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Question to 1171 re: Voc Rehab - Printable Version

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Question to 1171 re: Voc Rehab - katicabogar - 01-22-2009

Hi, 1171.

I am in Washington state, tried to do some research online about the vocational rehab process, but couldn't find answer to my question.

I am in voc rehab more than two years now, with the second voc firm and fifth counselor. Previous firm recommended the re-training, w/c approved, but counselor couldn't find anything for me, so the firm recommended pension. Adjuster denied, hired a second firm who is trying to push me back to same line of work where I got hurt. Looks like pretty soon I have to attend this so called "pain clinic" for two months, which is more like a work hardening program with some counseling. After I am done, this clinic might releases me to work and my w/c doctor probably approves.

Here is my question: can w/c close my claim while I am still in the process of trying to find work?
I just can't get answer from anyone including my lawyer, who just say we will deal with issue when we are there. I am very stressed out, because I worry so much about the future.

Thanks for reading.


RE: Question to 1171 re: Voc Rehab - kate - 01-23-2009

Hi, Kat,

When you say "can w/c close my claim while I am still in the process of trying to find work?" The term "closed claim", is different state to state. I know you posted your state (Washington, which by the way, their website doesn't give a whole lot of info unless you really dig) but I'm not quite sure what you are asking. 1171 having more experience in the western states will probably have a better answer.

In Florida, they can't close your claim unless you settle, but there is a 104 week maximum that they will pay for indemnity (wage loss) no matter what (unless you are Permanently Totally disabled). And that technically closes your claim for wage loss benefits. But your medical is still open as long as you treat at least once a year.

So when you ask if they can close your claim, are you asking about wage benefits, medical, or both?

RE: Question to 1171 re: Voc Rehab - katicabogar - 01-23-2009

Thanks, Kate,

Regarding the medical benefits, my adjuster denying all medical since 2006, after my surgeon placed me on MMI with restrictions. Since than I had six IME's, but no treatment at all. I had four EMG's and one MRI, most done by IME request. My w/c doctor is being used by adjuster only for paperwork regarding the vocational issues. She denies all treatment and tests what doctor requested in the past, so he doesn't really want to deal with me now.

My question is pretty much about the wage benefits. Can I loose it while I am still trying to find a job or do they have to pay me until I find work?
My daughter's friend, who is an adjuster for the city say yes, I can loose it as soon as this clinic releases me back to work. And I know they are pressured to do so as they were hired by w/c.

Thanks again for trying to help. I am very angry and frustrated, can't really find answers to my questions on the L&I website.

RE: Question to 1171 re: Voc Rehab - Lilly - 01-23-2009

Hi Kat,
I'm in Michigan which may be way different than WA state.....and you know I too went through the voc rehab and 6 weeks of work hardening...but could not find a job in our area. All the Voc Rehab & work hardening is done. I am still not working, nor have i found a job..but I am still receiving my weekly benefits.
(Please note: 6 wks of work hardening was assigned to me after we refused their settlement offer! It was like a punishment act)

RE: Question to 1171 re: Voc Rehab - 1171 - 01-23-2009

I believe under washington comp laws vocational Rehabilitation benefits including time-loss benefits are controlled by your vocational rehabilitation plan. They can be discontinued when the approved plan is completed or it's not being followed. Your claim remains open while you are in plan. If your plan includes placement activies then the claim remains open while those are being conducted. your VR counselor should provide detailed information on your plan and how it works. ask for it in writing. put any questions you have in writing to them with a copy to your atty. Any time you have a question about your VR benefits put it in writing to them with a copy to your atty. the comp system and the legal system love paper. whoever has the most paper wins! (sometimes)

RE: Question to 1171 re: Voc Rehab - katicabogar - 01-24-2009

Lilly, I know you went though hell while participating in that work hardening program and also in that work search program. But you are almost done as your settlement is near. Is your weekly check coming out from your settlement or is it a different fund?

1171, thank you for the information. It helped a little understanding what can I expect, but I am still confused.
I understand if they offer me option 1, it is re-training and I get my benefits until I finish school. Option 2 is closing my claim with a six month timeloss check, but I am still eligible for the $12,000.00 training money for five years. I heard about this, people can opt out and choose the money instead of using it for schooling. Wonder which one is better option? I don't think they will offer me the re-training as I am 55 years old.
Thanks again for your help.


