Workers who are injured on the job in Maryland are eligible for workers’ compensation coverage if their injury or illness “arises out of and in the course of employment.” When an injury or illness causes a worker to be unable to do the job he or she did before, the worker may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation, paid for by workers’ compensation insurance.
Vocational rehabilitation trains and prepares workers to do work they may not have done before the injury or illness, but that they can handle along with the partial disability caused by their injury or illness.
In Maryland, covered vocational rehabilitation services include:
- Coordination of medical services;
- Vocational assessment and evaluation;
- Vocational counseling, plan development, and plan monitoring;
- Vocational rehabilitation training;
- Job development; and
- Job placement.
The Maryland Vocational Rehabilitation Process
Vocational rehabilitation programs are typically tailored to the needs of the injured worker. However, vocational rehabilitation usually follows the same basic timeline. First, the injured worker visits with a vocational counselor to discuss the worker’s employment background, history, skills, and limitations. If the worker wants to do a particular type of work or go to a particular school, he or she should mention this at the meeting. The vocational counselor will take these wishes into consideration when setting up the vocational rehabilitation plan.
In Maryland, both public and private vocational counselors are available. Public vocational counselors work with the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), while private vocational counselors run their own practices or work within private organizations.
Second, the vocational counselor develops an employment plan and goals that fit with the worker’s current abilities and limitations. Although vocational counselors try to match workers to new jobs that pay similar wages and benefits to their old job, an equal salary or benefits package is not guaranteed.
Third, the worker, employer, and vocational counselor discuss whether the plan is appropriate. If the parties don’t agree to the plan, they may go to the commissioner for a hearing. Finally, once everyone agrees or the commissioner has made a determination, the plan is put into action.
What Steps Are Necessary for Obtaining Vocational Rehabilitation?
Workers’ compensation coverage is required by Maryland law for up to 24 months of vocational training. Workers who need more than 24 months of training must find other ways to pay for the training past the end of the coverage. A training program may also last fewer than 24 months if the worker needs less time to learn new skills.
Before workers’ compensation insurance will cover vocational rehabilitation, you will first need to show that you cannot go back to your old job, even with accommodations. This is proven by obtaining a medical report, which is a necessary step in finding compensation. After proving the legitimacy of your disability, a vocational rehabilitation counselor can help you find a suitable job you can do elsewhere or a proper means of retraining. If vocational rehabilitation might be a concern for you, an experienced work injury attorney can help you choose an appropriate counselor.
Finding a Skilled Work Injury Attorney in Maryland
At Alpert Schreyer Poe, LLC, our experienced Maryland workers’ compensation attorneys are dedicated to helping injured workers recover after an accident by finding them full and fair coverage and compensation for their injuries and/or illnesses. We understand the devastating nature of on-the-job injuries and how an injured worker may fall victim to serious financial issues without enrollment in vocational rehabilitation.
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