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Vocational Rehabilitation for Injured Workers

Posted by Foster Law on May 27, 2015

Understanding what worker retraining benefits are in Washington State.

For many who have been seriously injured on the job and are disabled, it can be a frightening, uncertain road. Not knowing what your future holds or how you will survive from day to day can be overwhelming, to say the least.

Questions arise, such as:

  • How am I going to pay my bills?
  • Will I lose my house?
  • How can I financially take care of my family?
  • What about retirement?
  • Will I be able to live?
  • What about my children, clothes, medical and dental benefits, college education?

In Washington State, if you suffer a debilitating work injury that leaves you out of a job, you may qualify for "vocational rehabilitation”. Injured workers who cannot return to their former occupation are entitled to this type of rehabilitation at the expense of their employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier.

Some of the services to which an injured worker may be entitled include:

  • Retraining for a new job
  • Limited tuition assistance
  • Financial aid for training
  • Training in English as a second language
  • Basic literacy education
  • Assistance with books, fees, supplies
  • Childcare assistance
  • Assistance with career and educational planning
  • Finding a new job
  • Job search workshops
  • Evaluation of skills and work history
  • Job skills assessment
  • Free Internet access for job search
  • Free phones, FAX machines, personal computers, photocopiers to help with your job search
  • Transportation assistance
  • Relocation assistance if you obtain new employment
  • Tools, uniforms, supplies required on your new job

The vocational rehabilitation benefits that an injured employee will be eligible for are determined not only by the employee's specific situation, but also must conform with state statutory and regulatory limitations.

What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational rehabilitation is a program that provides customized vocational rehabilitation and supportive services to assist qualified individuals with disabilities to obtain jobs that are consistent with their skills and abilities.

Who is Eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation?

To be eligible to receive vocational rehabilitation services from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), the following will be taken into account:

  • The injured worker's education and past work experiences
  • Any physical and/or mental restrictions which are a direct result of the industrial injury, or which existed prior to the industrial injury, or which exist as a result of unrelated past industrial injury conditions
  • Those acquired or demonstrated work-related skills which remain viable in light of the injured worker's physical and/or mental limitations (transferable skills)
  • Labor market data reflecting the existence of occupational options consistent with the injured worker's transferable skills which are within the worker's labor market

Who May Not Be Eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation?

The following circumstances may make an injured worker unemployable and not able to benefit from vocational rehabilitation services:

  • Direct effects of the industrial injury
  • Condition(s) pre-existing the industrial injury
  • Unrelated, post-industrial injury circumstances
  • Injured worker's action(s) that preclude his/her ability to benefit such as non-cooperation with services

Whether you are suffering from a work-related injury or an occupational disease, you must have a physical injury to be able to file a claim for benefits under Washington law. According to Washington State law, you have one year after the day upon which the injury occurred to file a claim after your injury or occupational disease.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with a Seattle Workers' Compensation Attorney

If you have been injured on the job and need help wading through the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries maze of forms and information, it's best to hire a workers' compensation attorney in Seattle to represent you. Foster Law, P.C. has a wealth of experience handling workers' compensation claims. Please call 206-682-3436 or contact us online to set up a FREE consultation.

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