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Workers Injured Overseas Can Get Free Career Retraining Under the Defense Base Act

There wasn’t much to be thankful for after your injury overseas, but the coverage you received for your medical care and physical rehabilitation was one of the few bright spots in your recovery. Your hospitalization was completely covered by the Defense Base Act, but now you’ve discovered that you cannot return to the same job you used to do—the job you have done all your life—because of the limitations of your injury. How are you supposed to continue providing for your family if you have no way of getting another job?

How to Get Vocational Rehabilitation Under the Defense Base Act

The Defense Base Act offers injured overseas workers another benefit after an accident: career retraining services, also known as vocational rehabilitation. These services help permanently injured employees who cannot return to their pre-injury employment to find jobs with similar pay.

Am I eligible?

In order to receive these services, the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) will examine the patient’s medical records to determine whether the employee is permanently disabled and whether vocational rehabilitation is the best choice for the employee.

What kinds of assistance are offered?

Employees may undergo career skills assessments, counseling sessions, skills testing, modification options (for work in a similar field), job training, and job placement assistance.

Do I have to pay for it?

Services are covered by funds from the OWCP, and some costs are paid by the patient’s employer or insurance carrier, so retraining will not have any cost to the employee.

Can these services affect my benefits?

Possibly. While injured workers are not required to take vocational rehabilitation, your employer’s insurance company may assume that if you did not attend these services it’s because you are able to perform other work, and could reduce the amount of your compensation.

How do I apply?

As soon as your doctor issues a medical opinion stating that you medically stable but are unable to return to your previous job, you may apply to participate in vocational rehabilitation. You or your attorney should request a vocational evaluation at the OWCP district office where your claim has been filed.

It may take some time for workers to complete vocational rehabilitation training before they are able to pursue new employment. As a result, workers who are accepted into an OWCP-sponsored career retraining service are eligible to receive total disability compensation if they are unable to work during the program. To find out what benefits you are your family may be entitled to, click the link on this page to read our free guide, Win Your Defense Base Act Case: The Ultimate Straight Talk Roadmap to The Medical Treatment and Money You and Your Family Deserve.

William Turley
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