A frequent concern for Louisiana workers who have suffered an injury, condition or illness due to their work is whether they will receive workers’ compensation or not. However, another issue that often arises is the possibility that they will not recover sufficiently to get back to their previous job. Workers are sometimes able to receive vocational rehabilitation. Employees who cannot earn wages that are equal to that which they earned before they received workers’ compensation can receive vocational rehabilitation. This is so they can get back to work with a limited amount of retraining.
When this occurs, the employer must find a counselor to conduct an evaluation and assist in either vocational retraining or job placement. There are several options when getting worker back on the job as quickly as possible. First, the employer can return the worker to the same position as before. Second, the worker can be returned to a modified position. Third, the employee can be placed in a related job that suits his or her skills and education. If possible, the local job pool must be taken into consideration.
If the above alternatives are not available, the counselor can seek to garner on-the-job-training for the worker along with retraining or self-employment. If retraining is needed, the employee is entitled to a reasonable amount, but it cannot go beyond 26 weeks. The request must be made and started within two years from the time the temporary total disability ended based on the treating doctor’s recommendation. There can be an extension for as long as 26 weeks if the retraining is deemed as necessary by the judge in the case. The employer or the insurer will pay any reasonable cost that accompanies the retraining program, travel and any other factor.
The employee can file a dispute if the employer refuses to provide these services. There can be an expedited hearing in this type of case. The employee must cooperate with the counselor’s recommendations. If the employee refuses, it will lower the workers’ compensation benefits per week including supplemental earnings by 50 percent for every week during the time of refusal. While workers’ compensation benefits are in place to protect workers, there are certain matters that can be confusing. This includes rehabilitation and not being able to return to the old job due to the medical issues. Speaking to a lawyer experienced in workers’ compensation can help to deal with a case.
Source: laworks.net, “What If I Cannot Return To My Old Job?,” accessed on March 24, 2017