, the goal of the service is to help the eligible injured worker return to gainful employment in a position which is both physically and mentally appropriate and safe, eliminating the potential of future injuries.

Services provided through Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational rehabilitations services for injured workers varies but can include a variety of services:

  • Vocational evaluation and planning
  • Medical and psychological assessment
  • Career counseling
  • Career guidance and training
  • Additional education
  • Job-site evaluation and accommodation
  • Job placement and job coaching
  • On the job training
  • Supported employment
  • Psychological treatment

Can I refuse vocational rehabilitation services?

The goal of rehabilitation services is to help the worker return to full-time employment. If you refuse services which have been deemed necessary for your improvement the government will reduce the amount of disability you are entitled to receive by 50% for each week of refusal.

Rehabilitation services can vary by state. The companies and entities providing these services, however, want feedback. States also have appeal procedures for claimants who are dissatisfied with their rehabilitation services. In some cases, if you file an appeal you may be allowed to provide information about your case through a hearing or an informal administrative review.

Am I eligible for Rehabilitation Services?

Workers who have been injured at work performing their normal job functions and who are unable to return to past employment due to their permanent restrictions and/or limitations may be eligible for rehabilitation services.

Although you do not have to reach your maximum medical improvement to apply for rehabilitation services, you do have to wait until your physician has decided you may not be able to return to your regular work.

The goal of rehabilitation services is not to guarantee the injured worker a new job but rather to help the employee take the necessary steps to help them find suitable employment. Seeking proper rehabilitation through rehabilitation services often offers the worker the best chance for success.

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