A question that arises in many workers’ compensation cases is: What happens if I never regain enough functioning to perform my past job? The answer depends on many factors, but one option available to a person who may have done a physically demanding job-one they are no longer able to perform due to their injury related permanent restrictions-is vocational retraining.
If an individual who has achieved the level of maximum medical improvement is unable to earn at least 80% of his/her compensation rate (compensation rate is the figure that is 2/3 of the average weekly wage), he/she may eligible for vocational retraining services through the Division of Workers’ Compensation. The State of Florida will provide tuition, books, and other material services to an injured worker if the State believes the individual possesses the necessary skills and aptitude to be enrolled in a State sponsored retraining program. If such a program is awarded, the individual would become eligible for up to 52 weeks of Rehabilitative Temporary Total Disability Benefits through the carrier (subject to the 104 week cap on temporary indemnity benefits). These benefits would be provided for an initial period of 26 weeks which could be extended by an additional 26 weeks if the person continues to be enrolled in the State sponsored program and is making sufficient academic progress.
A brochure was recently issued by the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation regarding the Reemployment Services Program. It can be viewed here. The brochure lists success stories and general information regarding the program. The brochure provides answers to many frequently asked questions, such as:
[accordion-item title=”What is the Reemployment Services Program?”] The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation Reemployment Services Program provides services to help injured workers obtain employment when their job related injuries or illnesses prevent them from returning to their usual line of work.[/accordion-item]
[accordion-item title=”Who is eligible for reemployment services?”]Although other factors may affect eligibility, you must, at minimum:
- Have a compensable injury or illness that is covered under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law,
- Have a date of accident or illness on or after 10/01/1989,
- Be legally eligible to work in the United States, and
- Submit a “Request for Screening” application to the Division within one year (365 days) of your last receipt of carrier paid monetary benefits, medical treatment or settlement.
[accordion-item title=”Who decides what services I am eligible for?”]Upon receipt of required documentation, Reemployment Services Program staff conduct a vocational assessment to determine which services you are eligible to receive. If additional information is needed after the assessment, you will be referred for a vocational evaluation.
If a vocational evaluation is conducted, the recommendations of the evaluator will be reviewed to determine the best plan for returning you to suitable gainful employment.[/accordion-item]
[accordion-item title=”How are services provided?”]The Division will contract with a professional rehabilitation provider to provide the authorized services.[/accordion-item]
[accordion-item title=”How much do the services cost?”]An injured employee is responsible for transportation expenses for all appointments. All other services are provided at no cost to eligible injured employees. If an injured employee needs immediate assistance with daily living expenses, Reemployment Services Program staff may refer individuals to community based organizations.[/accordion-item]
Here is a sample success story from the brochure:
A 45 year old female injured her shoulder while working and had physical restrictions that prevented her from returning to work as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant (CNA). She received reemployment services through the Division of Workers’ Compensation and was able to return to work within seven months of being released by her physician. She is now working as a Customer Service Representative and is earning wages comparable to the amount she made as a CNA.
To submit a request, complete the online application located on the Injured Employee Web Portal at the link here.
If you have questions about retraining, or have questions for a workers comp attorney in Tampa, Fl, please do not hesitate to contact us to speak with an experienced Tampa work comp lawyer today. We offer free consultations, and there is never a fee if we don’t recover benefits on your behalf.