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Vocational rehabilitation
Specialized programs to help an eligible injured worker maintain employment or return to work

BWC offers a continuum of specialized vocational programs and services to help eligible injured workers safely maintain their employment or return to work. Vocational rehabilitation programs are voluntary and individually tailored to the injured worker and their work environment.

 

Vocational rehabilitation programs

Remain at work

This program keeps injured workers on the job.  The program is for injured workers released to modified or light duty who remained on the job or returned to work, but are experiencing difficulties and are in jeopardy of going off work.

The physician, employer and injured worker work together to identify the specific difficulties the injured worker is experiencing on the job.  They work with the managed care organization (MCO) and a vocational rehabilitation case manager, if needed, to identify and approve vocational services.

Remain at work services include, but are not limited to:

  • Ergonomic study
  • Gradual return to work
  • Job analysis
  • Job modification
  • On-the-job training
  • Physical or occupational therapy offered at the work site
  • Tools and equipment
  • Transitional work
  • Vocational rehabilitation case management

For additional information view the Remain at Work fact sheet

Job retention

This program keeps injured workers experiencing difficulties on the job who returned to work on modified duty after a period of lost-time (eight or more days off work) for which they received temporary total compensation or salary continuation.

Specific difficulties the injured worker is experiencing on the job are identified by the physician, employer and injured worker. They work with a vocational rehabilitation case manager and managed care organization (MCO) and BWC to identify and approve vocational interventions.

Job retention services include those available in remain at work and:

  • Employer incentive contracts
  • Physical restoration services
    • Occupational rehabilitation – comprehensive (work hardening)
    • Work conditioning
    • Active physical or occupational therapy
  • Training
  • Other services as needed

Return to work

Return to work programs (often referred to as vocational rehabilitation or voc rehab) help eligible injured workers who are not working because of their injuries to return to work.

Vocational rehabilitation focuses on returning the injured worker to the original employer.  If that is not possible, rehabilitation services can help the injured worker identify skills and abilities to secure a new job with another employer. The goal is to help restore the injured worker to the level of work and earnings they had prior to their injury.

Return to work services are coordinated by a vocational rehabilitation case manager working with the MCO and BWC.  The services may include but are not limited to:

  • Vocational rehabilitation case management
  • Assessments
  • Career counseling
  • Ergonomic study
  • Employer incentive contracts
  • Gradual return to work
  • Job analysis
  • Job modification
  • On-the-job training
  • Physical restoration services
    • Occupational rehabilitation – comprehensive (work hardening)
    • Work conditioning
    • Active physical or occupational therapy
  • Transitional work and on-site therapy
  • Re-employment services
    • Job Seeking Skills Training
    • Job placement and development
  • Training
  • Other services as needed to support return to work

 

When to request services

These programs and services are best used at the earliest point that a vocational need is identified. They help the injured worker and employer maintain or restore the injured worker to the job. A referral is made as soon as it is known that the injured worker:

  • Needs specialized assistance to maintain the job or return to work;
  • Is eligible; 
  • Is able and willing to participate in services.

 

How to request a referral

Workers - Contact your MCO or BWC claims service specialist.

Employers - Contact your MCO.

Providers – Submit:

 

Working with a vocational rehabilitation case manager

When an injured worker is eligible to receive vocational services and is willing and able to participate in a vocational rehabilitation program, a vocational rehabilitation case manager is selected. Like other providers, the injured worker chooses the vocational rehabilitation case manager with assistance from their MCO. 

The vocational rehabilitation case manager helps assess the injured worker’s current vocational needs by meeting with the  worker, employer and medical providers.  After completing the needed assessments, the case manager makes recommendations for services to the MCO and BWC for approval. 

In addition, the vocational rehabilitation case manager prepares the needed vocational rehabilitation plans, helps arrange any needed services and follows up on the injured worker’s progress.

 

Partnerships and joint service planning

  • Ohio Means Jobs
    • When an injured worker receives re-employment services in a vocational rehabilitation plan, the worker living in Ohio must enroll with Ohio Means Jobs to access re-employment services offered to help in securing employment.  The Ohio Means Jobs website offers a variety of tools and resources to help the injured worker in their job search.
    • For additional information view the BWC/Ohio Means Jobs Program fact sheet
  • Opportunities of Ohioans with Disabilities
    • In some claims, an injured worker receives vocational services from Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (State of Ohio agency) and BWC. 
    • When this occurs, vocational services can be coordinated with both agencies to help the injured worker in returning to work.
  • Compensation related to vocational rehabilitation
    • Living Maintenance (LM) – Compensation paid to an injured worker who is actively participating in an MCO-approved vocational rehabilitation assessment plan or comprehensive vocational rehabilitation plan. 
    • Living Maintenance Wage Loss (LMWL) –May be paid to an injured worker who completed a comprehensive vocational rehabilitation plan or a job retention plan, continues to have restrictions and experiences a wage loss upon returning to work.