My rant for the day .. If you have a Labor & Industries claim – do not EVER waive vocational services. I can not think of a single situation where it would benefit an injured worker. If you come and see me only after you have waived voc services, and your claim is closing, there is very little I can do to help you.
To be clear, I’m talking about declining to participate in early intervention, vocational assessment, or in plan development services. I am not talking about taking the new Option 2 benefit after your retraining plan has been submitted and approved by the Department. There are some interesting reasons to take the Option 2 benefit, rather than participating in a retraining program. That’s a topic for another day.
I’m talking about those workers who for whatever reason sign some type of form saying they decline vocational services, understand they can consult an attorney, (please do!) and further understand their time loss benefits will stop. No good can come of signing this waiver. Any attorney will tell you not to sign it. You are making the Department’s job easier. You are allowing your claim to be closed without an assessment of whether you can return to work. Whether your employability is a foregone conclusion, or is hotly disputed, never just walk away from the issue.
Make the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor do their job. Maybe you’ve already returned to work. Fine, let the VRC close vocational services because you are working. Maybe the VRC will conclude you have transferable skills and can return to some type of work. We can dispute that determination if we disagree with it. Maybe the VRC will recommend plan development. If they do, develop a training plan even if you aren’t really interested in retraining and returning to new work. If nothing else, after the plan is approved you have the choice of retraining or taking the Option 2 benefit, with it’s 6 months of additional benefits. Why give that up?
Most importantly, don’t take legal advice from a well-meaning doctor, the vocational counselor, or your buddy. They are not going to understand the hole you are digging for yourself by waiving vocational services. Don’t sign a waiver, see an attorney.