Vocational Rehabilitation and Your Legal Cases
Vocational rehabilitation encompasses training, education, and other assistance to individuals who cannot perform their usual job duties because of an illness or injury. It can play a key role in Workers’
Compensation (“WC”), personal injury, Social Security Disability (“SSD”), and long-term disability (“LTD”) cases.
Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (“ACCES-VR”) is a government agency that provides vocational rehabilitation services. They help determine whether there is new work that you may be able to perform considering your age, education, work history, skills, physical/mental limitations, and interests.
They can help you get more education or training so that you are a better candidate for new work. Their services are free. You can visit this website for more information.
ACCES-VR has locations across New York State. The phone number for the Rochester District Office is (585) 238-2900. They serve residents of Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, and Yates counties.
If you are not 100% disabled in your WC case, you have an ongoing obligation to look for work within your physical/mental restrictions to collect lost wage benefits. This concept is called attachment to the labor market. If your restrictions prevent you from doing your job, you must still look for other work.
Active participation in vocational rehabilitation at ACCES-VR—along with the documents to prove it and a job search—can help demonstrate that you are attached to the labor market. Doing so should enable you to collect ongoing lost wage benefits in your WC claim.
If you are permanently unable to perform the work that you have done during your lifetime, vocational rehabilitation may help you find a new job in a different field within your interests.
The New York State WC Board has a vocational rehabilitation counselor and licensed social worker available to assist with retraining and job placement efforts. Please contact us if you would like a referral to either provider.
In most personal injury lawsuits, a significant element of damage is what the individual would have earned if he or she had not been injured. To calculate this element of damage, we consider a variety of factors including our client’s work history, how his or her wages and benefits have grown over time, and how long he or she expected to work into the future.
Fortunately, most of our clients can earn at least some money by working. That amount gets deducted from what he or she would have earned if he or she had not been injured. This measure of damages is called net wages lost (past and future).
A vocational rehabilitation assessment can help determine how your overall functional capacity affects your ability to work. A vocational expert will offer opinions regarding your transferrable job skills, what accommodations you may need in a job setting, how much you might earn, and whether there are viable opportunities for you in the local job market.
Social Security Disability
Engaging with ACCES-VR is always positive in an SSD case. If they help you get more education or training that leads to new employment, this is better than collecting SSD. Depending on when you start this new work, your SSD case still may be viable. If ACCES-VR cannot find suitable work for you, a Social Security Judge is more likely to approve your SSD application.
SSD recipients can work and earn below a certain threshold without impacting their benefits depending on whether this occurs within the first year of becoming disabled or after one year of being disabled. As such, working with ACCES-VR to secure part-time employment may prove financially sound, so that you can collect SSD benefits and job earnings.
If the LTD carrier denies your claim because they determine that you can do your job or other jobs in the national economy, a vocational rehabilitation assessment can help your appeal. You can hire a vocational expert to review a description of your prior job and the work restrictions that your treating medical providers have imposed on you. The vocational expert can provide a valuable opinion about your inability to do your job or any other job given your age, education, and work experience.
Please contact us if you have any questions about the issues discussed above.