In Illinois, injured workers may qualify for vocational rehabilitation if they meet certain requirements and are able to return to their original positions. If the worker is physically unable to complete the training, he or she may be eligible for additional programs through the Department of Human Services or a workers’ comp lawyer.
Rights of Injured Employees
Injured employees who are unable to work in their pre-accident jobs have a right to a program that will provide education and training for opportunities for new employment. However, eligible employees must comply with the rules of the program and the Illinois Department of Human Services. They are required to communicate regularly with their counselors, comply with all job-related requests, and obtain written approval for any payments for vocational rehabilitation.
Despite an injured employee’s best efforts with compliance, sometimes problems arise. The employee may run into difficulties with eligibility, be denied services, or experience delays in receiving services. If this happens, the employee may need to file an appeal with the Illinois Department of Human Services.
What Is Vocational Rehabilitation?
Suffering an injury that limits an employee’s ability to return to a job that requires physical activity also limits earning power. The intent of vocational rehabilitation is to return injured employees to suitable employment when there is evidence that doing so will increase the worker’s earning capacity. Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, employers are responsible for the cost of the vocational rehabilitation program, along with maintenance expenses like travel costs and living expenses.
How Does One Qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation?
To qualify for vocational rehabilitation, certain requirements must be met:
- The injured employee must be under work restrictions from a licensed physician.
- The employee is physically unable to return to work.
- The employer has no available work that matches the physician’s work restrictions for the employee.
- The injured employee has been unable to find other work that matches the work restrictions.
- The employee and insurer agree to a vocational rehabilitation plan.
After applying for a plan, the employee will go through an assessment with a vocational counselor. The employee’s work injury restrictions, work experience, educational background, and career interests will be used to help determine existing skills and job placement. A vocational rehabilitation program may last between six to 18 months.