When am I Entitled to Rehabilitation Services in Work Comp?
The purpose of rehabilitation services in Minnesota workers’ compensation is to help injured workers return to work. Some injured workers are able to return with their former employer in a modified position. Other injuries may prevent the employee from returning to the same position with the date of injury employer and he or she may need assistance with finding employment elsewhere. And in some situations injured workers may need additional training or skills to find suitable employment. Minnesota Statute § 176.102, subdivision 1(b) governs rehabilitation services under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act:
Rehabilitation is intended to restore the injured employee so that the employee may return to a job related to the employee’s former employment or to a job in another work area which produces an economic status as close as possible to that the employee would have enjoyed without disability.
Rehabilitation in workers’ compensation include services such as vocational rehabilitation and medical management. Vocational rehabilitation can entail: job counseling, job analysis, vocational evaluation, job modification, job development, job placement, labor market surveys, vocational testing, transferable skills analysis work adjustment job-seeking skills training, on the job training, and retraining. Minn. R. 5220.0100, subp. 29.
An injured worker may request a Rehabilitation Consultation or an insurer may provide one on its own volition. A Rehabilitation Consultation is performed by a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant, more commonly referred to as a QRC. QRCs are licensed by the State of Minnesota and assist injured workers with medical management and with vocational rehabilitation or getting the injured worker back to work. Nurse case managers are not QRCs and do not perform the same tasks. During a Rehabilitation Consultant the QRC conducts an interview of the employee and may examine medical records and reports from the employer and insurer to determine whether or not the injured worker qualifies for rehabilitation services.
If the QRC determines that the employee is a “qualified employee” then a QRC will begin to perform medical management and other rehabilitation tasks on behalf of the injured worker. Generally, an injured worker is a qualified employee if: (1) the employee is unable to do his or her normal job duties because of the injury; (2) the employer is unable to provide suitable light duty; and (3) the services will benefit the injured worker. If there is a dispute over whether or not the injured worker is a “qualified employee” then a rehabilitation conference is scheduled at the Department of Labor and Industry and an arbitrator will decide.
A QRC will then develop a rehabilitation plan that outlines the specific vocational goals and services needed to reach those goals. This plan is then filed with the State of Minnesota. Rehabilitation services, including payment of the QRC for his or her time is the responsibility of the insurer.
An employer has the right to choose his or her own QRC. But, most insurers will not tell employees of this right and instead appoint their own. While QRCs are technically neutral third parties, if a QRC is appointed by the insurer, then this QRC will not be looking out for the injured worker’s best interest and will instead be trying to save the insurance company as much money as possible. Having a good QRC who is working in your best interest can be vital to your workers’ compensation claim. If the insurer has already appointed a QRC, the injured worker has two months from that date in which to request a change in QRC, to which the insurer cannot object.
If the insurer has appointed a QRC in your case, call us as soon as possible so that we can help you request a reputable QRC to represent you. Contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free no-obligation consultation. The attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. can explain how rehabilitation services work in more detail and ensure you are receiving all the benefits to which you are entitled under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.