Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Vocational Rehabilitation

November 28, 2016

In Pennsylvania, the workers’ compensation program includes the option of vocational rehabilitation if you are unable to return to doing the same type of work you did prior to your work-related injury. However, it is an option and not a requirement of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law that your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer cover vocational rehabilitation services or that you participate in them.

Your doctor may have given you medical restrictions on what you are no longer able to do. These restrictions will play a significant role in what kinds of work you can do. In some instances, if the disability will be permanent, you may have to consider training for a new career. Vocational rehabilitation provides wage loss benefits, counseling and job training to help you achieve the goal of training for a new career or a new type of job in your current industry or profession.

What happens if you are participating in the vocational rehabilitation program and then you receive notice that your employer intends to cut your wage loss benefits?

Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer has a goal that might be at cross purposes to your and that is to cut your wage loss benefits as soon as possible because every week that you are receiving benefits they are losing revenue. While it might be your intention to find meaningful, rewarding work that suits your skills and training, the insurance company wants you to find any work regardless of how it suits your skills, preferences or abilities just so they can release you from receiving wage loss benefits. As mentioned earlier, the insurer is not required by law to provide vocational rehabilitation services.

You may be asked to meet with a vocational counselor, who will conduct an earning power assessment interview to figure out which skills that you currently possess can be leveraged in a new position. Bear in mind that if the counselor is employed by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer, their goal is to get you hired at a job as soon as possible. You must work with them and be willing to try to find a job, as failure to do so could be seen as you not making a good faith effort to find gainful employment.

If you should receive a notice that a modified job that suits your medical restrictions has become available, you should apply for that job as soon as you hear about it. If the job pays less than the position you left, you may be able to receive wage loss benefits for a percentage of the difference.

Your best option in this kind of dispute is to schedule a confidential consultation with a trusted Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney who will review your case and advise you on how best to proceed. Workers’ compensation laws can be complicated, and negotiating with the insurance company can be frustrating. Having a strong advocate on your side will help ensure that you get the compensation you need to take care of yourself and your family.

The law firm of Larry Pitt & Associates helps injured workers throughout Pennsylvania get the compensation they deserve when they have been hurt on the job. If you would like to speak with an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer, please call 888.PITT.LAW, or fill out our contact form. We have several conveniently located offices to better serve our clients throughout Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.