Labor and Economic Opportunity
Under Section 319 of the Michigan Worker’s Disability Compensation Act, injured employees are entitled to vocational rehabilitation services if they are unable to perform the work for which they have previous training or experience. Vocational rehabilitation can include a variety of professional services designed to help injured workers re-enter the workforce. These services may include job placement assistance, retraining support, or guidance in starting your own business. Vocational rehabilitation services are paid for by the employer/insurance carrier, so in most cases you must have an open, active workers’ compensation claim to receive rehabilitation benefits. Referrals to qualified and agency-approved vocational rehabilitation providers should be made as early in the recovery process as possible to ensure the most positive return-to-work outcomes.
Upon opening of each new rehabilitation case, it is expected that vocational rehabilitation practitioners will provide to each injured worker an explanation of his/her rights and responsibilities under the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act, including:
Agency Publication WC-PUB-001: “Rights and Responsibilities Under Michigan Workers’ Compensation.”
Agency Publication WC-PUB-003: “Vocational Rehabilitation for Injured Employees.”
Form WC-500: “Vocational Rehabilitation Provider Professional Disclosure Statement.”
Regardless of the source of the case referral, rehabilitation counselors will provide an unbiased, objective, comprehensive vocational evaluation and assessment of rehabilitation needs (see Policy Guidelines for Vocational Rehabilitation Assessment, Evaluation, and Plan). This evaluation/assessment shall include a direct, face-to-face interview with the injured worker.
A “3-Step Process” should be utilized in the development of each vocational rehabilitation program, specifically exploring:
Return to work with the former employer, either to the same job or a modified job which is within the employee's capabilities to perform.
Direct job-placement to appropriate alternative employment in the community and/or short-term retraining.
PLEASE NOTE : Although these steps in the process are numbered, there is no absolute order of application or requirement that each step be implemented in order to progress to the next one. Each case presents its own unique characteristics, so the counselor and client should apply these steps based on need and potential for successful completion of the Individualized Written Rehabilitation Plan (IWRP), the ultimate goal being return to work.
The following steps ARE recommended when providing vocational rehabilitation services:
Maintain Agency Approved Provider status.
Adhere to your written Code of Ethics and stay within your scope of practice.
Adhere to the 3-Step Process described above.
Provide unbiased, comprehensive evaluations of vocational rehabilitation need/feasibility, including a direct, face-to-face interview with the injured worker, and review of all available medical and diagnostic information.
Actively involve the client as a participant in the drafting and ongoing review of the IWRP.
Review and discuss the Professional Disclosure Form WC-500 with the client.
Act as a liaison between all involved parties, updating on progress, potential barriers or concerns, and goal attainment throughout the vocational rehabilitation process.
The following steps are NOT recommended when providing vocational rehabilitation services:
Initiate cost services prior to obtaining carrier authorization.
Modify or alter reports or actions at the urging of any involved party if implementing such a change or action would be contrary to the counselor’s evaluation, assessment, recommendations, or IWRP (i.e. the change creates an ethical violation).
Interfere with due process between employee and employer.
Provide legal advice or recommend attorneys to clients.
Complete Form 104A, Application for Mediation or Hearing, for clients.
"Negotiate" or recommend redemption/settlement amounts to clients.
Overlook the application of the "3-Step process” when developing and updating rehabilitation plans.
Neglect to attempt appropriate job placement whenever possible.
Offer subjective opinions in reports.
Engage in claims investigative or adversarial activities.
For further information, contact the Workers’ Compensation Agency, Vocational Rehabilitation Division, P.O. Box 30016, Lansing, MI 48909. Telephone 517-284-8891, or (888) 396-5041.