Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits Information

When you have a work-related injury, sometimes all you need is a little help to get back on our feet. That is one of the reasons why rehabilitation services are offered to injured workers through Minnesota workers’ compensation. If you are injured at work, you may be eligible for rehabilitation services if you are in need of medical management and/or help returning to work because of your injury.

The general purpose of rehabilitation is to help injured workers to return to their former employment or to modified employment that will bring them as close as possible to their pre-injury economic status.

Vocational rehabilitation benefits are designed to assist the injured worker returning to former employment or to a job related to that employment. In the alternative, rehabilitation services assist the injured employee to return to a job in another work area, which produces an economic status as close as possible to that enjoyed but for the disability. This assistance may include direct job placement, on-the-job training or formal retraining. Rehabilitation services can include the use of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (“QRC”) to help with medical management, return to work, and job placement.

What is a QRC And How Do I Get One?

One of the benefits that is offered to injured workers in Minnesota is the assistance of a QRC or a qualified rehabilitation consultant. The job of a QRC is to help the injured worker in getting them back to work with the date of injury employer, either in their original job or in a new position within the employer. If the employee cannot go back to work with the same employer, and they are allowed to return to work, job placement services may be initiated to help the worker look for work.

Choosing a QRC

  • An injured worker has the right to choose their own QRC. Often times, if an employee does not choose one- whether they know they can or not – the workers’ compensation insurance company may assign one. Don’t allow the insurance company to choose a “bad” QRC for you. Contact our office to today and we can help you choose the right QRC for you. In most cases, it is not until much later on in the case do you realize that the QRC is not looking out for your best interests. Unfortunately, only in extreme circumstances can the QRC be changed. This typically requires an Order from the court. Consequently, it is important to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who can help you choose the right QRC from the beginning.
  • Even if the QRC has been put on the file, the injured worker has 60 days to select a new QRC if they so desire. Unfortunately, the telltales of a bad QRC don’t typically come to light until well beyond the 60-day period. Therefore, it is important to talk to a knowledgeable attorney as to whether a certain QRC is right for you.

Things to Remember

  • If rehabilitation services are thought to be helpful, you are to request an initial consultation with a QRC.
  • An initial rehabilitation consultation is to be provided to you upon request. Once a consultation is requested, the employer must provide a QRC unless a waiver is filed by the employer.
  • You have a right to choose a QRC at the beginning of rehabilitation services or within 60 days following the filing of the rehabilitation plan.

Vocational Retraining

After a work injury, you may be entitled to vocational retraining into another job or position.  This includes a formal course of study which is designed to return you to suitable gainful employment. This could be a two or three year program. Vocational retraining is to be given equal consideration with other rehabilitation services, and proposed for approval if other considered services are not likely to lead to suitable gainful employment such as job placement services.

How do I Request Retraining?

You can make a request for vocational retraining by discussing the matter with your QRC or Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant. The QRC would then work with you in preparing a formal retraining plan to be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. It must be approved by the State of Minnesota in order for you to be allowed to be retrained. It may also be to your benefit to discuss the matter with an experienced attorney who has been successful in getting retraining plans approved. Often times the injured worker has only one opportunity to get retrained. Failure to take the appropriate steps could potentially cause a retraining plan not to be approved. Discussing the matter with one of our attorneys is free with no obligation to retain us.

What Will Be Included in a Retraining Plan?

  • the retraining goal;
  • information about the formal course of study required by the retraining plan;
  • starting and completion dates;
  • preinjury job title and economic status, including, but not limited to preinjury wage;
  • a narrative rationale describing the reasons why retraining is proposed, including a summary comparative analysis of other rehabilitation alternatives and information documenting the likelihood that the proposed retraining plan will result in the employee’s return to suitable gainful employment;
  • dated signatures of the employee, insurer, and assigned qualified rehabilitation consultant signifying an agreement to the retraining plan; and
  • an attached copy of the published course syllabus, physical requirements of the work for which the retraining will prepare the employee, medical documentation that the proposed training and field of work is within the employee’s physical restrictions, reports of all vocational testing or evaluation, and a recent labor market survey of the field for which the training is proposed.

Will The Retraining Plan Cover My Books, Tuition, Mileage, and Wages?

Yes, if the retraining plan is approved the insurer will cover your books, tuition, mileage, and wages while enrolled in the program. Wages are even covered regardless of whether you have used up all or even a portion of your temporary partial or temporary total disability benefits available to you. The insurer may also be responsible for other items such as laptops or computers if required as part of the course of study. Daycare may also be a covered expense.

When Must a Claim for Retraining Be Made?

It is important to discuss with an attorney your rights to retraining to and whether you are a retraining candidate. Failure to make a request for retraining before the below deadlines could be a bar to retraining benefits.

  • If your date of injury is from Oct. 1, 1995, through Sept. 30, 2000, you must file your request for retraining benefits before 104 weeks of wage-loss benefits have been paid to you.
  • If your date of injury is from Oct. 1, 2000, through Sept. 30, 2008, you must file your request for retraining benefits before 156 weeks of wage-loss benefits have been paid to you.
  • If you were injured on or after Oct. 1, 2008, you must file your request for retraining before 208 weeks of wage-loss benefits have been paid to you.

What If The Workers Compensation Insurer is Denying My Request For Retraining?

Contact our office and speak with a lawyer right away. Our office has been extremely successful in getting retraining plans approved. Our office can assist in filing a rehabilitation request and making sure the appropriate measures are taken to get you retraining.

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