Vocational Rehabilitation for Injured Airline Workers

Workers’ Compensation Lawyers for Chicago Transportation Industry Employees

In Illinois, workers’ compensation benefits offer funds for lost income and medical bills, which many injured airline workers need. Illinois workers’ compensation law also provides other benefits. Among these other benefits is vocational rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation programs can help workers go back to work and keep their employment, even if they have a disability. If you have questions about vocational rehabilitation for injured airline workers, an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can help you explore your options.

Vocational Rehabilitation for Injured Airline Workers

It’s important when an airline worker is facing prolonged disability for vocational rehabilitation to be considered. Section 8(a) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act requires the employer to pay for vocational rehabilitation or employee retraining. The employer can also be asked to pay for the costs incidental to vocational rehabilitation while the employee is seeking that course.

Usually vocational rehabilitations services start with an assessment of what your expectations for work are and what your vocational needs and medical care are. It is necessary to develop an individual plan that is tailored to a worker’s particular needs. There are also situations in which an injured worker can ask for school or retraining. You are supposed to cooperate with a vocational rehabilitation program and make efforts to go back to work. If you don’t comply with the requirements of the program, the result may be a termination or reduction in your weekly benefits.

Generally, your employer, the airline, is supposed to make an assessment of your potential need for vocational rehabilitation if it can be reasonably decided that you won’t be able to go back to the job you had at the airline before you were injured or if you’ve unable to work for 120 consecutive days. In its initial assessment, the employer is supposed to consider if a plan of rehabilitation is needed, and if it is, the plan must be given to you and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Updates of the plan are supposed to be filed in four-month increments. Employers often ignore this requirement, and it’s one reason why representation from an experienced attorney can be helpful.

When Are You Entitled to Vocational Rehabilitation?

You are entitled to vocational rehabilitation when you suffer a work injury that causes your earning power to be reduced and there is proof that the rehabilitation will increase your earning capacity. You don’t need to ask for vocational rehabilitation services to be entitled to them.

Often, the decision about whether vocational rehabilitation services should be offered becomes a question of fact for a workers’ compensation arbitrator. Employers and their insurers may argue that you first need to try to find work in good faith, that you should show you can’t, and that you should show that being involved in a specific vocational rehabilitation program would result in a good job placement. However, courts have taken a slightly different view, and will consider other factors, like whether your earning capacity would be greater as a result of being involved in rehabilitation or that you haven’t tried rehabilitation before.

The purpose of vocational rehabilitation for injured airline workers and others is to get help from a vocational rehabilitation professional who can help you return to the workforce in an appropriate capacity. The services that may be provided as vocational rehabilitation can include counseling, changes to your airline job, and exploring other jobs. Under section 8(a), the employer should pay for the vocational rehabilitation. However, the first step will be to get an opinion from a treating doctor that makes clear you have permanent work restrictions.

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Serving Chicago

If you are a Chicago airline worker concerned with obtaining vocational rehabilitation, a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer can answer your questions. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we represent injured workers in Rockford, Quincy, Champaign, and Aurora, as well as Winnebago, Adams, Kane, Sangamon, and Cook Counties. Contact us at 800-444-1525 or at 312-263-6330 or by completing our online form.