Depending on the nature of your injury and the type of job you do, it is possible that you may never regain your ability to return to your former occupation at full pay. Vocational rehabilitation is a workers’ compensation benefit that is designed to restore your ability to participate in the workforce, and it includes many forms of assistance.
What is ‘Voc Rehab’, Anyway?
Vocational rehabilitation is an ensemble of services that includes:
- Assessing your overall vocational qualifications such as your skills, education and aptitudes;
- Assessing limitations that might serve as obstacles to your full participation in the workplace (both physical, mental and skill-based limitations);
- Identifying certain skills, training or certification that might improve your future job prospects;
- Arranging appropriate coursework or training within the North Carolina community college or university system;
- Providing vocational counseling;
- Helping you prepare your resume; and
- Helping you identify job opportunities.
How Does Vocational Rehabilitation Work in the Context of a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If you are seeking workers’ compensation benefits, you can self-initiate a request for vocational rehabilitation on the condition that you cannot return to your old employer or that you have returned to work but are making less than 75 percent of your pre-accident wages. Any training you receive must be designed to improve your employability, and your vocational rehabilitation services can continue until the North Carolina Industrial Commission orders it to be terminated.
Vocational rehabilitation benefits work a lot like reimbursement for your medical expenses. No cash will be disbursed to you; instead, the insurance company and perhaps your employer will pay all expenses on your behalf.
In some cases you may be required to participate in vocational rehabilitation. If your workers’ compensation claim is denied, however, your employer cannot demand that you participate in vocational rehabilitation. You might be automatically exempted from any vocational rehabilitation requirement if you are found to be permanently and totally disabled, or if you have been awarded more than 500 weeks of disability benefits.
Consequences of Refusal to Cooperate
Although you can request vocational rehabilitation on your own (but your request can still be denied), if you are offered vocational rehabilitation then you are required to participate. If you refuse to participate without appropriate justification, your wage replacement benefits can be terminated.
The Sooner You Act, the Better Your Chances Will Be
The biggest problem that most claimants have with the North Carolina workers’ compensation system is understanding their rights and how to enforce them. Fear not — Raleigh workers’ compensation attorney John A. Hedrick has been practicing workers’ compensation law for decades now, and he has been certified as a Specialist in North Carolina workers’ compensation law since 2003.
Telephone us today at 919-626-3895, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our online contact form for a free claim evaluation.