Vocational rehabilitation under Maryland Workers’ Compensation law
Maryland law has detailed provisions for vocational rehabilitation for injured or ill workers in certain situations.
Vocational rehabilitation services are available under Maryland Workers’ Compensation law to a disabled employee who cannot return to the kind of work for which he or she was “previously qualified.” The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission, the state agency that administers the Workers’ Compensation program, must refer the worker to a registered public or private vocational rehabilitation provider for assessment and recommendations, if appropriate, toward the goal of returning the employee to “suitable gainful employment.”
Suitable gainful employment is that which would as much as possible provide the disabled worker to the same “level of support” he or she received before disability began.
To assess whether suitable gainful employment exists for a disabled worker, the provider must consider and analyze:
- The person’s “qualifications, interests, incentives, earnings” as they were before disability
- The person’s “economic, educational, legal, medical, social, and vocational circumstances”
- Future earning capacity
- Physical and mental abilities, including limitations caused by the disability
- The labor market now and in the future
The vocational rehabilitation provider’s recommended services can include medical-service coordination, testing, vocational counseling, vocational rehabilitation planning and monitoring, retraining, job development and placement.
Vocational rehabilitation plan
After assessing the worker’s potential for vocation rehabilitation, the provider submits a vocational rehabilitation plan to the Commission, which provides the plan to the employee and employer and its insurer. They may agree that it is appropriate or either party can request within 15 days a hearing on the plan. The Commission is the decision maker and either accepts or rejects the plan, in whole or part, and issues an order accordingly.
During the time the worker receives rehabilitation services, he or she would also be eligible to receive money benefits equal to what he or she would receive for a temporary total disability, a percentage of average weekly wage. In addition, the employer or its insurer pays the costs of the assessment and vocational rehabilitation services as part of the valid Workers’ Compensation claim.
Anyone in Maryland with questions about vocational rehabilitation services that may allow reentry to work for a Workers’ Compensation recipient, who may not have been referred for assessment or who must decide whether to challenge a proposed plan at a hearing should speak immediately with an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer for advice and representation.
The attorneys at Cohen, Snyder, Eisenberg & Katzenberg, P.A., with six Maryland offices, represent employees across Maryland with work-related injuries or occupational diseases in their quest for Workers’ Compensation benefits, including vocational rehabilitation when appropriate.