Have you or a loved one needed vocational rehabilitation due to a workplace illness or injury and are unsure of what to do next?
At Eley Law Firm, we work with individuals trying to navigate and understand the complex system of workers’ compensation in Colorado. And if you’re trying to figure out your next steps to receive vocational rehabilitation, we are more than happy to give you a free, no-obligation case consultation in your case. Request yours today.
In Colorado, there are 851,596 individuals living with disabilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Of those with disabilities in Colorado, only 47.9% of them are employed, as reported by the American Community Survey (ACS). This is a 35.3% difference between the employment rate of non-disabled and disabled people.
Vocational rehab – short for rehabilitation – is a broad term for the cluster of services geared toward improving function and ability in a previously injured worker.
The lower employment rates for individuals with disabilities are why an injured employee should have the opportunity for vocational rehabilitation. Additionally, vocational rehab isn’t just good for the employee, it’s long-term proven good for the workforce.
The Department of Labor found that when employees leave the workforce for good due to physical or emotional disabilities that prevent them from working, that can have adverse effects on any economy.
Losing valuable workers after a work-related injury or illness reduces the taxable base, decreases economic activity, and increases individual reliance on disability benefits.
Since 1986, employers and insurers are not required to provide vocational rehabilitation services as part of workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado.
The type of vocational rehab that results from a workers’ compensation claim has a lot of similarities with the vocational rehabilitation offered by Colorado’s Division of Vocational Employment (DVE). However, there are some key distinctions between the two.
Vocational rehab resulting from a workplace injury or illness seeks to help the injured person remain in the workforce. Individuals can receive occupational therapies, job counseling, training, and other support services from vocational rehab. This will likely be paid through workers’ compensation benefits until the patient hits maximum medical improvement (MMI).
MMI is a physician’s classification of a patient through workers’ compensation treatment.
To be eligible to receive vocational rehabilitation from the DVE, an individual must be at maximum medical improvement (MMI) and needs to be classified as disabled – even if the individual is not on disability benefits.
Working with a workers’ compensation lawyer is crucial to understanding the complexities surrounding vocational rehab benefits. Many employers don’t offer vocational rehab. And when they do, it’s mostly to serve best their interests, not the well-being of the injured employee.
Employers may offer vocational rehabilitation to avoid paying lifetime benefits for permanent total disability. It’s important to take advantage of these services to receive the full measure of benefits, as refusal may result in denied permanent total disability benefits.
So if you’re facing issues surrounding your rehabilitation rights in Denver, contact our team to receive your workers’ compensation case review today.