Are You Entitled to Vocational Rehabilitation After Your Workplace Accident?

It can be devastating to learn that you can’t return to your job after being out on workers compensation. The good news is that your Riverview workers compensation attorney can help you apply for vocational rehabilitation.

Here, we’ll explain what vocational retraining benefits entail, how the application works and what, if any, services you’ll be eligible for.

If Your Workers Comp Claim is Approved, You May Receive Three Types of Benefits

Once your workers comp claim is approved, you’ll become eligible for three types of benefits. Obviously, any medical care related to your workplace accident will be covered by insurance.

You will also receive replacement wages while you’re out on workers comp. Depending on how much time you miss from work, you may receive these benefits for up to 104 weeks.

Finally, for a small number of workers compensation claimants, there is something called vocational rehabilitation. 

How Can You Secure Your Vocational Rehabilitation?

You don’t automatically qualify for vocational rehabilitation when your claim is approved. These benefits are only offered to certain workers. For example, somebody who injured their wrist and was out of work for a month won’t qualify for these benefits.

To become eligible for vocational retraining services, you must submit a “Request for Screening” application to the Florida Division of Workers Compensation. You only have one year to do this.

If you’re wondering when the 1-year period starts, it’s the date you receive your final benefits check. Or it would be the last date on which you received medical care related to your workplace accident.

There Is a Very Specific Process You Must Complete to Request Vocational Retraining

It’s hard enough to apply for workers compensation benefits in Florida. Having to go through yet another process for vocational rehabilitation can be exhausting. That’s why we always suggest you have a Riverview workers comp lawyer handle this part for you.

You may still be receiving medical treatment for your workplace injuries when you decide to apply for these services. Just because you have a full year to apply for these services, that doesn’t mean you must wait.

The process itself can be arduous. You must complete the following to even be considered for vocational retraining:

  • You must attend a mandatory orientation meeting with an agent of the Vocational Rehabilitation offices.
  • At this meeting, you’ll have to fill out paperwork that will help the office determine your eligibility.
  • Within about 60 days, you’ll receive a final notice letting you know if you’ve been approved for these benefits.
  • You’ll work closely with the Vocational Rehabilitation team to create your IPE (Individualized Plan for Employment.)
  • After about 90 days, you’ll receive a written confirmation of your eligibility determination. If approved, you’ll be able to start taking advantage of the many services right away.

At some point, you may receive a notice stating that you don’t qualify for these benefits. If this happens, make sure you call your workers compensation attorney right away. They can reach out and find out why your request wasn’t approved. 

vocational rehabilitation

What Are the Criteria to Qualify for Vocational Retraining?

Not all workers are eligible for these benefits. To start, only workers with a permanent disability would qualify for these benefits. In addition, employees who can no longer work in the same industry following their workplace accident would also qualify.

The general rule used by the Florida Division of Workers Compensation is simple. If you are not able to earn at least 80% of your average weekly wages after reaching maximum medical improvement, you may qualify for special benefits. 

According to Florida Statute §440.491(6)(b), not only will you become eligible for vocational rehabilitation, but you may also be entitled to extended weekly benefits as well.

What Specific Services Are Available Under Vocational Rehabilitation?

If you’re approved for vocational rehabilitation, there will be a variety of services available to you. Some of these include:

  • Career counseling
  • Training and education
  • Job placement services
  • Job coaching
  • On-the-job training
  • Assistance with technology and devices

The exact services you’ll avail yourself of will depend on the facts of your case. The goal is to get you to the point where you’ll qualify for a new job in a new field entirely. 

You May Receive Additional Benefits While Attending School or Vocational Rehabilitation Services

If the Division of Workers Compensation determines that you truly need formal counseling and vocational retraining, they may extend your benefits period. 

As stated in above, certain people are offered the chance to go back to school or another training program to help them become more employable. 

If you are partially or totally disabled, you probably cannot work at your old job. You may not even be able to work in the same position or industry. If that’s the case, you’ll have to rely on your workers compensation benefits.

If you are approved, you’ll receive an additional 26 weeks of replacement wages. These benefits will be paid at the same rate they were when your compensation rate was determined at the outset. 

Call One of Our Riverview Workers Compensation Attorneys

Most people who go out on workers compensation are back to work in a matter of weeks, maybe months. Unfortunately, for some workers, their injuries are so serious that they can’t return to the same line of work. 

If you need help applying for vocational retraining benefits, a seasoned Riverview workers compensation attorney can help. We offer all new clients a free, initial consultation. Give us a call at 954-833-5226 today so we can schedule a time to discuss your case.

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