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Wisconsin Workers' Compensation Legal Library


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102.61 Indemnity under rehabilitation law.

(1) Subject to subs. (1g) and (1m) , an employee who is entitled to receive and has received compensation under this chapter, and who is entitled to and is receiving instruction under 29 USC 701 to 797b , as administered by the state in which the employee resides or in which the employee resided at the time of becoming physically disabled, shall, in addition to other indemnity, be paid the actual and necessary costs of tuition, fees, books, and travel required for the employee's rehabilitation training program and, if the employee receives that instruction elsewhere than at the place of residence, the actual and necessary costs of maintenance, during rehabilitation, subject to the conditions and limitations specified in sub. (1r) . The costs of travel under this subsection shall be paid at the same rate as is provided for state officers and employees under s. 20.916 (8) .

(1g) (a) In this subsection, " suitable employment" means employment that is within an employee's permanent work restrictions, that the employee has the necessary physical capacity, knowledge, transferable skills, and ability to perform, and that pays not less than 90 percent of the employee's preinjury average weekly wage, except that employment that pays 90 percent or more of the employee's preinjury average weekly wage does not constitute suitable employment if any of the following apply:

  1. The employee's education, training, or employment experience demonstrates that the employee is on a career or vocational path, the employee's average weekly wage on the date of injury does not reflect the average weekly wage that the employee reasonably could have been expected to earn in the demonstrated career or vocational path, and the permanent work restrictions caused by the injury impede the employee's ability to pursue the demonstrated career or vocational path.

  2. The employee was performing part-time employment at the time of the injury, the employee's average weekly wage for compensation purposes is calculated under s. 102.11 (1) (f) 1. or 2. , and that average weekly wage exceeds the employee's gross average weekly wage for the part-time employment.

(b)
If an employer offers an employee suitable employment as provided in par. (c) , the employer or the employer's insurance carrier is not liable for temporary disability benefits under s. 102.43

(b) or for the cost of tuition, fees, books, travel, and maintenance under sub. (1) . Ineligibility for compensation under this paragraph does not preclude an employee from receiving vocational rehabilitation services under 29 USC 701 to 797b if the department determines that the employee is eligible to receive those services.

(c)
On receiving notice that he or she is eligible to receive vocational rehabilitation services under 29 USC 701 to 797a , an employee shall provide the employer with a written report from a physician, chiropractor, psychologist, or podiatrist stating the employee's permanent work restrictions. Within 60 days after receiving that report, the employer shall provide to the employee in writing an offer of suitable employment, a statement that the employer has no suitable employment for the employee, or a report from a physician, chiropractor, psychologist, or podiatrist showing that the permanent work restrictions provided by the employee's practitioner are in dispute and documentation showing that the difference in work restrictions would materially affect either the employer's ability to provide suitable employment or a vocational rehabilitation counselor's ability to recommend a rehabilitative training program. If the employer and employee cannot resolve the dispute within 30 days after the employee receives the employer's report and documentation, the employer or employee may request a hearing before the division to determine the employee's work restrictions. Within 30 days after the division determines the employee's work restrictions, the employer shall provide to the employee in writing an offer of suitable employment or a statement that the employer has no suitable employment for the employee.

(1m) (a) If the department has determined under sub. (1) that an employee is eligible for vocational rehabilitation services

under 29 USC 701 to 797b , but that the department cannot provide those services for the employee, the employee may select a private rehabilitation counselor certified by the department to determine whether the employee can return to suitable employment without rehabilitative training and, if that counselor determines that rehabilitative training is necessary, to develop a rehabilitative training program to restore as nearly as possible the employee to his or her preinjury earning capacity and potential.

