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Workers' Compensation vouchers and returning to work

When California workers are injured and have a permanent partial disability, they are frequently concerned about how the Workers' Compensation program will provide for them. Since those who have permanent partial disabilities can often do certain jobs but not others, there are times when they cannot get back to their old job. This is where vouchers are useful. Vouchers are part of supplemental job displacement benefits.

Once the worker's status has been changed from temporary disability to permanent partial disability, SJDB can be provided to pay for the person to receive educational retraining, skill enhancement or both. It will pay for tuition, fees, textbooks and expenses that are needed to complete the retraining. Up to 10 percent can be used for counseling. It ranges from $4,000 to $10,000, depending on the person's level of disability.

People often ask what will happen if the employer makes an offer of employment in a modified or alternative position. The worker should remember that they cannot receive the voucher if this happens and they can do the work. For people who were hurt from Jan. 1, 2004 to Dec. 12, 2012, the work must be doable by the worker; at a regular position and last for a minimum of 12 months; pay 85 percent of wages and compensation the worker was paid at the time of the injury; and be a reasonable distance for the person to commute from their residence at the time they were injured. If the injury happened after Jan. 1, 2013, the same conditions are in place.

The difference is that the offer from the employer must be sent within 30 days of the last temporary disability payment for those injured from Jan. 1, 2004 to Dec. 12, 2012. For those injured on or after Jan. 1, 2013, the work must be offered within 60 days after a claims administrator received a Physician's Return-to-Work and Voucher report and it meets the other requirements. The voucher is often a foundation for dispute between the worker and the insurer. There might be a disagreement about meeting the criteria or some other problem. For those who are dealing with the aftermath of being injured on the job or suffering an occupational disease and are concerned about the voucher, a workers' compensation attorney can help.

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