If you are unable to work in your old position due to injuries you sustained through a workplace accident, you may be assigned a vocational rehabilitation counselor who will help you find a new job. Although these counselors are supposed to act in the best interests of their clients, sometimes they work with the workers' comp insurance provider (or employers) to sabotage the employees seeking assistance. Here are two things your counselor may do to hurt your case and how you can deal with them.
Purposefully Offering Inappropriate Jobs
Vocational counselors are supposed to locate employment that fits your education, experience, and abilities. A counselor who is out to provide workers' comp or your employer a reason to cut your benefits may recommend jobs that aren't appropriate for your particular situation. For instance, if you suffered damage to your back where you cannot lift more 25 pounds, the vocational counselor may offer you jobs where you are required to lift 50 pounds or more on a regular basis.
This is problematic for a number of reasons, but the biggest issue the vocational counselor may tell workers' comp or your employer you are refusing to work or cooperate if you continuously turn down jobs. This can lead to the insurance company or your boss stopping the payments for your lost wages and other benefits.
There are a couple of ways you can handle this issue. First, ensure the vocational counselor has a copy of your medical restrictions. This way, the counselor can't claim to not have known about your disabilities. Second, make copies of the job descriptions of any employment opportunities offered to you by the counselor or have the hiring manager at the company write down the requirements of the position. This can help you prove the jobs are not appropriate for you, which may let you avoid having your benefits terminated.
Your Skill Qualify You for a Non-Existent Job
Another trick you may be subjected to is the vocational counselor may perform a transferable skills analysis. This is a legitimate evaluation that helps the counselor determine what your skills are and how they may translate into a different job position. However, an unethical vocational counselor may claim your skills can get into a job position that doesn't actually exist, and one that conveniently lets workers' comp or your employer end your wage loss benefits.
One way to handle this issue is to force the vocational counselor to show you jobs at real companies that match the position he or she says you qualify for. If the person isn't able to do that, then you'll want to document the incident and include any physical evidence you can get your hands on (e.g. the evaluation document).
For more information about this issue or help dealing with an unethical vocational rehab counselor, contact a workers' compensation attorney firm, such as Oxner + Permar, LLC.
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