When you suffer a work-related injury that leaves you permanently disabled, your employer can offer alternative or modified work when you return. Of course, the physician treating you must first declare that you’re able to work before returning.
However, specific disabilities can limit your ability to perform work, even if a physician declares you fit. If this happens, your employer might find it hard to assign you a new job, even if it’s less demanding than your pre-injury work. And if this goes unaddressed, you could be out of a job.
What can you do in this situation?
Fortunately, California has provisions for supplemental job displacement benefits, which can help you retrain or enhance your other skills despite your disability and even find a new job.
What is a supplemental job displacement benefit?
The supplemental job displacement benefit is a voucher that can pay for your educational retraining or skill enhancement with an eligible school. It’s redeemable for up to $6,000 and can cover retraining costs and computer equipment. It can also be used to pay for the services of a licensed placement agency or a vocational counselor.
Claiming the benefit
To obtain supplemental job displacement benefits, you must meet two criteria.
The first is that your injuries must’ve led to permanent partial disability.
Once your medical condition shows no improvement or worsening, a physician will prepare a report to submit to the claims administrator. This report describes your specific medical conditions, any medication you will need in the future, any bodily limits you may have and how those physical restrictions affect the work you can do. The report also assigns you a rating between 1% and 100% based on factors such as your current condition and how much of your disability was caused by your job. If you have a 100% rating, you have a permanent total disability. Any lower than 100% and you have a permanent partial disability.
The second is that your employer should be unable to give you any regular, modified or alternative work within 60 days after the claims administrator receives the report from the physician.
The claims administrator can offer supplemental job displacement benefits if you fulfill these requirements.
While the claims administrator must offer you this benefit if your employer can’t give you work, it could try to dispute your treating physician’s medical report. Likewise, you might disagree with your physician’s report if they think you’re not disabled enough to receive benefits. If this happens, consider approaching a legal professional who can talk to the claims administrator about finding an agreed medical evaluator that can reassess your medical condition.