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Can Vocational Rehabilitation Place Your Workers' Comp At Risk?

One often overlooked benefit of workers' compensation is vocational rehabilitation. If you are unable to return to your previous position, your employer's insurance company is charged with providing you with a counselor and rehabilitation so that you can get the training needed to become employed again. Unfortunately, issues with vocational rehabilitation could lead to a loss of benefits altogether. To avoid this, here is what you need to know. 

What Does Vocational Rehabilitation Cover?

Vocational rehabilitation covers a wide range of services. It is not limited to only training for a new position. You can also receive mental and physical rehabilitation, job counseling, and referrals for a prospective employer. 

Depending on the circumstances, you might even qualify for assistance with starting a business or paying bills until you are finished job training. 

Which services you ultimately end up being approved for depends largely on the results of the assessment with the vocational rehabilitation counselor. Unfortunately, the counselor's assessment could also result in loss of benefits for you. 

How Does the Assessment Impact You?

The vocational rehabilitation counselor is contracted by your employer's insurance company. Unfortunately, this might not necessarily translate to an unbiased assessment of your capabilities. 

If the counselor insists that you are able to return to your previous position or that you are capable of taking on a recommended position and you refuse, the insurance company could make the argument that you are only interested in receiving benefits and not necessarily working. As such, your benefits could be decreased or stopped. 

You can appeal the decision, but it can take time and interfere with your ability to move on from your workplace injury.

How Can You Prepare for the Assessment?

Preparation for the assessment is important if you want to maintain your benefits and receive the assistance through vocational rehabilitation that you deserve. For instance, prior to the assessment, contact the counselor and ask for a copy of the rules that vocational rehabilitation counselors must follow. If the counselor acts in a manner that is considered unprofessional or violates a rule during the assessment, you need to contact your employer's insurance company immediately.

You also need to avoid exaggerating your injuries to appear less or more significant. Remember, the counselor is contracted by the insurance company, which also has access to your medical records. If there are any discrepancies in what you tell the counselor and the treating physician, your benefits could be at risk.

To protect yourself and your benefits, consider taking your workers' comp attorney with you to the first meeting with the counselor. He or she can ensure that the counselor is following the rules closely and keep a record of what transpires during the meeting.

For more information and advice, talk with a workers' comp attorney or visit websites like