If you’re injured at work and you’re unable to go back to your previous job, either for a long time or permanently, you might be referred to vocational rehabilitation. “Vocational rehabilitation” is a longer way of saying a program that helps you find a job or trains you on something new so you can find a job doing the new thing.
Vocational rehabilitation may come as part of doing light-duty work, which is when your doctor says you can work after you were hurt at work, but you cannot do your previous job. A person from a vocational rehabilitation service may meet with you to discuss the type of work you were doing and find out skills you have from your previous job that you can use at a different job. For example, you may have experience as a supervisor managing other employees or handling many different requests, or following a complex process with high stakes. All of these examples are transferrable skills or skills that you can use at lots of different jobs. The vocational rehabilitation services will work with you to find those jobs.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has a long list of guidelines for vocational rehabilitation services to protect you. The services are required to pay attention to what your previous job was, how much money you were paid, what you’re likely to be successful at, time and effort to get to work, as well as how much time, effort, and cost would have to happen if you’re trained in a new type of job.
The Commission also has a lot of guidelines to make sure that the vocational rehabilitation services don’t try to bother you as you’re recovering: they can chat with you while you’re recovering, but can’t ask you to start a training program for a new job until your doctor says you’re allowed to work. The services are supposed to meet you at a reasonable place and take your medical appointments into consideration when scheduling, are supposed to only call during the day and to give you at least two days’ notice of meetings and job interviews.
Your HammondTownsend attorney is allowed to be there when you first meet with a vocational rehabilitation service, and you are allowed to talk with your attorney about the process at any time if you have questions.
You can submit for reimbursement for mileage, photocopying, postage, and other expenses related to the vocational rehabilitation program.
You must cooperate with the vocational rehabilitation service and show you’re trying to get work, or your workers’ compensation benefits may be stopped.