To state the obvious, some jobs are more physically demanding than others and some injuries, like those resulting from a construction accident, more serious than others. What happens if your carpal tunnel syndrome or reflex sympathetic dystrophy prevents you from returning to your job as a physical therapist; your torn meniscus or broken ankle means you can no longer drive a semi; or the ruptured disc in your back or neck prohibits you from walking the steel, plumbing or building houses? What if the depression or anxiety you developed because of your physical injuries make it impossible to perform the work you once enjoyed?
The answer varies depending upon whether the injuries are work prohibitive. For permanent total disability resulting from a work injury, compensation is available under a workers’ compensation claim and can be paid for the rest of your life.
For other injuries that result in permanent disability that prohibits a return to the former position of employment, vocational rehabilitation and retraining are available. Voc rehab services can be requested by you, by your doctor or by your attorney. It may even be recommended by your Managed Care Organization. Such services generally try first to assist in returning you to some work within your restrictions with your employer.
If no such work is available, the next focus is assistance obtaining work with another employer. Sometimes the rehab services are merely job search assistance but work conditioning, retraining and even payment for additional education can be considered. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation may even work with the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation to purchase supplies and equipment for the new job.
During involvement with rehabilitation programs, an injured worker can be eligible for Living Maintenance payments. Living Maintenance is a form of compensation (similar to temporary total disability) that may continue beyond returning to work if the new job pays less than the former position of employment. Compensation for such lost wages (known as Wage Loss or Living Maintenance Wage Loss) is calculated based upon a percentage of the difference between what the old job paid and the new job pays. Wage loss compensation is payable after the rehabilitation file is closed and may be paid if there is return to work at a lower paying job or if the injured employee is actively searching for work within his/her work restrictions.