The injury you suffered at work prevents you from going back to your job. You want to work, but you can’t do the work that you used to do. You may feel frustrated and frightened. What will happen when your workers’ compensation benefits end? Will you ever work again?

Vocational Rehabilitation May Be an Option for You

After a work-related injury, you may be eligible for Iowa’s vocational rehabilitation program if you:

  • Have a permanent partial or permanent total disability for which workers’ compensation benefits are payable. However, if you suffer a shoulder injury and no other qualifying injury, you may not qualify for vocational rehabilitation. Instead, you may qualify for a vocational training and education program.
  • Are unable to return to gainful employment because of your disability.

Vocational rehabilitation services can help you get and maintain a job. Additionally, you may receive an extra $100 a week, in addition to your other workers’ comp benefits, while you participate in an approved vocational rehabilitation program. The extra $100 that accompanies vocational rehabilitation may continue for up to 13 weeks.

How Vocational Rehabilitation Works in Iowa

You can take the first step in the vocational rehabilitation process by contacting one of the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services offices close to where you live. The offices are located throughout the state and include locations in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Des Moines.

After you call or complete a vocational rehabilitation application, a counselor will review your application and determine your eligibility within 60 days, unless you agree to an extended eligibility determination deadline.

Once your application for vocational rehabilitation benefits is approved, you and your counselor will work together to identify your employment goals, what you need to achieve those goals, and who will provide you with the services to achieve your goals.

An individualized plan for employment (IPE) will be developed to reflect your employment goals and the necessary steps to achieve them. IPEs may include things like job counseling and referrals for mental health, physical therapy or other treatment, education, or training.

Some of the referrals may include things like apprenticeships, remedial literacy training, on-the-job training, or supported employment. Additionally, your counselor may work with you on job-seeking skills, identify the need for rehabilitation technology or on-the-job supports, or help you work toward a goal of self-employment.

After you get a job, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services staff may follow up with you for 90 days to make sure your job is stable and that no further vocational rehabilitation services are necessary.

Protect Your Full Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Vocational rehabilitation may be just one of your workers’ compensation benefits. If you’ve been hurt at work and you are eligible for workers’ compensation, then you may also receive:

  • Medical benefits. The workers’ compensation insurance company will pay many of your healthcare costs directly to your providers. These costs should include the costs of your appointments, medical procedures, and medications. However, some other costs, such as transportation to and from your appointments or meals or lodging that you need because of your appointments may be paid to you.
  • Weekly wage benefits. The amount of your weekly workers’ compensation benefits depends on your average weekly earnings before you were hurt and your work-related disability. Different benefits are possible depending on whether you suffered a permanent total disability, permanent partial disability, temporary total disability, or temporary partial disability.

Right now, everything seems uncertain because of your work-related injury. You don’t know what the future holds, but you deserve every applicable workers’ compensation benefit that Iowa law allows. Vocational rehabilitation may be an essential part of your recovery.

Our experienced Iowa workers’ compensation lawyers will identify all possible workers’ compensation benefits and help you prepare for your future. We encourage you to take the first step today by contacting us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation in our Cedar Rapids, Davenport, or Des Moines law office, in your home or hospital room, or by phone or video conference.

 

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham