What are Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits for Injured Maryland Workers?
Vocational rehabilitation is a specific benefit available to qualifying employees under Maryland workers’ compensation laws. To qualify for vocational rehabilitation, the employee must sustain an injury arising out of their employment. Furthermore, the injury in question must prevent the employee from returning to their previous job duties and responsibilities.
The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (the Commission) oversees the administration of vocational rehabilitation services. If approved for this program, an injured employee can receive a variety of benefits, including employment testing, placement, counseling, and training. Ultimately, vocational rehabilitation aims to help injured employees return to work in some capacity.
Who Provides Vocational Rehabilitation Services?
Vocational rehabilitation providers are required to enroll and register with the state. Only organizations and individuals who registered properly are allowed to provide vocational rehabilitation services.
The types of professionals who typically register as vocational rehabilitation providers include but are not necessarily limited to:
- Nurses certified as case managers;
- Occupational therapists
- Physical therapists;
- Rehabilitation counselors; and
- Vocational evaluators.
What is the Timeline of Vocational Rehabilitation Services?
The typical timeline for vocational rehabilitation services involves a four-step process in Maryland:
- First Step – Complete Counselor Interview. The injured employee must complete a counselor interview. During this interview, the employee will provide important details concerning their employment background and medical history, including the job-related injury and any corresponding limitations.
- Second Step – Develop Rehabilitation Plan. Using information from the interview and other documentation, the counselor will develop a plan for vocational rehabilitation. The counselor tailors this plan specifically to the injured worker in question, taking into account the employee’s work experience and physical limitations.
- Third Step – Reach Mutual Agreement. Both the injured employee and the counselor must agree on the vocational rehabilitation plan, including the selection of a qualified provider. If the employee and counselor cannot reach an agreement, the Commission will review the plan and determine how to proceed.
- Fourth Step – Execute Rehabilitation Plan. After the Commission approves a rehabilitation plan, the counselor will help the injured worker execute all corresponding requirements. The selected vocational rehabilitation provider(s) will work with the employee to complete treatment, training, and placement.
When Do Vocational Rehabilitation Services Expire?
In many cases, the injured employee will complete their vocational rehabilitation plan and find a new job. Even if that job does not match up exactly with their previous employment — in terms of duties, compensation, or benefits — the worker is employed once again. And that is the ultimate goal of vocational rehabilitation.
In certain cases, however, a vocational rehabilitation plan may conclude before the injured employee secures another job. In those cases, the provider must contact the employee at least 15 days before the plan expires to recommend:
- Expiration or termination of the plan without any additional services;
- Extension of the plan under the same conditions; or
- Creation of a new plan to help the worker secure a job.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal help with vocational rehabilitation or other workers’ compensation benefits in Maryland, it can be exceedingly constructive to consult with a well-established workers’ compensation attorney. The Baltimore workers’ compensation attorneys at Iamele & Iamele, LLP have established credentials in the field of workers’ compensation, including vocational rehabilitation. If you need legal help, contact us today for a free initial consultation.