Perhaps you were injured while at work, and that injury left you unable to perform your normal job duties. Mississippi workers’ compensation is intended to be a compromise between employee and employer interests, meaning you don’t have to prove negligence in order to receive compensation because workers’ comp is no-fault, but your benefits are limited. You may be entitled to receive wage loss benefits, medical expenses and vocational rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation is applicable if you are unable to work in the same capacity as you did before, therefore need to train for a new career.
What Services are Provided in Workers’ Comp Vocational Rehabilitation?
A specialist, usually known as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, will help those with work-related disabilities return to gainful employment. The services provided could include testing, job placement, vocational counseling, on-the-job training, or retraining an injured worker to allow them to return to work. If your doctor has stated you cannot perform the same tasks at work as you did before, you will need to discuss vocational rehabilitation with the insurance claim representative or your own attorney. You will require approval from the insurer or the Commission in order to receive rehabilitation services. If those services are denied, your attorney can request a hearing before a Commissioner who will decide whether rehabilitation services are necessary and appropriate.
The process of obtaining Mississippi workers’ comp rehabilitation generally begins with the Rehabilitation Department reviewing your first injury report. Following a total review of the injury, it will be determined whether vocational rehabilitation can be beneficial to you. A referral is sent to the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, then to a counselor who serves the community where you live.
In some instances, a person who is financially able to pay a portion of the expenses related to work rehabilitation might be asked to do so. The vocational rehabilitation counselor will meet with you, discussing specific limitations as well as your remaining abilities. There will be an evaluation, then discussions regarding medical issues, potential training and education, assistive technology when appropriate, future employment and follow-up. Workers’ comp will, generally speaking, cover up to two years of vocational rehabilitation.
You are additionally entitled to wage loss benefits under workers’ comp while you are pursuing vocational rehabilitation, so that your bills are paid while you are undergoing re-training. There is a major incentive for your employer, as well as the workers’ comp insurer, to help you with retraining and job placement because if you are working elsewhere, you will not continue to receive wage loss benefits. If, however, you are only able to find a job which pays considerably less than the job you were injured at, workers’ comp may be required to pay the difference in your salary.
If your employer stops your wage loss payments once you begin vocational rehab, if your vocational counselor ignores work restrictions set by your doctor, or if the counselor pushes you to accept low-paying jobs, you may need to speak to a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney, Further if you are sent to a vocational counselor for something known as “transferable skills analysis,” then find your wage loss benefits cut based on a non-existent job, your attorney will also need to address the situation from a legal standpoint.
Because workers’ comp wage loss only pays approximately two-thirds of your prior salary, most people are much better off returning to work, when possible. In other words, workers’ compensation will never pay the equivalent to your wages, therefore if your injury prevents you from returning to your normal job, you should definitely ask about workers’ compensation vocational rehabilitation.
If you are considering a workers’ comp settlement, or if your workers’ comp claim has been denied, speak to a knowledgeable Mississippi workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible. At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys fight aggressively for injured employees and their families – to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766 or (601) 265-7766.
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