If you have recently suffered a work injury on the job, you should know that you may be eligible for various workers’ compensation benefits under California workers’ compensation laws. These benefits can include payment of medical bills, temporary and permanent disability payments, and supplemental job displacement benefits.

Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits Lawyer

Attorney Matthew A. Schondel and his team at the Law Office of Kneisler & Schondel are here to help injured California workers obtain the workers’ compensation benefits that they deserve. The legal team at Kneisler & Schondel has decades of combined experience helping clients litigate claims for workers’ compensation benefits.  If you have recently been injured at work, contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get back on track and assist you in obtaining any workers’ compensation benefits that you are owed under California law.

What Are Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits?

Supplemental job displacement benefits are a type of workers’ compensation benefit that is available for eligible workers hurt on the job who were injured on or after the date of January 1, 2004. Additionally, to qualify as eligible, injured workers must also have a permanent partial disability due to their injury and must not have been offered work by their employer.

This benefit is provided as a non-transferable voucher, which you can use to either pay for educational retraining or enhancement of skills. The voucher can be used at any state-approved or accredited school. If you are eligible for the voucher, you will receive it from the claims administrator. The voucher will be sent on a form called Supplemental Job Displacement Non-Transferable Voucher Form.

Keep in mind that vouchers issued on or after the date of January 1, 2013, will expire within two years of being issued or will expire five years from the injury date, whichever is later. Additionally, you cannot redeem the voucher as part of a settlement for your workers’ compensation case.

When Should I Expect to Receive My Supplemental Job Displacement Voucher?

California workers who were injured on or after January 1, 2013, and who suffered permanent partial disability as a result of their injuries, and did not receive an offer from their employer to return to work, may qualify for this voucher. Under these circumstances, the claims administrator must make an offer within 60 days of receiving the Physician’s Return-to-Work and Voucher Report.

For all levels of permanent disability, the voucher amount is $6,000. The voucher can be redeemed for training programs at California public schools or at other providers that are included on California’s training provider list.

In some cases, the voucher can also be used to pay certification, licensing, and testing fees, as well as for purchases of required tools or computer equipment, up to a certain limit. The maximum limit of the voucher that can be used to purchase computer equipment is $1,000.  You can use up to $600 of the voucher to pay for things like professional resume preparation or for the services of a vocational rehabilitation counselor or a licensed job placement agency.

How Do I Use My Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits Voucher?

If you have already received your supplemental job displacement benefits voucher, you might be wondering how to actually go about spending it. To use it to pay for education or training at an eligible school, you can simply present the voucher to the school. Your school of choice can then contact the claims administrator for direct payment.

Another way that you can use your benefits voucher is to pay your eligible expenses directly and submit your receipts to the claims administrator. The claims administrator is required to reimburse you within 45 days after receiving your signed voucher with receipts.

How Can I Find an Eligible School or Training Provider?

The state of California maintains an eligible training provider list on the Employment Development Department website, which can be found here. California public schools are also available options at which you can use your supplemental job displacement benefits voucher.

Am I Still Eligible for the Voucher If My Employer Makes Me a Job Offer?

Generally, if your employer offers you modified, regular, or alternative work within 60 days after the claims administrator receives the Physician’s Return-to-Work & Voucher Report, you are not eligible for the supplemental job displacement benefit voucher. However, your employer’s offer of alternative or modified work must meet the following conditions:

  • It must be a regular position that lasts for at least 12 months;
  • You must be able to perform the essential functions of the job offered;
  • The job must be located within reasonable commuting distance of your residence;
  • It offers compensation and wages that are at least 85% of the amount you made at the time of your injury.

If your employer’s job offer does not meet the above conditions, then you might still be eligible for the supplemental job displacement benefit voucher. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand whether your job offer impacts your eligibility for this voucher.

What Should I Do If I Disagree with the Claims Administrator’s Decision Regarding a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits Voucher?

In some cases, you might believe you are entitled to receive a supplemental job displacement benefits voucher despite the claims administrator’s denial. If you find yourself in this position, it is a good idea to contact a workers’ compensation lawyer who may be able to help you demonstrate eligibility. If you already have a workers’ compensation attorney, let them know that you were denied this voucher and provide any additional necessary information.

If you do not have an attorney when you are denied a supplemental job displacement benefits voucher, and you have already filed your case and wish to proceed on your own—you will need to also file a declaration of readiness to proceed to request a hearing before a workers’ compensation judge who can issue a ruling on this matter. If you have not already filed your case, you will need to do this first before moving forward. Again, since these matters can quickly become complex, especially during litigation, it is wise to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer first before proceeding on your own behalf.

What Is the Return-to-Work Supplement Program?

For employees who suffer an injury on or after the date of January 1, 2013, and who also receive a supplemental job displacement benefit voucher, an additional benefit may be provided. This additional benefit is issued as a one-time $5,000 payment.

This additional $5,000 payment is mailed to approved applicants and is provided by the Return-to-Work Supplement Program. The one-time payment is designed to help an injured worker supplement their lost earnings resulting from the injury. In order to be eligible, your application must be received by the Return-to-Work Supplement Program within one year of the date that you were mailed the original supplemental job displacement benefit voucher.

How Can I Apply to the Return-to-Work Supplement Program?

You can apply to the Return-to-Work Supplement Program through the state of California Department of Industrial Relations website, here. If you have a workers’ compensation lawyer, your lawyer can also help you apply to this program.

Before you begin filling out the application, make sure that you have the following required documents:

  • The entire supplemental job displacement voucher you received, including the proof of service;
  • Your Adjudication (ADJ) number;
  • Your workers’ compensation claim number.

If you do not know your adjudication number or your workers’ compensation claim number, you can reach out to an Information and Assistance officer through the Information and Assistance Unit. This unit provides relevant information and assistance to many different parties involved in California workers’ compensation cases—from injured workers to physicians, and even insurance companies and attorneys.

Do I Need to Hire a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Obtain a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits Voucher?

There is no requirement that you must hire a workers’ compensation lawyer to pursue workers’ compensation benefits, but legal representation can certainly be beneficial to your case. It is not unusual for disputes to arise throughout a workers’ compensation claim, so hiring an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer early on in the process can help you resolve these issues before they become a problem.

Another reason it can be very helpful to retain the services of a workers’ compensation attorney is to ensure that you are meeting all of the filing deadlines that impact your case. There are certain timelines within which your claim must be reported, filed, and more. An attorney will already be familiar with these timelines and can help you by alleviating the stress and confusion that can arise when litigating on your own without a lawyer.

If you are in need of legal assistance to help you get the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve, contact us today at the Law Office of Kneisler & Schondel. We can help you file your initial claim for benefits and then get started fighting for your legal rights to compensation and benefits.