This is rare, but it happens. And if it happens to you that is unfortunate because it means that you’ve suffered a major injury and can’t return to your normal line of work.
When this does happen to you, the insurance company has an obligation to pay for vocational rehabilitation. This can mean many things, but usually it means that they provide a vocational counselor to work with you and figure out what types of jobs you can perform. Often they assist you in looking for jobs, preparing a resume, practicing for interviews, etc.
Their job is to propose a vocational rehabilitation plan that can get you to the highest level of wages possible. Of course the plan has to be realistic. So if you are sixty years old and didn’t graduate from high school, you probably aren’t going to see a plan that suggest your learn a new field and get trained for that.
On the other hand, a younger worker with skills can get re-trained for a new career. Sometimes this can mean taking computer classes. At times it can mean sending you to college. There was a recent case in which the Workers’ Compensation Commission ordered that a severely injured plastics worker should go to Northern Illinois University to get a teaching certificate. This would put his earning potential as high as $70,000. Without it he had earning potential as low as $18,000 and change.
Of note is that the plan that was presented to the Arbitrator was not created by the insurance company counselor, but instead by a vocational counselor that the worker’s lawyer hired. The Arbitrator specifically found this counselor to be more persuasive, reliable and credible than the one the insurance company paid for that said college was not needed. This worker had been laid off by his employer and had RSD in his right hand following a surgery. If the insurance company had their way, he would have walked away with no career prospects and fended for himself the rest of his life. But this is exactly why employers have insurance and the Illinois work comp laws are designed to protect guys like this. And in this case they worked perfectly.
One thing to know is that while you are vocational rehabilitation, no matter how long it takes, the insurance company has to pay you maintenance benefits which is financially the exact same thing that TTD benefits are, but just called something else. And it’s very important that you cooperate in this process or you could lose your benefits.
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