(b)
Notwithstanding s. 102.03 (4) , an employee whose date of injury is before May 4, 1994, may receive private rehabilitative counseling and rehabilitative training under par. (a) .
(c)
The employer or insurance carrier shall pay the reasonable cost of any services provided for an employee by a private rehabilitation counselor under par. (a) and, subject to the conditions and limitations specified in sub. (1r) (a) to (c) and by rule, if the private rehabilitation counselor determines that rehabilitative training is necessary, the reasonable cost of the rehabilitative training program recommended by that counselor, including the cost of tuition, fees, books, maintenance, and travel at the same rate as is provided for state officers and employees under s. 20.916 (8) . Notwithstanding that the department or the division may authorize under s. 102.43 (5) (b) a rehabilitative training program that lasts longer than 80 weeks, a rehabilitative training program that lasts 80 weeks or less is presumed to be reasonable.
(d)
If an employee receives services from a private rehabilitation counselor under par. (a) and later receives similar services from the department under sub. (1) without the prior approval of the employer or insurance carrier, the employer or insurance carrier is not liable for temporary disability benefits under s. 102.43

(b) or for tuition, fee, book, travel, and maintenance costs under sub. (1) that exceed what the employer or insurance carrier would have been liable for under the rehabilitative training program developed by the private rehabilitation counselor.

(e)
Nothing in this subsection prevents an employer or insurance carrier from providing an employee with the services of a private rehabilitation counselor or with rehabilitative training under sub. (3) before the department makes its determination under par. (a) .
(f)
The department shall promulgate rules establishing procedures and requirements for the private rehabilitation counseling and rehabilitative training process under this subsection. Those rules shall include rules specifying the procedure and requirements for certification of private rehabilitation counselors.
(1r) An employee who receives a course of instruction or other rehabilitative training under sub. (1) or (1m) is subject to the following conditions and limitations:
(a)
The employee must undertake the course of instruction within 60 days from the date when the employee has sufficiently recovered from the injury to permit so doing, or as soon thereafter as the officer or agency having charge of the instruction shall provide opportunity for the rehabilitation.
(b)
The employee must continue in rehabilitation training with such reasonable regularity as health and situation will permit.
(c)
The employee may not have the costs of tuition, fees, books, travel, and maintenance paid under sub. (1) or the costs of private rehabilitation counseling and rehabilitative training paid under sub. (1m) on account of training for a period in excess of 80 weeks in all, except as provided in s. 102.43 (5) (b) .
(2)
The division, the commission, and the courts shall determine the rights and liabilities of the parties under this section in like manner and with like effect as the division, the commission, and the courts determine other issues under this chapter. A determination under this subsection may include a determination based on the evidence regarding the cost or scope of the services provided by a private rehabilitation counselor under sub. (1m) (a) or the cost or reasonableness of a rehabilitative training program developed under sub. (1m) (a) .
(3)
Nothing in this section prevents an employer or insurance carrier from providing an employee with the services of a private

rehabilitation counselor or with rehabilitative training if the employee voluntarily accepts those services or that training.

History: 1975 c. 147 ; 1985 a. 83 , 135 ; 1993 a. 370 ; 1995 a. 27 ss. 3745 , 9126 (19) , 9130 (4) ; 1997 a. 3 , 112 ; 2001 a. 37 ; 2005 a. 172 ; 2011 a. 183 ; 2015 a. 55 .

Cross-reference: See also s. DWD 80.49 , Wis. adm. code.

Under ss. 102.42 (9) (a), 102.43 (5), and 102.61, the department may extend temporary disability, travel expense, and maintenance costs beyond 40 weeks if additional training is warranted. Beloit Corp. v. State, 152 Wis. 2d 579 , 449 N.W.2d 299 (Ct. App. 1989).

The provisions of this section encompass formalized courses of instruction only. Johnson v. LIRC, 177 Wis. 2d 736 , 503 N.W.2d 1 (Ct. App. 1993).

Nothing in sub. (1g) or ch. 102 provides that an injured employee can be denied vocational rehabilitation benefits when he or she is offered suitable employment after an injury and is subsequently fired for just cause. Oshkosh Corporation v. LIRC, 2011 WI App 42 , 332 Wis. 2d 261 , 796 N.W.2d 217 , 10-1219 .



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