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Understanding Your Vocational Rehabilitation Rights in Florida

Posted on Monday, April 17, 2017
Blog, Workers' Compensation

DDB Law attorneys understand your vocational rehabilitation rights, and are your best advocates in Lakeland. According to Florida Workers’ Compensation statutes, Title 31, Labor, Chapter 440, if an employee who’s suffered an on-the-job injury that falls under Workers’ Compensation is still off the job 60 days after the date of injury and is receiving compensation for “temporary total, or temporary partial disability or wage loss,” the insurance provider has the duty to figure out if this employee “is likely to return to work.”

Florida Law for Serious Injuries at Work

The insurance carrier must make sure the injured Florida employee gets a reemployment assessment if the employee is at risk of remaining unemployed, and the employee has been very seriously injured. After the insurance company sends the employee to a state-certified provider for assessment, this testing is completed (within 30 days) with recommendations for reemployment services and the employee accepts the recommendation (within 15 days), the employee must begin receiving said services within the following 15 days.

If this reemployment provider ultimately decides that training and education are needed in order for this employee is to be “suitably gainfully employed,” and the employee hasn’t gone back to work in 180 days–or re-employment services reach $2500 in cost–(whichever comes first), the insurance provider must direct the employee to the state’s Department of Rehabilitation Services.

The Department may conduct its own training and education screening, and/or vocational evaluation, approve training and education, or agree to provide some other type of vocational services for this injured employee.

Workers’ Compensation Administration Trust Fund

This state Department of Rehabilitation may aid the employee is securing a high school equivalency diploma, or tap into the Workers’ Compensation Administration Trust Fund to pay for this employee’s further training/education at a Florida public college or career center.

If the most appropriate and efficient training/education for this particular injured employee can only be received from a public college or career center more than 50 miles from the employee’s residence, can only be obtained from a provider other than a public college or career center–or the nearby public college and career center can’t offer the appropriate courses in the near future–the Department must make every effort to accommodate the employee’s needs.

And, if the employee comes to attain “maximum medical improvement” and is still unable to earn at least 80% of their (previous) compensation rate, their employer–or the employer’s insurance company–must provide additional training and education temporary total compensation benefits during the time the employee takes advantage of this extra training/education, not to exceed 52 weeks. These 52 weeks may not be added to any education/training described in the previous paragraph.

These vocational rehabilitation rights–as summarized from Florida’s Workers’ Compensation statutes–are not as straightforward as they appear. Contact our workers’ compensation attorneys for expert guidance.