Workplace accidents and resulting injuries can be tragic and life-altering. These injuries not only affect the injured worker in a physical, emotional, financial and social way, but they also affect the injured workers’ family and loved ones. However, there is assistance available to help you cope with the effects of the injury and get your life back.
Incorporated into the Workers’ Compensation System is a mechanism to help injured workers obtain vocational rehabilitation and social services. You may be familiar with the responsibility the law places on insurance companies to compensate you for lost wages and cover medical expenses. However, most people are not aware that the law also provides a mechanism to assist injured workers to obtain vocational rehabilitation and social services in order to return to work. While it is not often mentioned in topics surrounding Workers’ Compensation, there is a Workers' Compensation Board Rehabilitation Unit.
This unit contains specialists in both Rehabilitation and Social Services who can assess and assist you with the numerous resources the State of New York has available in this regard.
In fact, the Workers’ Compensation Board’s website directly states:
Social Services – A unique service of the Workers' Compensation Board is provided by Social Workers. When a worker becomes disabled through an industrial accident or occupational disease, the impact can be devastating for the worker and the family. The combination of stresses, permanent disability and changed social, financial or personal roles can overwhelm the claimant. When these problems occur, Social Workers are available to discuss the changes that have occurred since the accident and explore possible solutions.
Rehabilitation and Return to Work Programs – Rehabilitation is a program offering special services designed to: eliminate the disability, if that is possible, or to reduce or alleviate the disability to the greatest degree possible; help an injured worker to return to work when possible; or to aid the person with a residual disability to live and work at his/her maximum capability. The Board's Rehabilitation staff includes Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, social workers, and claims examiners to coordinate and follow-up on medical and vocational rehabilitation services. Rehabilitation is voluntary except in limited circumstances, it is mandatory under WCL §15.3(v), i.e., 50% or greater scheduled loss of use. Injured workers should contact the Rehabilitation Unit at the nearest Board District Office for questions about rehabilitation or contact the Board at (877) 632-4996.
[Little known to many is the requirement of Insurance carriers to report injured workers lost time to the Rehabilitation Unit once that lost time exceeds 12 weeks. This is done through an “R form” available on the Boards Website, http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/forms/r.pdf]
In addition, and not so well publicized, is the availability of a stipend to assist rehabilitating injured workers. Section 15(9) of the WCL directs that in conjunction with the NYS Department of Education, injured workers participating in a rehabilitation program may receive additional compensation not to exceed $30.00 per week.
Should you or someone you know be in need of Vocational Rehabilitation or other services we urge you to contact the NYS Workers Compensation Board at 877-632-4996 or visit their website.
Additionally, services for education and rehabilitation may be available at:
- Adult career and Educational services (ACCES-VR)
- Your local BOCES
- CNY Works
- Your local career center
Contact a Workers' Compensation Lawyer for a Free Initial Consultation
At MCV Law we work to make sure all of your options, both legal and administrative, are at work to achieve the greatest benefit for you. We will make sure that you are fairly compensated for your accident and disability. We make sure that the legal remedies available through Workers’ Compensation, Social Security and any possible personal injury action are pursued to the fullest extent.
Please Contact Us to Explore Getting Your Life Back