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The Role of Vocational Rehabilitation in Ohio Workers’ Compensation Cases

After a workplace accident, an injured worker may have restrictions that prevent them from returning to the job they were performing prior to the injury. That’s why the Ohio workers’ compensation system offers vocational rehabilitation and living maintenance programs to assist injured workers in returning to the workplace. If you have suffered injury as a result of a workplace incident, Cincinnati workers’ compensation lawyer Mark L. Newman can help ensure you receive the benefits you deserve. Call (513) 533-2009 to schedule a consultation with our team today.

Vocational Rehabilitation Program in Ohio

What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational rehabilitation is a program designed to help injured workers with limitations due to their impairments find and maintain employment. After someone has suffered a work-related injury, enrolling in a vocational rehab program is an excellent way to rehabilitate and return to the workforce. 

An injured worker participating in vocational rehab is entitled to receive living maintenance compensation. Living maintenance is a benefit that provides injured workers with bi-weekly compensation while they participate in a vocational rehabilitation program. An injured worker is entitled to Living maintenance wage loss compensation if they find a  new job through participation in a vocational rehab program and earn less money than they were earning before the injury.

What is the Goal of Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational rehabilitation, also referred to as a “return-to-work program,” was created with the intention to return the injured worker to their original employer after they have recovered from their work-related injury. If returning to their original work duties is not possible, it focuses on helping the worker identify skills that can help them obtain work with a new employer. Ultimately, the goal is to help injured workers return to the same level of work and pay they had before they suffered a workplace injury.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation provides a list of services that may be provided for workers’ seeking vocational rehabilitation. These services include:

  • Vocational rehabilitation case management
  • Assessments
  • Career counseling
  • Ergonomic study
  • Employer incentive contracts
  • Gradual return to work
  • Job analysis or job modification
  • On-the-job training
  • Physical restoration services
    • Occupational rehabilitation – comprehensive (work hardening)
    • Work conditioning
    • Active physical or occupational therapy
  • Transitional work and on-site therapy
  • Re-employment services
  • Training
  • Other services as needed to support return to work

Below, we’ll go into further detail on some of these services. 

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

A vocational rehabilitation program may include physical therapy, education, job-seeking skills training, and on-the-job training. Other services may include job modification, transitional work, or even placement at a new job if the injured worker is unable to return to the job or position they were performing in before their accident. Vocational rehab usually only begins after an injured worker has reached maximum medical improvement from their injuries.

Vocational Rehabilitation Case Management

Before an injured worker begins a vocational rehabilitation program, a vocational rehabilitation case manager will contact your doctor to determine whether you are medically capable of participating in vocational If the injured worker is medically eligible, the case manager may evaluate the worker based on their education, medical history, and employment history. They may also complete a work/job analysis to determine if there are any boundaries to employment that the worker may face. Finally, case managers can then help workers set goals and develop a plan of care for their rehabilitation program based on their unique set of circumstances.

Occupational or Physical Therapy 

Ohio workers participating in vocational rehab may receive occupational rehabilitation (or occupational therapy) as well as physical therapy. Physical therapy strives to help injured individuals regain functionality following an injury, accident, or illness so that they can complete necessary tasks, such as walking or lifting objects. Occupational therapy specifically helps workers regain functionality so that they can complete job-related tasks.

Work Conditioning and Hardening

Injured workers participating in vocational rehabilitation may require work conditioning following an accident. The vocational goal of work conditioning is to help an injured worker regain their strength and stamina so that they can complete work tasks. This may include training to lift or carry heavy objects or even training to stand for long periods of time.

Transitional Work

The primary goal of vocational rehab is to help the injured worker return to the job or position they had before they were injured. However, if they are unable to do this job  they may be eligible for transitional work. Transitional work allows an injured worker to maintain employment while they complete their rehabilitation program. For example, if a delivery person is unable to perform their job tasks following a workplace accident, their employer can supply them with a desk job temporarily.

Job Training

Vocational rehabilitation can help injured workers complete various types of job training, including on-site job training and job-seeking skills training. If they are facing continuing job restrictions, workers may also need job modification, in which case they’ll need to be trained on their new responsibilities.

On-the-Job Training

Injured workers participating in vocational rehab may require job-retention services such as job training. On-the-job training also occurs on-site at their place of work, which can help employees regain the specific skills needed for a particular job. This kind of training can be used to help a worker do their original job, or help them work in a new position with the same employer.

Job-Seeking Skills Training

One of the re-employment services that may be a part of a vocational rehabilitation plan is job-seeking skills training. This helps educate individuals on how to conduct their own job search, including how to find good job opportunities, build resumes, and write cover letters. Job-seeking skills training aims to help increase the employee’s employability so that they can job hunt successfully.

Job Placement

A vocational rehab program may also help a worker search for a job. Vocational rehabilitation job placement services can include directing a worker’s job search, supplying them with job leads and connections, and monitoring their search, to help them find a new job with a different employer.

How To Request a Referral To Vocational Rehab

Anyone can refer an injured worker to vocational rehabilitation. To request a referral for vocational rehabilitation services in Ohio, you can ask your doctor to submit a C9 or contact your Managed Care Organization (MCO) or Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) claims specialist. The BWC determines whether an injured worker is eligible for voc rehab. The MCO will make a recommendation to the BWC regarding the injured worker’s feasibility to participate in vocational rehabilitation. 

If an injured worker qualifies, the Bureau of Workers Compensation will work with the MCO to and the vocational rehabilitation case manager to develop a rehabilitation plan.

Do You Qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation Services?

Injured workers who have sustained a work-related injury that has caused a significant impediment to employment may qualify for vocational rehabilitation. An injured worker must also meet one of these requirements:

  1. Is receiving either temporary total, non-working wage loss, or permanent total compensation;
  2. Has received a scheduled loss award;
  3. Currently is not receiving compensation but has job restrictions;
  4. Is receiving job retention services; or
  5. Has sustained a catastrophic injury

How an Ohio Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help

Each vocational rehabilitation case is different, which is why it’s important to find an experienced vocational rehabilitation lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the Ohio workers’ compensation system. If you have sustained a workplace injury that has caused you significant impairment, call Mark L. Newman at (513) 496-1417 and receive a free consultation regarding your case.  

Attorney Mark L. Newman Can Answer Your Questions

Contact attorney Mark L. Newman today. Email us or call (513) 533-2009 to schedule your free initial consultation.

Injury or disability?

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Mark L. Newman Attorney at Law

3074 Madison Road Suite 2N
Cincinnati, OH 45209
Phone: (513) 533-2009
Fax: (513) 991-6439


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