Along with payment of medical bills, time off of work, and permanent injury benefits, Nebraska laws include a unique workers’ compensation benefit: vocational rehabilitation.
To understand how the vocational rehabilitation benefit works in Nebraska, one must understand that the primary purpose of workers’ compensation is to restore an injured worker to gainful employment.
In order to accomplish that purpose, the workers’ compensation laws provide guidance of the following priorities:
- Return to the previous job with the same employer;
- Modification of the previous job with the same employer;
- A new job with the same employer;
- A job with a new employer; or
- A period of formal training that is designed to lead to employment in another career field.
The goal of “gainful employment” is to get the employee back to making equal or similar wages to what he or she was making at the time of the injury. As a result, sometimes an injured worker’s permanent restrictions (resulting from the work injury) are such that he or she cannot return to work in the previous job. Further, the employer may not be able to modify or give him or her a new job within those restrictions.
Thus, if the goal of “gainful employment” cannot be accomplished by numbers one through three above, a vocational-rehabilitation specialist may be appointed in order to provide vocational-rehabilitation services such as job placement, training, or even further education. The expenses of the aforementioned are covered by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund. During the time the injured worker is undergoing job placement, training, or education, he or she is entitled to temporary-disability benefits from the employer. This is a wonderful benefit, and some of our clients have even been able to go to college for a two-year or even four-year degree in order to return to the workforce and make similar or more money than they were making at the time of the accident and injury.
Today’s blog post is a part of a continuing series that explores the basics of workers’ compensation. Please read the previous blog posts in the series by clicking on these links, and be sure to consult an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer with questions:
- What is Workers’ Compensation?
- Workers’ Compensation Basics: Are You an Employee?
- Workers’ Compensation Basics: What is a Workers’ Compensation Accident?
- Workers’ Compensation Basics: Provide Notice of Injury
- Workers’ Compensation Basics: Understanding Medical Care and Treatment
- Workers’ Compensation Basics: Choosing a Physician
- Workers’ Compensation Basics: Understanding the Injured Worker’s Right to Medical Care
- Workers’ Compensation Basics: Understanding Social Security Disability Offsets
- Workers’ Compensation Basics: Payments to Workers and their Families
- Workers’ Compensation Basics: Emotional, Psychological Injuries in Nebraska