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How the vocational rehabilitation process works

On Behalf of | May 12, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

Worker’s compensation can cover several benefits and not just medical ones. It can cover the travel needed for medical treatment, wage benefits, and any rehabilitation you may need.

What are vocational rehabilitation and retraining benefits?

If a healthcare professional treating you decides that your work-related injury resulted in “permanent restrictions” that affect your ability to work, you may be qualified for vocational rehabilitation. Rehabilitation aims to give you the resources and services you need to restore you as close as possible to your pre-injury condition.

How to sign up for vocational rehabilitation

Before you can access rehab benefits, you need to have your eligibility assessed. Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has specially trained counselors at the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to assess rehab applicants. Only after you qualify can a counselor develop an individualized plan for employment (IPE) for you. IPEs may include help landing a new job, on-the-job training that considers your permanent restrictions, retraining, technical degree, college degree, etc.

But before the plan can be implemented, your employer must review your medical report to check your permanent restrictions.

Your employer’s response

After your employer reviews your medical report, they could respond in three ways:

  • Your employer sends you a written offer of suitable employment.
  • Your employer tells you that it can’t find suitable employment considering your health condition.
  • A medical report that disputes your doctor’s report.

Your employer might also send documentation proving that the difference in work restrictions would materially affect their ability to offer employment.

Settling disputes

At this stage of the claims process, any party may request a hearing with the state Worker’s Compensation Division about your restrictions. If your employer is disputing claims of your restrictions, it could contact the agency to refuse any planned IPEs. Your employer might also insist that you can continue your job despite your conditions.

You might want an attorney to represent you, especially once the hearings begin. An attorney may be able to help communicate to the agency and your employer the extent of your permanent restrictions and why you’ll need rehabilitation.