RE: Question to 1171 re: Voc Rehab - Lilly - 01-24-2009

Yes my weekly benefit is coming out of settlement (PPD)....whatever that amount will be! Over a year and a half ago, I was offered a settlement by wc, that we declined, as it was far from enough to cover a working lifetime of expensive meds and lost wages, as my chance of landing a new job is nil to none ( I also have other non work related disabilities, plus the work injury, and my age, that are I'm sure, hampering me from finding work). I am on SSD also, so they had to do a setaside for medicare. I have no clue at the moment and am still waiting to hear about this setaside amount. I have heard/read that this takes a long time to determine. As far as i know, my attorney has not counter offered any settlement amount & is waiting on the medicare part to come to a conclusion....prior to a new counter offer.
I am in Limbo or on holding pattern right now.
I lucked out on the VR person. She was very helpful, i actually liked her , but was cautious of her. the IC sent their feelers out through her ,to see if a settlement was something i may want to take...sure enough, after she mentions this to me during a session, an offer was made shortly after.....this is why one can't totally trust the VR they do relate back to WC/IC and ARE afterall employed by them.
I just am in disbelief that they are still hounding you with the VR process. They seem to be relentless in their pursuit to return you to work. Obviously, your problem lies in the med records that a dx is not yet reached. But if after all this time you are still in pain & having problems, and know in your heart that you will not be able to continue to work.....they somehow see things differently....and are just relentless in their goal with you.
My lawyer put his foot down with them, about the length of the VR was obvious that in my region, there was no work suited to my lifetime restrictions.
I tried so hard, and I'm still trying....but I just can't seem to be successful in finding my niche in the working world again. I have always worked, all my life, and NEVER had a problem finding a great job ( I only had 2 jobs during those 40 years)...but now it's so depressing & hurtful personally, to be unsucessful in that area of my
Do you have a lawyer? Why is he not putting a stop to their relentless VR? Two years is a long time. HellOo !!
Have you talked to him about it?
Good luck Kat, xoxoxoxox LillySmile

PS....Great explaination 1171 gave you!

RE: Question to 1171 re: Voc Rehab - Bummer Knees - 01-24-2009

You are both were fortunate to have voc rehab offered in your state.

In Kansas a few years back state legislators revised work comp.
Seldom if ever is voc rehab offered to an injured worker.

RE: Question to 1171 re: Voc Rehab - katicabogar - 01-26-2009

Lilly, thanks for the update on your situation, it helps to know we are not alone in this struggle.

Regarding my fifth vocational counselor...I had one meeting with her in my lawyer's office back in September 08. She decided I have to attend this so called pain clinic as the IME doctor recommended, before she can proceed. At that time, she was pregnant and I guess, now I have a sixth counselor, whom I never met, since this last one is probably on maternity leave.

My surgeon set permanent restrictions more than two years ago, but IME doctors keep removing them. Now I don't have a good doctor, he doesn't really know me or care, w/c using him for paperwork only. Last time I went to see him to discuss MRI on my neck, he set a record spendig time with me...exactly 10 minutes...3 minutes answering a phone call, 7 minutes to discuss MRI. He referred me to a neurologist for consultation and that's it. My lawyer referred me to this doctor and he is useless.
He lost a hearing for me for further medical treatment as the judge found the IME doctor more credible.

My lawyer, who is my second, I spoke with him maybe three times in a year's time...usually I communicate with the paralegal. I start to believe, they gave up on me since I don't have a good supporting doctor. You are right, the trouble with my case is the dx...carpal tunnel/tendonytis/triggering of thumbs that's at. I have trouble with my shoulders/arms and neck and also triggering of little fingers, but w/c denied all as work related, saying problems came out after I stopped working, therefore not work related. Lawyer refusing to advance money to see more specialist to link my problems to my original injury and I just can't pay for them.

I don't really know what to do anymore and I am very depressed as it seems to me, everyone gave up on me. I know I should find a different doctor, but very few takes w/c cases. Lawyers.. I guess they don't see a lot of money out of my case, so that's a dead end too.