Vocational rehabilitation plans help injured workers return to work. While participating in vocational rehabilitation, workers always should keep in mind their plan’s goal. Whether the goal is starting a job in a new industry or moving to a different company, all rehabilitation plans come to an end at some point.
For many injured workers, their vocational rehabilitation ends when they go back to work. If you are in this situation, make sure to determine if you qualify for temporary partial disability benefits. Workers who earn a lower weekly wage than they earned before they were injured because of the injury can receive these TPD benefits to compensate for the difference in wage. Usually you can receive TPD benefits for 225 weeks or until 450 weeks have passed since the date of injury. If you have participated in retraining as part of your rehabilitation plan and worked at a lower wage during retraining, any TPD you received during retraining does not count toward the week limit.
Some injured workers’ rehabilitation plans end before they complete the plan and without a return to work. Plans may end for several reasons:
- The employee has “a new or continuing physical limitation that significantly interferes with the implementation of the plan;
- The employee is not participating effectively in the implementation of the plan;”
- There is “a need to change the vocational goal of the rehabilitation plan;
- The projected rehabilitation cost or duration, as stated in the rehabilitation plan, will be exceeded; or
- The employee feels ill-suited for the type of work for which rehabilitation is being provided.”
Minn. Rules § 5220.0510, subp. 1.
For injured workers facing any of the situations described above, it is extremely important to communicate your needs to your workers’ compensation lawyer or to the qualified rehabilitation consultant (QRC). If the QRC could change the plan to accommodate new restrictions you have or changes in your goals, making a change may be better for you than ending the plan. Your lawyer can work with the QRC and potentially arrange to modify your rehabilitation plan so that you can successfully complete it.
Sometimes, workers do not complete rehabilitation plans because the goals of their plans are unrealistic. QRCs selected by insurance companies may push workers to return to work before they have fully healed or before they have received sufficient vocational services. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you select a QRC who will help you return to work when you are truly ready, without sacrificing your health. Many successful plans with a good QRC end in a return to gainful employment.
Need help finding a qualified rehabilitation consultant? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.