Vocational Training And Rehabilitation

Vocational Training And Rehabilitation

Vocational rehabilitation helps workers who have been injured on the job bridge the gap between their  injury and returning to meaningful employment. This program, set within the framework of the state’s workers’ compensation laws, is not just about recovery; it’s about empowerment, providing injured workers the tools and support necessary to re-enter the workforce while managing their injuries. The essence of vocational rehabilitation lies in its focus on the future—helping individuals overcome or adapt to their injuries and find new purposes in their professional careers.


Understanding Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational rehabilitation is a structured program designed to help injured workers who are unable to return to their previous employment as a result of their injuries. Administered by the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), specifically through the Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation (OEVR), Vocational Rehabilitation aims to either restore the injured worker to their pre-injury employment status or assist them in finding new employment that aligns with their current physical capabilities​​. Rehabilitation services are tailored to individual needs, and can include job training, resume building, job search assistance, and sometimes, education.

Eligibility for Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services hinges on several factors, primarily the severity of the injury and its impact on the worker’s ability to perform their previous job. To be considered a candidate for vocational rehabilitation services, one must have accepted a workers’ compensation claim, thus indicating that their injury or illness is work-related and significant enough to prevent a return to their former employment without assistance. The OEVR plays an important role in this process, evaluating applications for vocational rehabilitation and determining whether an injured worker qualifies for these services based on medical, employment, and educational records​​​​.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services Offered

There is a wide range of services offered under vocational rehabilitation that aim to address the countless obstacles an injured worker may face when attempting to re-enter the workforce, including direct job placement services, counseling and guidance, vocational and on-the-job training, and education. The overarching goal of these services is to enable the injured worker to regain employment that is as close as possible to their pre-injury position and wage, considering their current physical and mental capabilities. The OEVR oversees the implementation of these services, working with vocational rehabilitation providers to tailor a plan that meets the specific needs of each individual​

Handling Disagreements and Mandatory Participation

Sometimes, a worker and the insurance company might not see eye to eye on the need for vocational rehabilitation services. When such disagreements arise, the injured worker has the right to apply to the OEVR for a determination of the necessity of these services. The application must be accompanied by current medical records and, if applicable, a lump sum payment agreement. The OEVR evaluates the injured worker’s eligibility based on their medical condition, employment history, and educational background. If deemed eligible, the insurer is then required to provide and cover the costs of the vocational rehabilitation services​​.

Mandatory participation is a crucial aspect of the vocational rehabilitation process. If the OEVR determines that you are eligible for services but you choose not to participate, your weekly compensation benefits may be reduced by up to 15%. It underscores the system’s emphasis on rehabilitation and the expectation that injured workers will engage in efforts to return to work. This mandatory aspect aims to encourage active participation in the rehabilitation process, ensuring that injured workers take meaningful steps toward recovery and employment.

Claim Settlement and Vocational Rehabilitation

Understanding how vocational rehabilitation interacts with claim settlements is important for injured workers. If you are eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, this eligibility can extend up to two years from the date of a lump-sum settlement, provided the injury occurred after 1986. This period allows workers to seek vocational rehabilitation services even after settling their claims, offering a pathway to reemployment and financial independence​​.

However, it’s crucial to note that vocational rehabilitation services cannot be included in a lump-sum settlement without express written consent from the OEVR. This provision ensures that injured workers do not waive their right to vocational rehabilitation services as part of a settlement agreement. Additionally, if a lump sum settlement is reached without completing a vocational rehabilitation program for which the worker was eligible, the settlement must receive the OEVR’s approval​​.

Contact our Massachusetts Workers Compensation Attorney

Handling the complexities of vocational rehabilitation in the wake of a work-related injury requires more than just understanding the system; it demands expert legal guidance to ensure your rights are protected and your path to recovery is clear.

At Markey Law Partners, we specialize in Massachusetts workers’ compensation law, offering personalized support to injured workers at every step of their rehabilitation journey. From determining your eligibility to maximizing your vocational rehabilitation benefits and skillfully negotiating claim settlements, our team is dedicated to securing the best possible outcome for you. Let us help you unlock new employment opportunities and achieve the financial stability and professional satisfaction you deserve. Contact Markey Law Partners today for a partner in your recovery and return to work.

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