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Modified Duty Job Offers & Vocational Rehabilitation

Modified Duty Job Offers

Your employer and your claims examiner are charged with the responsibility of getting you back to work as quickly as possible. You may feel that you have been targeted to come back to work too early. You may feel that the modified job offer is not within your restrictions. You are probably right.

Claims Examiner Obligations

  1. The claims examiner must determine whether the written job offer from your employer is suitable for you.
  2. If suitable, the claims examiner must telephone the employer and confirm that the job remains open to you.
  3. Send a written offer to you.
  4. The offer must include specific details and information about the proposed employment.

Your Obligations

  1. Determine if the job offer is suitable.
  2. Provide the job offer to your physician.

NOTE:

Your suitability for the job includes a great many factors. An inadequate calculation by the claims examiner will allow us to challenge the job that you are offered.

Whether to Return to Work or Not:

FEA may be able to provide your physician with the legal points that will allow him/her to give a well rationalized opinion as to why you cannot perform the job offered.

If FEA and your doctor can provide a rationalized opinion why you can't do the job, you will be able to decline the position and force action by the claims examiner.

The CE must secure a second opinion for an in-person exam to dispute your doctor's opinion that you can't perform the job offered. If the CE does not secure a second opinion to create a conflict with the opinion of your doctor, your attorney should appeal the finding to the proper authority. Sometimes the CE will ask for comment on a written job offer from a doctor that hasn't seen you in months. That opinion is of little value.

Understand that you may be able to refuse employment under certain specific conditions. You must be very careful in declining employment, however, as you could be terminated. You should call us immediately when offered return employment by your employer or the claims examiner as your timeframe to challenge the position is limited.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Once you are provided with work restrictions by a doctor, OWCP may require that you undergo vocational rehabilitation.

You are provided with 30 days notice to show good cause why you can't begin the program. If you feel the vocational plan is not suitable, you should contact your attorney and your doctor.

If you choose not to proceed with vocational rehab, you must provide medical evidence why vocational rehab is not appropriate within 30 days from the date of receipt of their letter.

Your physician must state on his letterhead why the vocational rehab plan cannot be applied and provided. He must provide the specific physical and mental limitations you have that limit your ability to participate. This opinion must combine the medical aspects with the necessary legal issues.

If you fail to cooperate with the vocational rehab plan without good cause OWCP may terminate or reduce your benefits.

Job Offer

Forever Disqualified. That phrase certainly has the ring of finality, and OWCP has no greater threat in its computers. OWCP will disqualify you when you fail to return to work in a job OWCP has found suitable in terms of your medical limitations

The situation starts with a job offer from your employer, usually some light-duty position. If the claims examiner finds the job offer suitable, he sends a notice to you giving you 30 days to accept the job offer or explain in writing why you think the job is not suitable considering your medical condition. If you respond to the notice by arguing the job is not suitable but OWCP disagrees with the argument, OWCP will allow another 15 days to accept the job or forever be disqualified from wage-loss compensation for the particular injury

What We Can Do

When OWCP sends its notice about the suitability of a job, an attorney must determine if medical documentation exists to establish that the job is beyond your physical or mental limitations, as indicated by your treating physician. An attorney must review the job offer to determine whether it clearly states the tasks of the job and the amount of exertion or lifting needed in a work day. Simply put, the attorney must determine whether you have been provided with a good faith job offer.

If the job offer is deemed suitable and you can't show that your doctor prohibits you from doing the described work tasks, you may have to take the job to avoid the disqualification. You may quit a job found suitable by OWCP only with strong written medical justification from your doctor and with the okay from OWCP. Otherwise, quitting that job may result in permanent disqualification from wage-loss compensation.

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