[This blog was updated on February 18, 2020.]
Injured workers in California are entitled to certain workers’ compensation benefits. One of these benefits an injured worker may be eligible for is called supplemental job displacement benefit. Supplemental job displacement benefits may be available to you if you are determined to be unable to return to your usual and customary employment as a result of your work injury.
If you have suffered a work-related injury and have questions about the workers’ compensation benefits that you may eligible for, contact the California workers’ compensation attorneys at Kneisler and Schondel today. Our attorneys have many years of experience litigating workers’ compensation cases in California. We know what it takes to fight for the benefits you deserve. Contact our office today to set up a consultation with our attorney so that we can get started representing you in your case.
Who is Eligible for Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits?
Job displacement benefits are designed to help injured workers with partial permanent disabilities who are unable to return to their jobs. Depending on the nature and extent of the work injury, some injured workers are able to get back to work and perform the same job and associated work duties that they held prior to their injury.
Other injured workers, after completing all of the recommended medical treatment find themselves unable to return to work in their former capacity. These are the injured workers that this benefit is designed to help. Since they cannot go back to their usual and customary job, they may need assistance in finding a new job which they are capable of performing with despite having permanent work restrictions.
Injured workers are eligible for a supplemental job displacement benefit voucher (SJDB voucher) if their employer does not offer them regular, alternative, or modified work. Regardless of the level of permanent disability, the voucher has a value of $6,000. For those with injuries that occurred prior to January 1, 2013, the value of their voucher may vary, depending on their level of permanent disability.
If your employer does offer you regular, alternative, or modified work, you are only required to accept this work if it pays at least 85% of your former salary. If it pays less than this, you have the option of accepting the lower-paying work or declining the work and insisting on being given a supplemental job displacement benefit voucher. If an employer offers you regular, alternative, or modified work, you must accept or reject the offer within 30 days.
The Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit Voucher
This type of benefit is given to an injured worker in the form of a voucher which they can use for educational retraining or skill development at an accredited school or one that has been approved by the state of California. The claims administrator is required to give you the voucher form if you qualify.
Of significant importance in some cases, multiple vouchers can be claimed if you have suffered two separate injuries at work. For example, you suffer an injury to your left hand. You begin medical treatment for this injury but are able to continue working. A week later you suffer an injury to your head, which might or might not have been partly caused by adjustments to the manner in which you did your work due to the hand injury. You are forced to take time off from work for medical treatment. Some weeks later both injuries have stabilized, but you are given work restrictions with respect to both injuries. Your employer cannot offer you continued employment given the restrictions, or any employment he does offer pays less than 85% of your former salary. As you have suffered two separate injuries, you are entitled to TWO vouchers, each worth $6,000, to help you train for other employment.
If you are denied this benefit and you believe that you should be receiving it, you can file a Request for Dispute Resolution form with the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). A decision will be issued by the DWC regarding your eligibility for the supplemental job displacement benefit voucher. If you do not already have a workers’ compensation attorney handling your case for you, any time you reach an impasse or receive a denial of a benefit you believe you should be getting, it is a good idea to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to fight for you.
One of the first steps in obtaining a voucher is for you to obtain a medical report. A blank report can be found here. Understand that when you appear for the medical examination, the doctor is not your enemy, and will quite possibly be sympathetic to your situation. Go prepared to this examination! Don’t be bashful about telling the doctor your opinion as to what type of work you are, or are not, now capable of doing, and about what type of work you would like to do, and why. In most cases the doctor will take your opinions into consideration when preparing the report; this will help you obtain work that you want, and not work that you are forced to accept. The attorneys at Kneisler & Schondel have reviewed thousands of medical reports, understand how doctors go about composing them, and can help you prepare for your examination.
Using the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit Voucher
The SJDB voucher may be used to pay for any fees associated with licensing, testing, and certifications. It can also be used to buy tools that are necessary for a training course. Computer equipment may be purchased; however, the voucher can only be used to cover these costs up to $1,000.
You can also use a portion of the voucher to reimburse up to $500 in miscellaneous expenses. In addition, the money can be used to pay for the services of a vocational counselor or a licensed placement agency; however, this is limited to ten percent of the voucher value, or $600.
For injured workers with a date of injury of January 1, 2013, or later, the supplemental job displacement benefit voucher will expire two years following the issue date, or five years from the date of the work injury, whichever occurs later. Injured workers with a date of injury prior to 2013 do not have an expiration date on their vouchers. It is essential to keep the expiration date in mind if it applies in your case so that you can be sure to timely use the benefit as intended to help you find a new job.
If you have questions about your eligibility for a supplemental job displacement voucher, contact Kneisler and Schondel. We can help you determine whether you are eligible for this benefit, or any other workers’ compensation benefits.