Navigating the aftermath of a workplace injury can be a daunting task as you grapple with the possibility of rejoining the workforce or adjusting to new limitations.
You are not alone on this journey!
Minnesota’s retraining and rehabilitation services are specifically tailored to assist individuals like you in navigating the workman’s comp process. The primary goal of these services is to help you find your footing once again, cultivate new skills, and ultimately reintegrate into the workforce with newfound confidence and enthusiasm.
In this blog, we’ll answer some of the most commonly-asked questions about the various rehabilitation services and vocational retraining benefits available through Minnesota worker’s compensation.
We’ll shed light on the support networks in place, elucidate the process of accessing these invaluable services, and outline the steps you can follow to maximize the opportunities that lie ahead.
Armed with the proper guidance and resources, you can transform this challenging period into a journey of personal growth and a stepping stone toward a brighter future.
So, without further ado, let’s delve into the vast array of resources the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has in store for you!
What is the purpose of Minnesota’s vocational rehabilitation and retraining benefits for workman’s comp claimants?
The primary goal of these benefits is to provide services that facilitate the injured worker’s successful reintegration into the workforce and restore their pre-injury economic status.
Vocational rehabilitation benefits are designed to support injured workers as they navigate the challenges of returning to their former employment or exploring new career paths. These benefits help ensure a smooth transition for the injured employee returning to the workforce.
These programs strive to deliver an all-encompassing suite of services, including vocational counseling, job placement services, and retraining.
This comprehensive approach enables individuals to acclimate to new work settings or discover appropriate career opportunities that align with their skills, best interests, and circumstances.
What kinds of services are available through Minnesota’s rehabilitation and retraining benefits program?
Minnesota’s rehabilitation and retraining benefits program offers various rehabilitation services tailored to the individual needs of injured workers seeking to re-enter the workforce. These rehabilitation services include, but are not limited to:
- Initial rehabilitation consultation: A thorough evaluation of your skills, interests, and abilities to determine the most appropriate rehabilitation and retraining benefits for your unique situation.
- Vocational counseling: Professional support and advice to help you identify your strengths, transferable skills, and potential new career paths suited to your abilities.
- Retraining or skill development: Facilitate access to educational programs and vocational retraining opportunities to develop new skills or enhance existing ones, increasing employability in the job market.
- Job search assistance: Support in identifying and applying for attainable employment opportunities that align with your skills and interests.
- Job placement services: Assistance in securing suitable employment through modified employment within your previous field or in a new line of work.
- Minnesota worker’s compensation coordination: Ensuring that your rehabilitation and retraining services are integrated with your workers’ compensation benefits provides seamless support throughout the process.
The specific services provided will depend on your unique needs and circumstances, as determined by your Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC).
By leveraging the comprehensive suite of resources considered services available through Minnesota’s rehabilitation and retraining benefits program, you can confidently navigate your path to a fulfilling career post-injury.
Am I entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits?
An employee is entitled to receive rehabilitation services or the services of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC) if deemed a “qualified employee.”
A qualified employee:
- Is permanently precluded or is likely to be permanently precluded from engaging in the employee’s usual and customary occupation or from engaging in the job the employee held at the time of injury;
- Cannot reasonably be expected to return to suitable gainful employment with the date-of-injury employer; and
- Can reasonably be expected to return to suitable gainful employment through the provision of rehabilitation services, considering the treating physician’s opinion of the employee’s work ability.
Unfortunately, for injured workers, if your workers’ compensation claim is denied, the insurance company will not pay for rehabilitation services from a QRC.
This means that you will need to contact an attorney who can file a rehabilitation request or a claim petition on your behalf to demand your entitlement to these benefits.
What is a QRC?
“QRC” stands for Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant. The role of QRC is to provide both vocational rehabilitation and medical management services to injured workers with the goal of returning the injured worker to suitable, gainful employment.
A QRC will attend your medical appointments and clarify your physical restrictions with your medical providers; communicate these restrictions to your employer, the insurance company, and your attorney; and help you find a job within your physical and/or mental health restrictions and at a wage as close as possible to your pre-injury earnings.
To help you return to work, a QRC will also provide you with direct job placement leads and help you with job search, interview preparation, and resume formation.
Can I change my Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant?
Yes—but there is a strict time frame in which you must make the switch to a new QRC.
If you don’t have an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer representing you, the QRC was likely assigned to you by the insurance adjuster. In our experience, QRC chosen by an insurance adjuster will be motivated to get you back to work as soon as possible, even if you are not physically or mentally ready to return.
A QRC that you choose will clarify your restrictions with your treating doctor and make sure that when you return to work, it is in a position that is physically suitable. They are not going to push you to return to work before you’re ready to do so.
Due to the importance of selecting your own Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant, I recommend that as soon as you are assigned a QRC, you speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who can connect you with a QRC that their office uses frequently.
You must make this switch within 60 days of being assigned a QRC. You are not required to provide any reason for the switch, you just have to inform the insurance company that you have elected to select your own QRC within the first 60 days.
How does my QRC get paid?
The workers’ compensation insurer is responsible for paying for the costs and services of a QRC. An injured worker does not bear the burden of these expenses.
My clients are often concerned that getting a QRC after their work-related injury will cost them money, and that is simply not the case.
What happens if I cannot return to my original job due to my work injury?
If you find yourself unable to return to your original job as a result of your work injury, your Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant will collaborate with you to explore alternative employment options or retraining possibilities.
The process begins with thoroughly evaluating your current situation, considering your job duties, work restrictions, and transferable skills.
Your QRC will then develop a tailored retraining and rehabilitation plan that focuses on enhancing your existing skillset, acquiring new abilities, or adapting to different work environments. This rehabilitation plan also may involve enrolling in vocational courses, attending workshops, or participating in on-the-job training programs.
Finally, they will help you identify suitable new positions, considering your physical capabilities and the potential impact on your pre-injury economic status.
Throughout this process, your QRC will offer guidance and support, ensuring you have access to the necessary resources and job placement services to find sustainable work.
Your QRC will also work closely with you to ensure your formal retraining plan aligns with your long-term career goals and personal aspirations.
How long does it take to complete a rehabilitation and retraining program?
The duration of each program varies depending on the individual’s needs and the specific rehabilitation services provided. Some programs may be completed within a few weeks or months, while others could last several years, especially in cases involving extensive retraining.
Do I have to do a job search?
Yes, if you are receiving or claiming entitlement to ongoing wage loss benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act, you must perform a diligent job search. This means that you must actively look for work and apply for jobs as long as you are released to return to work in some capacity.
A QRC will make sure that you are performing a diligent job search and documenting that job search in a way that is accepted by the workers compensation insurance company.
Having a QRC on the file that knows what they are doing will protect you from any “diligent job search defense” that the insurance company may raise.
How can I ensure the success of my rehabilitation and retraining program?
Your success will largely depend on your commitment to the program and willingness to adapt and learn. Communicate openly with your QRC, set realistic goals, and actively participate in the services offered to increase your chances of a successful outcome.
Remember, each case is unique, and your Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant will be able to provide specific guidance and a rehab plan tailored to your individual needs.
By taking advantage of the resources available through Minnesota’s rehabilitation and job retraining programs, you can overcome the challenges of your workplace injury and forge a path toward a fulfilling career.