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Most of the time, getting hurt at work isn’t a big deal.  It may take a little time to heal, but after some rest and recuperation, you are ready to pick up exactly where you left off.  Unfortunately for some, on-the-job injuries lead to permanent disabilities that prevent them from ever returning to the same line of work. While rare, it happens more often than you may realize.

There were about 34,100 nonfatal workplace injuries and work-related illnesses reported in South Carolina in 2022. In total, 577 of these cases resulted in a job restriction or transfer. That means in a single year, nearly 600 South Carolina workers found themselves dealing with a work injury that made it hard or impossible to return to their old jobs.  Thankfully, the state realizes how big this problem is and has set up programs to help people get back to work.

If you suffer an injury that permanently prevents you from doing your current job, there is a free program that can help. You may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services through the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department (SCVDR). These state-provided benefits can help you transition to a new career path that accommodates your post-injury capabilities.

Read on to learn more about this valuable benefit for South Carolina workers. Find out when you should request it, and how the team at Joye Law Firm can help you through the process.

What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational training or rehabilitation is a benefit provided by the state of South Carolina. The program offers a new path for those who can’t return to their old jobs because of injuries. It can help teach you new skills for a different role and help you find a new job. This is a great option if your injuries prevent you from doing your previous job, but still allow you to work in some way.

This training can provide a fresh start with a new career that fits your abilities after a life-changing injury.

What Does The Vocational Rehabilitation Program Cover?

Through the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department, eligible injured workers can access a range of services, including:

  • Comprehensive Evaluation: A thorough assessment to identify the best vocational path based on your skills, interests, and post-injury capabilities.
  • Job Training & Placement: Prepares you for the workforce with specialized training, and helps you find employment that matches your new skills.
  • Rehabilitation & Assistive Technology: Access to technology and devices to overcome work-related physical challenges, boosting productivity and workplace integration.
  • Disability Benefits Counseling: Provides guidance on accessing and managing disability benefits, ensuring a stable transition to new employment.

When Should You Request Job Retraining Services?

You may be eligible for these state-provided vocational rehabilitation benefits after filing a workers’ compensation claim if:

  • The physical demands of your previous job exceed your post-injury capabilities.
  • Your injury results in a permanent restriction that prevents you from performing your prior job duties.
  • You need to acquire new skills or education to enter a different field or position.
  • Your existing skills are non-transferable to other industries or roles without additional training.

How to Access Vocational Rehabilitation After a Life-Changing Work Injury

Injured and disabled workers may be eligible for help through several state-level programs. Take these steps to access vocational rehabilitation  in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits:

Man walking with a walker as a women helps him

  • Report Your Injury to Your Employer: In South Carolina, you must report your injury to your employer within 90 days of the accident. Prompt reporting is essential for your workers’ compensation claim and is the first critical step in the process.
  • Receive Medical Evaluation: Obtain a thorough medical evaluation to document your injuries. This will also evaluate any limitations that affect your ability to perform your current job duties. In South Carolina, you must use your employer-provided doctor for this evaluation.
  • File a Workers’ Compensation Claim: Complete and submit the necessary paperwork for your workers’ compensation claim with your employer or their insurance carrier. Be sure to include all details of your injury and medical evaluations. This is typically Form 50, Employee’s Notice of Claim.
  • Consult a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor: Contact your local vocational rehabilitation office and schedule an appointment with a counselor. SCVRD has 31 local offices across the state. They also have two evaluation centers located in Lyman and West Columbia. Find the office nearest you here.
  • Develop a Vocational Rehabilitation Plan: Work with your counselor to develop a personalized vocational rehabilitation plan. This plan should outline the services you need, such as training, education, and job placement assistance. The plan will also recommend any necessary assistive technologies.
  • Participate in Vocational Rehabilitation Services: Engage in the services provided as part of your plan. Keep records of your training attendance and progress, as required by your counselor.
  • Seek Job Placement Assistance: Use the job placement services offered through your vocational rehabilitation program to find suitable employment that accommodates your capabilities and interests.

Get the Retraining You Need After a Workplace Injury

Vocational rehabilitation offers a free and helpful benefit to people whose abilities make it difficult to find work. This service can make a difference in your financial and overall well-being after a disabling workplace injury. By accessing these state-provided benefits, you can gain the skills and support needed to transition to a new career path.

The attorneys at Joye Law Firm have been helping injured workers since 1968. We will ensure you receive every benefit you’re entitled to under the law. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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