The California workers’ compensation system settles the medical bills for work-related injuries and illnesses. If your injury causes temporary disability, the program pays a portion of lost wages after three to seven days. However, if your on-the-job injury or illness causes an impairment or disability with lasting consequences, wage replacement for permanent total or permanent partial disability will form part of your benefits.

Current workers’ compensation laws require employers to accommodate workers with permanent disabilities by offering alternative or modified duties. However, if that is not possible, you might receive a supplemental job displacement benefit (SJDB) to provide the means to learn new skills that will enable you to return to work.

How will the SJDB help you?

You receive a $6,000 voucher that you can use to prepare you for a new career. You may use it in the following ways:

  • The SJDB voucher can pay for vocational training at any public school in California or any other learning institute that is on the state’s list of eligible training providers.
  • You can use it to cover the costs of certification, testing and licensing.
  • You can pay for any tools that you need to purchase for the training course.
  • If the program requires you to buy computer equipment, you can use up to $1,000 for that purpose.
  • It will also cover miscellaneous expenses up to $500.
  • Once training is complete, you may use up to $600 for a vocational counselor or an agency that handles job placements.

The voucher is non-transferable, and the level of your permanent disability will not affect the value of $6,000.

When will you receive the SJDB?

If your disability followed an injury or occupational illness that did not occur before Jan. 1, 2013, your employer has 20 calendar days to offer you regular employment, or alternative or modified duties. If your boss makes such an offer, it must be for a position that will last for no less than 12 months, and the wage level must be at least 85 % of the wage you earned when you were injured.

When does the voucher expire?

Your SJDB voucher will remain valid for five years after the date of your injury, or two years from the issue date — whichever comes later. You cannot exchange the voucher for cash.

If a workplace injury or illness left you permanently disabled, your ability to care for your family might depend on the benefits you receive through the workers’ compensation program. Your chances of receiving the maximum level of benefits without delay will increase if you secure the services of an attorney who is familiar with all the applicable California laws.