Employees who have difficulty performing job tasks due to their work injury may not realize that Workers’ Compensation benefits afford injured workers the services of a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC). A QRC has the resources and training to provide injured workers who are ready to return to work with vocational rehabilitation services to help them find a job. This particular Workers’ Compensation benefit is often overlooked by injured workers. Injured workers, who are prepared to return to work, have the right to a consultation with a QRC and can greatly benefit from their assistance.
QRC’s are certified to determine who is a “qualified employee.” This is defined as a worker who, due to their workplace injury or illness, is perpetually prohibited from participating in the worker’s profession or from taking part in the job the employee was doing at the time of injury. A qualified employee is not expected to be able to go back to gainful employment with the employer and can realistically be anticipated to get back to suitable productive employment by receiving rehabilitation services, as expected by the treating physician.
QRC’s help Injured Employees Move Forward
QRC’s will work the employee’s employer, medical providers, and the Workers’ Compensation insurance company. A QRC will help injured workers formulate resumes, prepare for job interviews and assist with medical management by accompanying the injured worker to doctor appointments. Open communication between injured workers and the QRC is crucial to the relationship between all involved parties.
Communication should include scheduled reports that include activities and meetings that document return to work progress and improvements in medical conditions. State forms dictating the requirements for future activity and other occupational rehabilitation processes should be shared between the consultant and the worker.
Choosing a QRC
Injured workers are assigned a QRC by the insurance company who is responsible for paying Workers’ Compensation benefits or the employer. However, employees injured on the job have the right to choose their own QRC. In the event that a QRC has already been assigned, a request to change can be submitted within 60 days of filing of the Rehabilitation Plan (R-2) with the Department of Labor. If the request for a change is beyond the 60 days, all parties must agree.
Experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyers advise that injured workers choose their own QRC. QRC’s assigned by insurance companies or employers do not always have the injured worker’s best interests at heart. Consulting with a Workers’ Compensation lawyer regarding the assignment of a QRC can prevent injured workers from wasting precious time with an unproductive QRC.
Typical Role of a QRC
A QRC is typically seen as an injured worker’s advocate. This can often be a point of contention in the Workers’ Compensation process because QRC’s are banned from performing certain duties for injured workers. They may not participate in surveillance or claims investigations. They may not suggest future Workers’ compensation benefits. They may not comment on or authorize any type of medical treatment nor may they be party to setting up future medical appointments. They are also prohibited from taking part in settlement negotiations.
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