Injured or Disabled? How Vocational Rehabilitation Programs Can Help
If you’re injured following an accident, you may not be able to work at full capacity. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t work at all. Vocational rehabilitation is a state-based and federally-funded service that gives injured or partially disabled individuals an alternative vocational path. This guide will outline the basics of vocational rehabilitation programs (VR programs), as well as the services that are included.
What Are Vocational Rehabilitation Services?
When an individual is injured, they may lose the capacity necessary to do their current job. However, their condition might not impede their ability to work completely. Vocational rehabilitation serves to open a new employment path based on the abilities that a person has retained. Specifically, the state government program helps individuals with disabilities find employment or educational programs that suit their qualifications. The employment programs and vocational training can allow the injured individual to earn a gainful income once again.
As an example, consider a nurse who has worked in the field for decades. If the nurse injures her back lifting a patient, she may not be able to complete her daily job functions. This is because her back injury prevents her from remaining on her feet for long stretches of time. So, a VocRehab program can provide training for that nurse to learn the skills necessary to work a more sedentary job. The nurse can then return to the workforce as an office worker or a similar professional.
What Services Are Included in Voc Rehab Programs?
When an individual qualifies for vocational rehabilitation, they can enjoy a variety of support services. However, since this is a state agency, the specifics of the program can vary by state. Some of the services included in vocational rehabilitation services are:
- Vocational training: If an injured person needs additional training to return to the workforce, the vocational rehabilitation program will pay for the training program. While this type of training generally doesn’t include enrollment at a college or university, it includes other types of skills training programs like apprenticeships, trade schools, and non-paid work experiences. These types of experiences serve to build job-seeking skills, later opening employment options.
- Employment services and career counseling: The vocational rehabilitation agency can provide job placement for the injured individual. This will include finding suitable employment and providing on-the-job training (OJT programs). The agency can also provide resources for self-employment, such as classes at a business school and equipment. Vocational counseling is a key part of determining what jobs are suitable for the injured individual and helping the individual reach their employment goals.
- Support services: VR programs can provide a variety of support services, such as interpreters for anyone who is deaf or reading services for anyone who is blind. The support may also include assistive technology.
- Medical care and rehabilitation planning: Some vocational rehabilitation applicants will qualify for free health care helping them heal from their injury. This care can include diagnostics, surgery, rehabilitation planning, rehab programs, prosthetics, and other medical services relating to the injury. Transportation to these supportive rehabilitation services and health care appointments may also be provided.
- Frequent assessment: Case management is a key part of the VR program. When undergoing the vocational rehabilitation program, individuals will receive frequent assessments of their disabilities. In some cases, the agency will come to the conclusion that the individual’s disabilities are actually too severe for them to return to the workforce.
Vocational rehabilitation counselors work closely with injured, or disabled, individuals to ensure that they’re receiving the best set of services for their needs.
What If Voc Rehab Isn’t a Suitable Option?
If the above assessment finds that the individual isn’t able to return to the workforce, this evidence may support a social security disability claim. While the point of vocational rehabilitation is to help people return to work, the conclusion that even VOC can prove a serious employment handicap. If the state has assessed conclusively that the individual isn’t able to work, they may strengthen a disability claim or disability rating.
Vocational Rehabilitation And Employment For Injured Veterans
While vocational rehabilitation programs are funded by the social security administration, injured and disabled veterans may qualify for these services among their VA benefits. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers vocational rehabilitation and employment (VR&E) for former military service members. You can learn more about VR&E programs for veterans at va.gov.
If you have questions about voc rehab or recently had your disability claim denied, contact the team at Hill & Ponton. Our knowledgeable attorneys focus on veterans and social security disability law and are available to guide you through your claim. Reach out today for a free case evaluation.