Whether you love your job or you tolerate it, the fact is that you need it. Your paycheck covers your mortgage or rent, buys groceries, and allows you to afford the many things you and your family need throughout the week. If you lost your income, it would not take long before your family would begin to struggle.
This is why your primary focus after suffering a workplace injury is getting well so you can get back to work and provide for your family. However, if your injuries are severe, you may be unable to return to your previous job or to the position you held before your injury. If this is the case, you may have the right to additional services under your employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
What is vocational rehabilitation?
Depending on your injury, you may have undergone physical rehabilitation of some kind to regain the use, mobility or strength in the affected part of your body. Your therapist may have shown you new ways to use your muscles to achieve results similar to the way your body worked before the accident.
In the same way, a different kind of rehabilitation seeks to provide you with broader opportunities to re-enter the work force. Vocational rehabilitation teaches you how to use different skills to obtain meaningful employment. Some services that may be available to you include:
- Testing to determine whether you have skills that will easily transfer to another job
- Assessment of whether ergonomic changes at the workplace will allow you to continue working at your old job
- Assistance with obtaining workplace accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Help with analyzing the job market in the fields where your skills lie
- Resume and job application assistance
- Access to job interview coaches
- Training for new jobs, including tuition to further your education
If your Illinois employer offers you vocational rehabilitation, it may be in your best interests to take advantage of it and follow through with whatever resources are available to you. Otherwise, you may lose your workers’ compensation benefits. The severity of your injury and the length of time your medical team expects you to be out of work will determine what services your employer must offer. In some cases, workers’ compensation may even pay for living expenses and child care while you train for work.
It is also possible that you feel you deserve vocational rehabilitation, but your employer does not offer it. If this is your situation, your attorney can be a great resource for options to help you claim what you rightfully deserve.