Can I obtain a job retraining voucher through the California workers’ compensation system if I am so disabled that I cannot return to my preinjury job?
The answer is yes! If you are medically unable to return to your preinjury employer and/or preinjury job, you may be entitled to a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit Voucher (“voucher”) through the California workers’ compensation system. For some injured workers, it just may not be possible or make sense to return to your preinjury job. For example, you may be in too much pain and/or stress, or your employer does not have any light-duty work that accommodates your medical condition. Or, you may even see yourself going to school to retrain for a new job in a different field of work because your workers’ compensation doctor says you should not return to the same kind of work you did before your injury. In these situations, you may be eligible for the voucher benefit through the workers’ compensation system.
What is a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit Voucher and how does it work?
The monetary amount of the voucher is based on your date of injury. For dates of injury of 1/1/13 and thereafter, the voucher is $6,000. The money from the voucher has restrictions on how it can be used in the vocational retraining process. For example, the voucher money does not go directly to you, but rather goes directly to a State of California approved school. A portion of the voucher money may also be used to pay for a vocational counselor, trade license(s), tools, equipment, computer, and books used in the vocational retraining process. To be eligible for the voucher, a workers’ compensation doctor must find you medically unable to return to work at your preinjury job. This means that a workers’ compensation doctor must make a medical finding that you are a Qualified Injured Worker (“QIW”) for purposes of entitlement to the voucher based on your medical inability to return to work to your preinjury job. For dates of injury of 1/1/13 and thereafter, if you use the voucher, you may be eligible for an additional $5,000, payable directly to you through the State of California’s Return To Work Supplement Program (“RTWSP”). Payments from the RTWSP are available to an injured worker whose permanent disability rating is disproportionately low in comparison to their wage loss. There are timeframes for using the voucher and applying to the RTWSP. For dates of injury of 1/1/13 and thereafter, the voucher expires two years after the date the voucher is furnished to you by the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier, or five years from the date of your injury, whichever is later. The application to the RTWSP must be made one year from the date the voucher was served on you by the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier, or one year from the date the RTWSP was implemented on 4/13/15 (i.e., expiration on 4/13/16), whichever is later.
When during my workers’ compensation case can I receive a voucher?
Typically, the voucher is not provided to you by the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier until the time your workers’ compensation case settles. Since it may take time to reach a settlement in your workers’ compensation case, we always recommend that if you see yourself returning to work and/or enrolling in school for job retraining, that you do not wait on the workers’ compensation system. You should begin making efforts to return to work and/or enroll in school. Ford & Wallach works closely with vocational experts that specialize in helping injured workers maximize their use of the voucher, find new career paths, connect with schools that accept the voucher, and make applications to the RTWSP.
I have questions and may need legal help with my workers’ comp claim…
Let us help you achieve a successful outcome in the workers’ compensation system! As knowledgeable attorneys that specialize in helping injured workers, Ford & Wallach is committed to obtaining the best results in your workers’ compensation case that are tailored to your needs and goals. Ford & Wallach offers a free consultation and will determine the best course of action that will protect your rights. Our workers’ compensation attorneys will fight for all of the benefits you are entitled to. Contact us by email or call 213.380.3140.