TEN STEPS TO ENSURE THAT THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PLAN IS VIABLE.
One of the benefits available to injured workers in Nevada is vocational rehabilitation. This benefit comes into play when an injured worker is unable to return to the pre-injury job due to the industrial, permanent physical restrictions and the employer is unable to provide a permanent light duty job within those restrictions. It is important to note, when evaluating a vocational program, that the primary obligation of a vocational rehabilitation counselor is to the injured employee. NRS 616C.547.
In Nevada, if the injured worker does not have “existing marketable skills,” the plan must consist of a program which trains or educates the injured employee and provides job placement assistance. The counselor is required to develop a plan for a program of vocational rehabilitation. The counselor is required to work with the insurer and the injured employee to develop a program that is compatible with the injured employee’s age, sex and physical condition. NRS 616C.555.
Under NRS 616C.585, a plan may include formal education only if:
(a) The priorities set forth in NRS 616C.530 for returning an injured employee to work are followed;
(b) The education is recommended by a plan for a program of vocational rehabilitation developed pursuant to NRS 616C.555; and
(c) A written proposal concerning the probable economic benefits to the employee and the necessity of the education is submitted to the insurer.
In order to evaluate whether the proposed plan is viable, you need to look at the following:
1. Review the DOT description for the vocational goal.
2. Confirm that the training meets the SVP range for the vocational goal.
3. Review the resources used by the vocational counselor.
4. Review the example jobs in the labor market analysis.
5. Confirm that the projected growth for the vocational goal in Nevada is positive.
6. Confirm that the GOE code of the vocational goal matches with the counselor’s injured worker’s interest analysis.
7. Does the strength rating for the vocational goal exceed the injured worker’s physical limitations?
8. Does the GED classifications for the vocational goal exceed the injured worker’s educational background?
9. Evaluate the plan to confirm that the skills learned will result in legitimate marketable skills which will lead to securing employment.
10. Make sure that the treating provider is aware of any concerns you or your client have regarding the physical requirements of the vocational goal or the training itself.
A vocational program cannot commence before the treating physician or chiropractor, or an examining physician or chiropractor determines that the injured employee is capable of safely participating in the program. NRS 616C.555(6).
These 10 steps should always be evaluated. They can be confusing, thus, if you are in this position, I strongly urge you to seek legal counsel to help you through the process. You can reach me at my office at 775-323-5200 to schedule an appointment to discuss your workers’ compensation issues.