What Workers Need to Know About DBA Vocational Rehabilitation
Vocational rehabilitation is a common term used to describe any program that helps an injured worker qualify for a job or change career paths. Most programs aim to place workers as quickly as possible into careers that offer similar wages as their previous employment. Depending on the program, workers can receive occupational assessments, work skills tests and training, career counseling, job placement, and modifications in the worker’s previous job that allows the employee to be rehired.
Some of the most common DBA vocational rehab questions include:
Who pays for my job retraining?
The Special Fund allows DBA workers to receive vocational rehabilitation free of charge, and some employers or company insurers may also offer similar vocational services.
Can I choose the program?
Since the government absorbs the costs of these programs, you must choose a federally sponsored vocational rehabilitation program in order to enjoy the free benefit.
Are these programs mandatory?
While vocational rehabilitation is voluntary, your employer or insurer can request that a vocational rehabilitation counselor evaluate your injuries and abilities in order to determine what types of jobs you could reasonably perform. If you are found to be employable in a sustainable job, your compensation could be reduced.
Will I have to give up my disability benefits?
No. You can still receive your disability compensation for the duration of the program, and can collect your total benefits if attending vocational retraining sessions prevents you from working.
Who is eligible for free vocational rehabilitation through the DBA?
These services are available to any DBA employee who has a work injury that prevents him or her from returning to the job held before injury. It will be up to the Office of Workers’ Compensation programs (OWCP) to determine whether or not a worker may benefit from these programs, but usually workers who have some degree of lifelong disability are accepted.
There are many ways a worker can enter into vocational rehabilitation. Once your doctor determines that you will be unable to perform your previous job duties, both you and your previous employer can request an evaluation for retraining services from the OWCP. To learn more about your options after a work injury, look through our free book, DBA Resource Guide.
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