So what happens if I never regain enough functioning to perform my past
job as a direct result of my workplace-related injuries? The answer: It
depends. In fact, it can depend on many factors. If, however, you were
an employee on a demanding job-one and are are no longer able to perform
due to your injury-related permanent restrictions- vocational retraining
is available to you under Florida law in certain circumstances.
Some Objective Evaluation Criteria. If an individual who has achieved the
level of maximum medical improvement (MMI) is unable to earn at least
80% of his/her compensation rate (compensation rate is the figure that
is 2/3 of the average weekly wage), he or she may eligible for vocational
retraining services through the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
The State of Florida will provide tuition, books, and other material services
to an injured worker if the State believes the individual possesses the
necessary skills and aptitude to be enrolled in a State sponsored retraining
program. If such a program is awarded, the individual would become eligible
for up to 52 weeks of Rehabilitative Temporary Total Disability Benefits
through the carrier (subject to the 104 week cap on temporary indemnity
benefits). These benefits would be Florida-vocational-retraining, provided
for an initial period of 26 weeks which could be extended by an additional
26 weeks if the person continues to be enrolled in the State sponsored
program and is making sufficient academic progress.
How are vocation rehabilitation services provided? The Division will contract
with a professional rehabilitation provider to provide the authorized services.
How much do the rehabilitation services cost? An injured employee is responsible
for transportation expenses for all appointments. All other services are
provided at no cost to eligible injured employees. If an injured employee
needs immediate assistance with daily living expenses, Reemployment Services
Program staff may refer individuals to community based organizations.
A brochure was recently issued by the Florida Division of Workers’
Compensation regarding the Reemployment Services Program. It can be viewed
here. The brochure lists success stories and general information regarding
the program. The brochure provides answers to many other
frequently asked questions not provided for here.
Finally, for additional information regarding Florida’s Worker’s
Compensation Laws and the benefits that may be available to you as a Hurt
Worker, please visit the State of Florida
Worker’s Compensation Benefits website for more information.