Vocational rehabilitation (VR) is a type of workers’ compensation benefit for employees who suffer work-related injuries and can no longer perform their job duties. Employees suffering a work-related injury may qualify for vocational rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation may offer a variety of benefits including:
- Employment counseling;
- Physical and Mental Rehabilitation;
- Occupation Related Job Training;
- Job Placement Services;
- Workplace Accommodations for Disabilities;
- An Interpreter (if deaf);
- Reader Services (if blind);
- Personal Assistance Services;
- Rehabilitation Technology services and devices; and
- Training and technical assistance to employers regarding disability employment issues.
Am I Eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation?
An injured worker must meet certain requirements to qualify for vocational rehabilitation:
- Injured worker has a physical or mental condition that causes a “substantial impediment” to their ability to work; and
- The injured worker must be able to benefit from vocational rehabilitation services (i.e. with the assistance of rehabilitation services, the worker has the physical and emotional capability of returning to work).
Workers that receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are automatically eligible for vocational rehabilitation unless the injury is so severe that they would not benefit rehabilitation services. To apply for vocational rehabilitation services, qualifying workers should contact their state’s local Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.
What If My Employer Offers Me Another Position?
If you are unable to return to your former job, your employer might decide to offer you another position within the company. If your employer offers you a new position that pays comparable wages and benefits, you must accept the job to avoid forfeiting your future right to vocational rehabilitation benefits.
Should I Hire an Employment Attorney?
Vocational rehabilitation is expensive for your employer's insurance company and they may resist designing a program for you. If you are eligible for vocational rehabilitation and your employer's insurance company refuses to offer it, you should contact an employment lawyer. An employment lawyer will be able determine if you qualify for vocational rehabilitation services and advocate for your rights should your employer refuse to make required accommodations for your disability. In the event of a dispute with your employer, an experienced employment lawyer can file a claim with the appropriate government agency, gather physical evidence, depose witnesses, and represent you in administrative hearings or court.