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Vocational rehabilitation following a workplace injury

A workplace injury can be a devastating blow. In addition to the pain, suffering and financial struggles, you may be dealing with the frustrating idleness that comes with a long recovery. You may never have thought you would say the words, but you wish you could just get back to work.

However, if you suffered a severe or catastrophic injury, you may have concerns about whether you will ever be able to return to your job. You are grateful for the workers' compensation insurance coverage that helped keep your family on your feet, but what happens after you have reached the fullest recovery you can expect?

How can vocational rehabilitation help you?

Fortunately, New York workers are entitled to vocational rehabilitation services through their employers' workers' compensation insurer. The goal of any workers' comp program is to get workers back on the job as quickly as possible. However, if your injury prevents you from returning to your old job, you have the right to rehabilitation services. Your employer has a duty to offer this option to you within a certain amount of time after your injury. Some of the services available to you may include:

  • An assessment of any skills you have that may transfer to another job
  • A survey of local jobs that fit your skill set and salary goals
  • Assistance in your job search
  • Help creating a resume and applying for jobs
  • Assistance preparing for job interviews
  • Training for jobs or tuition for classes to increase your skill set
  • Guidance in obtaining reasonable accommodations on the job
  • Assessment of your ergonomic needs

Some employers may even pay for child care and transportation while you look for work, train or attend classes.

Protecting your rights as an injured worker

Accepting vocational rehabilitation does not mean your workers' compensation benefits end. Unless you refuse to participate in rehabilitation, your employer's insurer should continue with your benefits. Additionally, it is not acceptable for your workers' comp insurer to insist you take just any job or to place you in a job that does not adhere to your medical restrictions.

These are just a few ways in which your benefits may be at risk. It is important that you understand your rights related to vocational rehabilitation and the ways insurers and employers frequently violate those rights. You would be wise to consult an attorney for help in fighting any unfair treatment.

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