Research has shown that injured workers who get back into the workforce as soon as they are medically able to recover faster and suffer less wage loss than those who don’t.
The decision about when to return, however, is influenced by your doctor, employer, and claims administrator. If your doctor says you cannot work, then you cannot be required to work. But your doctor may say that you can go back to work with limitations or restrictions – in order to prevent further injury while you recover.
If this is the case, the treating doctor will describe the following in his report to the claims administrator.
Doctor descriptions of limitations when returning to work
- Clear and specific limits on your job tasks while you recover
- Changes needed in your schedule, assignments, equipment or working conditions while you recover
Once the claims administrator receives the Physician’s Return-to-Work and Voucher form, your employer has 60 days to offer you work that meets these restrictions.
Work offered by your employer when returning from injury may include
- Regular work – your job before you were injured
- Modified work – your old job, modified to meet the restrictions
- Alternative work – a new job with your employer
Requirements of work offered by an employer after injury
- Meet the restrictions set by the doctor
- Extend for at least 12 months
- Have a pay rate of at least 85% of what you made at the time of injury (or, if it’s your old job, a pay rate of 100% of what you made at the time of injury)
- Be located within a reasonable commuting distance of where you lived at the time of injury
If your employer offers you work, you may have only 30 days to accept the offer. If you reject the offer or do not respond within 30 days, you may lose your eligibility for supplemental job displacement benefits (see below).
What happens if my employer doesn't offer me work after an injury?
Your permanent disability benefits will not change.*
You may qualify for supplemental job displacement benefits (SJDB). This benefit provides you with a voucher that you can use at state-accredited or state-approved schools. You must receive this voucher within 20 calendar days of the expiration time for the offer of work from your employer.
Some specifics about the supplemental job displacement benefits voucher
Amount is $6000 for all levels of permanent disability*
It can be used for:
- Educational retraining and/or skill enhancement
- Licensing or certification and testing fees
- The purchase of tools required by courses
- The purchase of computer equipment (up to $1000)
- The services of a licensed placing agency or vocational counselor (up to $600)
- Miscellaneous expenses up to $500 (reimbursement)
*Applicable for those injured after January 1, 2013. For dates prior, give us a call.
Need help recovering from a workplace injury in San Diego, California?
Attorneys Gerald Brody and Matthew Russell can help you navigate the confusing (and paperwork laden) workers’ compensation system. They have years of experience, and they get results for their clients.