Your doctor has discharged you to return to work with permanent restrictions, and your employer says those restrictions cannot be accommodated. Given your employer has no obligation to accommodate them or to hold your job, what are your options and next steps?
Here is everything you need to know about what you can do next.
Apply for Reasonable Accommodation
If you believe you can do your old job with reasonable accommodations, you can apply for them under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations where necessary.
Of course, if your employer is already trying to send you packing, it may not be worthwhile to fight that fight with them. You may get more mileage out of a different option.
Apply to a Vocational Rehabilitation Program
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development offers vocational rehabilitation programs. Anyone with a physical, mental, or cognitive disability may apply. They offer career counseling, training, and funding for college training, driver training, or skills training to eligible individuals.
Many services are free.
The United States Department of Labor also offers vocational rehabilitation services. Anyone who is an injured worker in receipt of compensation payments may apply as long as they cannot return to their regular job. The DoL must also see that there are appropriate return-to-work opportunities within your commuting area. You are also eligible after a settlement, but you must be able to support yourself financially during the process. College assistance isn’t available at the federal level.
As workers’ compensation attorneys, we can help you take advantage of these programs if you are having trouble navigating them.
Attempt a New Job Hunt
Depending on your restrictions, you may be eligible for an office job. Some people can find a new position in the same industry, for example.
While you may not enjoy the same rate of pay you once enjoyed, it may be an option for some individuals.
Apply for Permanent Disability
Permanent disability benefits usually require you to show that you can’t work any job, and you have to be able to show that no fundamental or marked improvement may reasonably be expected.
If so, you may qualify for lifelong benefits. New Jersey law also presumes permanent total disability if you’ve lost or lost the use of two or more major members of the body (eyes, arms, hands, legs, and feet), even if you could technically find gainful employment.
As you can imagine, it is very difficult to get onto permanent disability. Workers’ compensation insurance companies look for any reason to deny it wherever possible. You may need help from an attorney to pursue this option.