When a Massachusetts worker is injured on the job and receives workers' compensation, it does not necessarily mean their injuries will prevent them from ever working again. There could, however, be a problem getting back into condition to do the same job as before. This is where vocational rehabilitation (VR) comes in. With VR, the goal is to get the person back to work. Understanding how VR can affect workers' compensation benefits is key after the injury or condition prevents the person from working the old job.
There are four options related to VR. If the worker cannot get back to the previous job, there will be an attempt to modify it so the person can return to work for the same employer. If that fails, there will be an attempt to find a different job with the same employer. Next, there will be an attempt to find a different job with a different employer. Finally, there can be an attempt at retraining the worker. The Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation (OEVR) will conduct a review of the worker's medical history, education and employment history. For those deemed eligible, the OEVR will ask that the insurance company set up VR.
A worker is not required to take part in VR, but if the worker does not attend the mandatory meeting as scheduled, the workers' compensation benefit might be subject to suspension until the worker does attend. For those who are deemed eligible for VR and they do not take part, the compensation the worker receives could be reduced by 15 percent. For workers who were injured after 1986, there can be a request for VR within two years of an approval of a lump sum settlement. There is no guarantee of a job after VR. Workers' compensation benefits are required to pay for VR once the worker is found eligible by OEVR. By law, the cost of VR cannot be part of the lump sum settlement.
A worker who suffered a workplace injury or became ill because of the work he or she did and is getting workers' compensation might need to take part in VR. This is an issue that might be confusing to many workers who are getting workers' compensation benefits. A legal professional can help an injured worker with all areas of workers' compensation including any question or issue with VR.
Source: Mass.gov, "Vocational rehabilitation information for injured workers," accessed on Feb. 5, 2018