Vocational Rehabilitation and the Supplemental Job Displacement Voucher (SJDV)

In some cases, an injured worker finds that he will never completely recover from his injury and will never be able to return to his previous position. This state of affairs generates the need for occupational retraining, and it is precisely this need that the workers’ compensation vocational rehabilitation program is designed to address. As a knowledgeable Thousand Oaks Vocational Rehabilitation Attorney from the Law Office of Kenton D. Trigger can help guide you through the Workers’ Compensation process and fight for your rights.

To apply for Vocational Rehabilitation, your doctor must find that you are a Qualified Injured Worker (QIW). If your application is accepted, you will receive a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit in the form of a school voucher worth up to several thousand dollars. You can use this voucher to pay for tuition, fees, books, and other educational expenses that you incur in retraining for another position.

Workers Comp Vocational Rehabilitation - training pic

HOW IT WORKS:

To qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation benefits, your doctor must find that you are a Qualified Injured Worker (QIW). This means you are unable to, or likely to be unable to, return to and perform your usual and customary job. As many people only have one set of skills or have only worked a few different jobs throughout their life, being found to be a Qualified Injured Worker could significantly restrict their ability to earn a living. As such,  this system was created to train the injured worker in a new field within their restrictions so that they may return to suitable gainful employment.

As of January 1, 2004, the old system of vocational rehabilitation has been eliminated and a school voucher system, known as a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit (SJDB), has put in its place. Under the new system, the insurance company will provide a voucher to the injured worker which can be used for school tuition, fees, books, computers, and other expenses required by the school for training. To qualify, the injury must have caused a permanent disability and there must not have been an offer of regular, modified, or alternative work made by the employer. This offer must also be made within specific timeframes depending on the date of injury.

The amount of the voucher varies, depending on the date of injury and amount of disability. For injuries on or after January 1, 2013, the voucher is $6,000.00. The voucher also must be used within two years of being issued or five years from the date of injury, whichever comes later, or it will expire. For vouchers issued prior to January 1, 2013, there is no expiration date.

Unlike other workers’ compensation benefits, the voucher is not a cash benefit. However, under some circumstances, a voc rehab attorney can help you settle your rights to the voucher for a lump-sum cash payment. This payment may not be equal to the full voucher amount and must be reviewed and approved by a Workers’ Compensation Administrative Law Judge.

If you have questions about how this will affect your workers’ comp case, please call me an experienced westlake village vocational rehabilitation lawyer, at (805) 430-3300

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should I do if my employer doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance?

If your employer doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance, you have three possible options, depending on the circumstances:

  • Your employer may be “self-insured.” (California allows large corporations to self-insure instead of using an outside workers’ compensation insurance provider.)
  • You might be able to file a workers’ compensation claim against your employer anyway and collect your benefits from the California Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund.
  • You might be able to file an ordinary personal injury claim against your employer (you will have to prove fault, but you will also be eligible for pain and suffering damages).

How do I become eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits?

You can qualify if:

  • You suffer from a work-related permanent partial disability; and
  • Your employer does not offer you regular, modified, or alternative work within a specified time period.

Of course, if you are 100 percent disabled, you will not qualify for this program since it would be unlikely to benefit you.

What does “permanent and stationary” mean?

“Permanent and stationary,” otherwise known as “maximum medical improvement,” is a term used by your doctor to indicate that your medical condition has improved as much as it is ever likely to. In other words, further medical treatment is unlikely to significantly improve your condition. This determination can be relevant to the amount of your benefits and when they begin.

What if I disagree with my doctor’s determination of my ability to work?

You can request an examination by a Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) to resolve your dispute. A QME is a medical professional (usually a doctor) who is licensed by the state of California. You can also agree with the claims administrator on a neutral third-party doctor who can evaluate you and resolve the dispute.

What does the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit cover?

The Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit is not a cash benefit. Nevertheless, it can be used to pay the following expenses:

  • Testing, licensing, and certification fees
  • Tuition, books, and school fees
  • Computer equipment
  • Miscellaneous related expenses

Will I have to give up my disability benefits if participate in vocational rehabilitation?

No. You can still receive disability benefits while undergoing vocational rehabilitation, and you can receive total benefits if your attendance makes it impossible for you to work.

When is the voucher issued?

Your employer will be subject to a certain time period to offer you regular or alternative job duties. Your voucher is due within 20 days of the offer deadline. To avoid liability for vocational rehabilitation, your employer must offer a job that pays at least 85 percent of what you were making that the time you were injured, and the job must be expected to last at least one year. The voucher is issued on Form 10133.57.

How do I use the voucher?

You have two options:

  • Show your voucher to the school you select, and they will contact the insurance company for payment.
  • Pay the amounts yourself, and then claim reimbursement from the insurance company. You must sign the voucher and provide it to the insurance company together with your payment receipts, and you must be reimbursed within 45 days.

Does the voucher expire?

The voucher will expire on the later of the following two dates:

  • Two years after it is issued, or
  • Five years after your injury.

Where can I find eligible training providers?

You cannot use your voucher to pay expenses for just any kind of training – you must use an eligible training provider approved by the state of California. This list is extensive, and it includes providers that offer classroom instruction, correspondence, and apprenticeship programs.

No Legal Fees Unless You Win

Injured victims do not pay their lawyers for eloquent advocacy – they pay for victory. And victory is measured in dollars and cents. You have an absolute right to demand value for your money – which is why your total legal bill from me will be zero until and unless you win your case. I like it that way because it puts us on the same side. I only win if you win too.

Don’t Delay – Call a Trusted Vocation Rehabilitation Lawyer Today

The Law Office of Kenton D. Trigger is here to help you and fight for your rights. Even before I have accepted your case, I offer free initial consultations. During this time you can explain your circumstances to me and we can explore your options together. You will enjoy complete confidentiality during this consultation, all with no obligation on your part.

If you have suffered a workplace accident, contact myself, a skillful Thousand Oaks Vocational Rehabilitation Lawyer. Call me at (805) 430-3300 or contact me online. If you are too injured to come to my office, I can come to you. Talk to an experienced Westlake Village vocational rehabilitation attorney now.