In some cases, workers are injured seriously enough in an on-the-job accident that they cannot perform their former duties once they recover from their injuries. They may suffer catastrophic injuries, like traumatic brain injury, amputation, or another debilitating injury, that they never fully recover from and which causes limitations in the job duties and other activities that they can engage in. However, they may be able to return to the workforce if they received assistance and training. Vocational rehabilitation is one benefit under Georgia’s workers’ compensation that can help these employees get back on their feet after a serious injury.
What Is Vocational Rehabilitation?
Vocational rehabilitation is the process of building work skills that can be necessary when a worker suffers a serious injury or illness. This gives workers too injured to return to their former job the opportunity to receive training in a new type of employment. This retraining can be for a position with the injured worker’s current employer or a new one in a totally different profession. It can be a useful tool to help a worker return to being gainfully employed as he was before his accident.
If a worker suffers a catastrophic injury, he is entitled to a registered rehabilitation supplier, who is a nurse, experienced in handling these types of injuries. Catastrophic injuries are specifically defined under Georgia workers’ compensation laws to include paralysis, amputation, traumatic brain injury, certain burns, and more. Rehabilitation services can include employment training. In addition, the rehabilitation supplier can help coordinate the worker’s medical care, referrals to specialists, and scheduling of appointments.
Even if you did not suffer a catastrophic injury, you may be able to obtain rehabilitation services as part of your workers’ compensation benefits. Especially if your work is physically demanding, these services could be essential to helping you return to work in a new profession.
What Are Examples of Vocational Rehabilitation Services That You Could Need?
There are a wide variety of vocational rehabilitation services that could assist you if your injuries prevent you from performing your former job duties. Benefits vary by state and can include the following:
- Coaching for job interviews
- On-the-job training
- Resume writing and job application assistance
- Vocational evaluation to help you find the right career given your interests and limitations
- Career counseling
- Payment of tuition and other education-related expenses associated with your retraining
- Job search instruction and assistance
- Job placement services
- Ergonomic assessments
- Assistance with receiving reasonable accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
The First Step: a Vocational Assessment
If you need vocational rehabilitation, one of the first steps in the process may be to complete a vocational assessment. Often, a vocational counselor would be assigned to administer the assessment. The assessment can involve you taking written tests, providing work samples, and discussing your situation with the counselor.
It can be helpful to understand the goals of the assessment because it is an important part of the rehabilitation process. These goals include:
- Determining your physical and intellectual abilities
- Determining your skills and interests
- Identifying skills you possess that could be transferred to another job
- Creating realistic vocational goals
- Drafting a personal plan for you that includes services that you may benefit from
- Determining the costs and requirements of your plan
The plan could involve simple changes, such as a redesign of your workstation, or more complex services, like further job testing, help with obtaining certifications for another profession, or education in another field.
Let Chris Hudson & Associates, Help You Obtain the Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits You Need
If you need vocational rehabilitation services due to the severity of your injuries, you may have to fight to obtain these benefits.
Have You Been Injured At Work?
If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Augusta office directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule your free consultation.