Helping workers who are injured on the job is about more than just providing necessary care. To the extent possible, the workers' compensation system has a legal mandate to provide additional rehabilitative services.
As we described in our last post, rehabilitation can take two forms: physical rehabilitation and vocational rehabilitation. The first incorporates the elements most people associate with minor to moderate injuries: pain management, diagnostic tests, surgeries, and physical therapy.
In this post, we look at vocational rehabilitation and benefits to draw upon in the event of significant disability.
The goal of the rehab process
The intent of any rehabilitation process is to provide services identified under accepted medical guidelines to restore you to full function.
When full function is not possible, rehabilitation should reduce disability to the greatest extent and facilitate a return to work. In the most serious cases, disability may make it impossible to return to your former work. The rehabilitative goals might then become vocational and focus on helping you live life to the fullest and obtain alternative employment.
Rehabilitation services under the New York Workers' Compensation system are supplied in ways beyond medical care. These include:
- Vocational rehabilitation: Various programs to provide a disabled worker with guidance on realistic ways to return to work.
- Selective placement: In the event you are restricted in function because of permanent disability, placement services seek to align you with a position that suits your capabilities.
- Social services: Disabling work injuries don't affect just you. Injuries can lead to family friction and create financial problems. To help, the workers' compensation system provides access to social workers to help with a vast array of issues, including negotiating payment plans on rent, utilities or other creditors.
Regardless of programs accessed, the law requires the continuation of cash benefits. And if you are unable to find work that allows you to earn what you did before your injury; ongoing compensation benefits may be possible, though at lower rates.
Getting the benefits to which you are entitled can be a struggle, but it is easier when coordinated by a skilled workers' comp attorney.