It is rare that a Claimant will be “totally disabled” within the meaning of the Workers’ Compensation [“WC”] Law for a lengthy period. If there is medical evidence that you are NOT totally disabled, or if you are being paid at the “less than total” medical rate for lost income benefits, you have a legal obligation to look for work (aka being “attached” to the labor market). As the success of your WC claim can depend on whether you are actively looking for work, this document will outline your responsibilities.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

If you are NOT totally disabled, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance [“UI”] benefits. If you intend to or have applied for Social Security Disability benefits, speak with us BEFORE you file for UI benefits. You can apply for UI benefits by phone toll-free at 1-888-209-8124 or online at http://www.labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm

You must look for work to be eligible for UI benefits. Receiving UI is not enough alone to be attached to the labor market. If you collect UI and actively work with New York State Department of Labor’s One-Stop Career Centers, however, you most likely will meet your obligation to be attached to the labor market. To actively work with them, you must: (1) call for an appointment; (2) attend an orientation session: (3) meet with a One-Stop counselor to develop a resume; (4) register the resume in the One-Stop system; (5) follow up to see if there are any job matches; and (6) follow up on job referrals and job matches.

Vocational Rehabilitation

If it appears that you are NO longer able to perform the work that you have performed during your life, vocational rehabilitation may be appropriate for you. A state agency (ACCES-VR) can help you get the skills that you need to earn competitive employment in a different field.

To learn more about ACCES-VR generally, visit http://www.acces.nysed.gov/vr For information about the Rochester office of ACCES-VR, visit http://www.acces.nysed.gov/vr/rochester-district-office

Claiming that you are working with ACCES-VR alone is not enough to be attached to the labor market. You must show ACTIVE participation and documents that prove it. The same applies for rehabilitation services provided through the WC carrier or the WC Board. You are NOT required to work with the services offered by the WC carrier. If you do, however, you must show ACTIVE participation with documents that prove it. The WC Board has held that attending school full time for retraining purposes is an attachment to the labor market.

The New York State WC Board now has a vocational rehabilitation counselor and licensed social worker available to assist with retraining and job placement efforts as well. Please contact us if you would like a referral to either provider.

Looking for Work

The WC law looks at whether you can do ANY job, not just the job you held at the time you were injured. Thus, to continue receiving WC benefits, you must look for work within your restrictions.

You need to start by having a clear understanding of the restrictions set by your doctor. If not done already, ask your doctor to put the restrictions in writing. Then you must conduct a reasonable job search within your restrictions. The Judge ultimately decides whether your job search was reasonable. While there is no specific definition of a reasonable job search, we recommend that you take the following actions and BE ABLE TO PROVE that you did so:

Actively search for a job (e.g., send out resumes, interview, etc.). It is NOT enough to simply look in the newspaper or “put the word out” to family and friends

Submit applications anywhere you see a “help wanted” sign

Attend job fairs.

Apply to temporary employment agencies. The more, the better.

Keep a written, specific, chronological record of every attempt you make to find a job. Include phone calls you made and sources you checked. Keep track of where you apply and follow up weekly, either by phone or in person. Note the date, the person you speak to, and what they say to you. The most thorough job search in the world will not help you if you cannot prove that you undertook the search.

The WC Board has prepared 2 forms (C-258 & C-258.1) for you to record your job search efforts. The C-258 form is used to document all job search efforts including vocational rehabilitation, participation with job-location services and full-time schooling. The C-258.1 form is for independent job searches. These forms can be found at http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/forms/c258.pdf and http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/forms/c258-1.pdf respectively.

If you cannot prove that you actively searched for work, the insurance company can argue that you have withdrawn from the labor market and STOP PAYING YOU. To prevent this, we strongly recommend participating in vocational rehabilitation and/or job placements services. These activities tend to hold more weight than an independent job search alone.

If performed, an independent job search should provide documentary evidence of the day, month and year of contact, name and address of the employer, name and telephone number of the person with whom potential employment was discussed, type of job sought and potential employer’s response. If applicable, you should also supply a copy of the resume submitted, any inquiry letters or e-mail communications, and confirmation e-mails or reference numbers (if submitted online).

On November 1, 2011, Governor Cuomo announced the launch of “Jobs Express,” a new website designed to help New Yorkers who are seeking employment. The Jobs Express website makes it easier to learn about what jobs are available in the state and to know where to find them. The site takes over 42,000 job openings and sorts them by region to help job seekers evaluate what industries are growing in their area and find out what opportunities are available in specific companies. The site can be found at http://www.labor.ny.gov/jobs/regional.shtm

Also we highly recommend you register and create an account with the New York State Department of Labor “JobZone” at http://www.jobzone.ny.gov/ This is a free on-line resource offered by the Department of Labor which offers resume and letter writing, career exploration, job fair information, job openings in your area, training resources in your area, skill surveys and workshops and on-line record to keep track of your work search activities.

Here is contact information for retraining programs and staffing agencies:

The carrier likely will ask for your testimony on your search. Thus, it is very important to be as thorough as possible.

Labor Market Attachment and Permanency

The law has changed recently. Injured workers who are attached to the labor market at the time they are deemed to have a permanent disability do not need to provide ongoing proof of attachment. Although this is helpful for injured workers, we expect that WC carriers will litigate labor market attachment more aggressively before permanency. If the Board determines you are NOT attached at the time of permanency, you WILL have to provide an ongoing job search if you want lost wage benefits to resume.

Thus, it is extremely important you are attached to the labor market at the time of permanency. Failure to do so may jeopardize your chance to collect lost income benefits after permanency has been determined.

What Should I Do if I Find a Job?

You must immediately notify our office when you go back to work and we will notify all relevant parties. This is true no matter how much your new job pays. You must also tell us if you are working for yourself. If you fail to notify us of this work activity, the Judge can view it as an attempt to fraudulently collect benefits. Insurance fraud is a crime with civil and criminal penalties (i.e., fines, imprisonment, etc.).

Please contact us if you have any questions about your duty to look for work.

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