Reemployment after a Work Injury
What if you can’t go back to your old job after a work injury? If you can handle a different type of job – and if you are willing to undergo the education and training it takes – you can seek reemployment services in Florida.
For many people who are trying to recover and move on after a work injury or illness, these services can lead to a challenging, but satisfying transition to a new line of work.
If you would like to learn more about reemployment services or discuss your case, contact Orlando workers’ compensation attorney, Frank M. Eidson. He is a workers’ compensation attorney who has spent nearly three decades serving injured workers and their families in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida. He can explain your legal rights in a free case review.
What Are Reemployment Services?
The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) describes reemployment services as consisting of:
- Vocational counseling
- Job-seeking skills training
- Job analysis
- Transferable skills analysis
- Selective job placement
- Training and education
- Other “necessary and appropriate” services to help workers return to the labor force.
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer, or carrier, can provide these services. You can also request them from the DWC.
Workers’ Compensation Carrier Provides Reemployment Services
When 60 days passes after your work injury, your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier must determine if you can be reemployed and file a report with the DWC if these three conditions exist:
- You are receiving workers’ compensation benefits,
- You are unemployed, and
- You have not been voluntarily provided reemployment services or medical care coordination voluntarily.
Medical care coordination includes physical rehab, therapy, health training and monitoring. The goal is to minimize your recovery time without putting your health in jeopardy.
As long as you stay unemployed and continue to receive benefits, the carrier will need to do this review and report every 90 days.
The workers’ compensation carrier can also make you undergo a “reemployment assessment.” A rehabilitation provider – nurse, counselor, facility or agency – conducts this assessment. Within 30 days, the provider must give its recommendations to you and the carrier.
The provider may suggest reemployment services and medical care coordination for you. If so, you have 15 days to accept or reject those services. If you accept, you will be referred to a rehabilitation provider within 15 days.
The carrier can stop providing reemployment services to you and refer you to the DWC for a vocational reevaluation if:
- The rehabilitation provider finds that you need training and education, or
- You do not return to “suitable gainful employment” within 180 days after services began or after having received $2,500 in services.
A vocational evaluation is a test of your physical and intellectual abilities, aptitudes and achievements and work-related behaviors. The goal is to find the most cost-effective, medically feasible way to get you back to work.
If the carrier refers you to the DWC – or if you make your own request – the DWC will:
- Do training and education screening
- If needed, order a vocational evaluation
- If appropriate, order training, education and other services for you, or a “reemployment plan.”
The DWC will not approve a reemployment plan unless it finds that the plan will lead to you returning to a job that is reasonable in light of your age, education, work history, transferrable skills, previous job and your injury.
The services can be provided for 26 years and extended for 26 more weeks.
Employee Requests Reemployment Services
If your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier does not provide reemployment services, you can request them from the DWC.
You will need to complete and submit a Request for Screening form you can find here. You must send the form to the DWC within 365 days after your last workers’ compensation check or medical treatment.
You may be eligible to receive reemployment services if:
- You have reached maximum medical improvement, and
- You can’t earn at least 80 percent of your workers’ compensation rate (or 2/3 of your average earnings before your injury).
You must give DWC your work history for the past 15 years, medical information and educational background. An attorney can help you to compile these documents.
What Happens After You Request Reemployment Services?
After you submit the request, the DWC will assign a case manager to you. The case manager will:
- Interview you and review the documents in your case
- See if there is any work available for you with your former employer
- Determine what services, if any, you can receive
- Order a vocational evaluation.
Remember: the DWC will only order a reemployment plan for you if it will likely return you to “suitable gainful employment.”
What Are the Benefits of Reemployment Services?
When you receive reemployment services through workers’ compensation, you only have to pay for your transportation. Otherwise, all of the services you receive are free, including your books and tuition if you need education and training.
You are also eligible to receive rehabilitative temporary total disability benefits for an initial 26-week period. If you stay enrolled in training and are making “sufficient” progress, the benefits can be extended another 26 weeks.
Contact Orlando Workers’ Compensation Attorney, Frank M. Eidson, P.A.
Attorney Frank M. Eidson recognizes the need and desire that many workers have to get back to a job after suffering an injury. He also understands the concerns that some workers have about being “pushed” back into work too soon when they do not believe they are physically ready.
As you go through the reemployment process, protect your legal rights. Call Frank M. Eidson, P.A., or reach us through our online form. We would be glad to provide a free consultation.
Sources / More Information
- Reemployment Services – Workers’ Compensation, Florida Administrative Code & Register
- Reemployment Services, Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation
- § 440.491, Fla. Stat.,Florida Legislature
- Vocational Rehabilitation in Florida Workers’ Compensation Cases: A Comprehensive Review of Statutory and Case Law, The Florida Bar Journal