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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

by Jared Staver in Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation

Under Illinois’ workers’ compensation law, employers must pay for vocational rehabilitation when it is necessary. As an Illinois worker, you are entitled to rehabilitation services when you sustain an injury that causes lost earning capacity and when there is evidence that rehabilitation will increase your earning potential. For instance, if you can no longer perform your previous job duties, which included heavy lifting, yet you are able to perform a less strenuous job, then you may need training to be able to obtain another position.

If you were hurt at work and now you cannot go back to your job, you may be eligible for your employer to pay for additional training or education so you can return to the workforce in a new position. To learn more, contact a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer of Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. as soon as possible. Call today at (312) 236-2900.

The Basics of Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational rehabilitation is for individuals who have physical or mental disabilities due to a medical condition, accident, or workplace incident. The purpose of vocational rehabilitation is to determine your physical and mental capabilities as well as your interests to best provide education and training for you to be able to work. Depending on your needs and goals, a vocational rehabilitation program may provide job-specific training, apprenticeships, unpaid work experiences, job hunting and interview skills, and help to create a resume. Some of this assistance may be through college, business, technical, and vocational schools.

Your Employer Must Pay for Rehabilitation When Necessary

Your employer must inform you of your right to rehabilitation services and offer you guidance on where vocational rehabilitation services can be found, such as through the state of Illinois or a private party. You do not technically have the burden of requesting vocational rehabilitation after being hurt at work. Though in actuality, you and your workers’ compensation attorney may need to bring this up and fight for your right to services.

Eligibility for a Vocational Rehabilitation Award

Under Illinois law, the employer must pay for the treatment, instruction, and training for the physical, mental, and vocational rehabilitation of an injured employee. However, first it must be determined whether you are eligible for this benefit. When determining if an award for vocational rehabilitation through workers’ compensation coverage is appropriate, an employer can look at:

  • Whether the employee has suffered a long-term injury or disability
  • Whether the employee’s injury has lowered their earning capacity
  • The worker’s current education and skills and whether this would enable them to obtain a job without further training
  • The potential costs and benefits of the program
  • The employee’s work-life expectancy
  • The employee’s job security
  • The employee’s motivation and ability to go through rehabilitation services
  • Evidence that rehabilitation will increase the employee’s earning potential
  • The likelihood of the worker obtaining a job after rehabilitation
  • Any previously unsuccessful attempts at rehabilitation by the employee

Your employer needs to make this determination and prepare a vocational rehabilitation plan when it is clear you cannot return to your regular work duties or when your period of total incapacity goes beyond 120 continuous days, whichever occurs first. This means it is in the employer’s best interest to determine whether you are eligible for vocational rehabilitation as soon as possible.

Obtaining Vocational Rehabilitation

Your employer has the right to nominate a vocational rehabilitation consultation, and while you have the right to choose your rehabilitation counselor, most employers end up going with the program provided by work. Keep in mind that a good rehabilitation counselor will:

  • Conduct a thorough evaluation
  • Counsel you on your choices
  • Help you obtain job training
  • Help you obtain necessary education, such as going back to school
  • Help you look for and apply to new positions
  • Help you prepare for interviews
  • Follow up with you after gaining employment to ensure the position fits your needs and offers necessary accommodations

If you are not receiving the help you need from your counselor, immediately contact your workers’ compensation attorney.

Work With a Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you need vocational rehabilitation after being hurt at work, you will benefit from partnering with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. An attorney understands how to gather the documentation necessary to prove you have a long-term injury or disability, have a reduced earning potential, and would benefit from services. Also, if you are initially denied this workers’ compensation benefit, an attorney will understand how best to appeal the decision.

For more information, contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 to schedule a free consultation.