Rehabilitation and Social Work Benefits
Rehabilitation is a program offering special services designed to:
- eliminate the disability, if that is possible, or to
- reduce or alleviate the disability to the greatest degree possible
- help an injured worker to return to work when possible
- aid the person with a residual disability to live and work at his/her maximum capability.
- In general, workers with a permanent total disability or those undergoing diagnostic testing are not eligible for the program.
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board’s Rehabilitation staff includes counselors, social workers, a consultant physiatrist and claims examiners to coordinate and follow-up on medical and vocational rehabilitation services. Rehabilitation is voluntary except in limited circumstances. Injured workers should contact the rehabilitation unit at the Board to determine if they are required to participate.
There are four general types of services offered:
- Vocational Rehabilitation programs are for those who, because of their work-related disability, cannot return to their former jobs. These services may provide guidance to help
- the claimant determine the best way to return to work.
- Selective Placement programs for those claimants who are left with a permanent work-related disability, and who need a job that will fit their abilities.
- Medical Rehabilitation programs include exercise and muscle conditioning, under the supervision of a physician, to restore a person to maximum usefulness. Only a physician
- may recommend a medical rehabilitation program.
- Social Services provides a staff of social workers to assist an injured worker with a family or financial problem that is interfering with the rehabilitation.
Claimants who are participating in one of the rehabilitation programs continue to receive cash benefits based on the extent of the workplace disability. Claimants who return to work but cannot earn the same wages because of an injury may be entitled to compensation benefits at a reduced rate.
NOTE: Do not confuse the Workers’ Compensation Board’s Vocational Rehabilitation Department with your employer’s insurance company’s rehabilitation personnel. The insurance company’s rehabilitation personnel are really claims managers who have a totally different purpose.