Will Workers’ Comp Cover Vocational Rehabilitation?

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Some work injuries are so severe that they leave individuals permanently disabled. Those disabilities may limit the kind of work they can perform in the future, which means a job change may be necessary. As such, Illinois workers’ compensation will cover vocational rehabilitation when it becomes necessary.

Here, we’ll discuss what vocational rehabilitation entails, employers’ responsibility with respect to VR, and how you can secure coverage for your rehabilitation after a work accident.

What Is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational rehabilitation is training and other services designed to help disabled individuals return to the workforce. Some of the services provided through vocational rehabilitation include:

  • Vocational evaluation/assessment
  • Professional training and classes
  • On-the-job training
  • Career counseling
  • Employment searches, referrals, and placement
  • Transportation, personal assistance, and interpreter services
  • Consultation with employers concerning accommodations and job modification
  • Financial assistance (while receiving services)

If the need for these services results from a work-related injury, then they can be covered by workers’ compensation.

Employers’ Responsibility and Vocational Rehabilitation

Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, employers have the responsibility to pay for vocational rehabilitation when a work accident renders you unable to continue performing your prior job duties. This is in addition to medical expenses, lost time from work, and disability benefits.

However, if an injury didn’t result from a work-related accident, then they cannot be covered under workers’ compensation since workers’ comp wouldn’t apply. In addition, if covering benefits wouldn’t provide any benefit to you—such as if your disability is too severe to allow any kind of work—then your employer is not obligated to cover them.

If you are disabled in a work accident, the exact shape your vocational rehabilitation takes depends a great deal on the nature of your injury/accident, the type of work you were performing, the employment opportunities available to you, and whether additional training or preparation will help you improve your financial situation. After you’ve been assessed and have an approved plan, your employer will be required to cover it through their workers’ compensation insurance.

Vocational Rehabilitation Coverage for Work Injuries

Qualification for vocational rehabilitation is not automatic. To qualify for VR—and coverage under workers’ compensation—you need to have a physical or mental condition that limits your ability to work or secure employment. Determining this requires a medical assessment from your doctor. As such, seeing your doctor for treatment is vital to the process.

In addition, to get VR covered, it’s expected that you make an effort to find suitable work. Failing to do so could limit the credibility of your claim. On the other hand, if you make every effort possible to secure suitable employment only to find that you need extra training, then you’ll be able to make a good case for vocational rehabilitation coverage through workers’ compensation.

Finally, it’s often best to have an attorney when filing a workers’ compensation claim, particularly if it involves a permanent disability. These claims can get expensive for employers, so they often try to minimize the amount they pay out by denying or reducing benefits. As such, a workers’ compensation lawyer—such as us at Hart David Carson LLP—can help improve your odds of getting VR benefits covered.

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