Understanding Your Rights in Vocational Rehabilitation in Illinois

Posted on April 10, 2019

Illinois workers compensation benefits provide vocational rehabilitation for certain injured workers so they can move to a different type of work after a job injury.

Understanding Vocational Rehabilitation Rights

In Illinois, vocational rehabilitation is available to workers who suffer work-related injuries through the Department of Human Services. Through a client assistance program called CAP, a federally-funded program under the Federal Rehabilitation Act, injured workers can learn about their eligibility rights and get information about vocational rehabilitation benefits. CAP is a free, confidential service working closely with the Division of Rehabilitation Services (IDHS/DRS) and the Centers for Independent Living (CIL).

Injured workers have the right to apply for Illinois vocational rehabilitation after a work-related injury occurs, but certain restrictions apply:

  • A licensed physician must provide work restrictions for the injured employee
  • The employee is physically able to return to work
  • The employer does not have available work within the physician’s work restrictions
  • The injured employee has not found other work within his/her work restrictions
  • The employee and insurer agree on a vocational rehabilitation plan

A vocational counselor will assess the employee’s work experience, career interests, educational background, and work injury restrictions to help determine existing skills and proper job placement. Depending on the employee’s circumstances, the vocational rehabilitation plan can last from 6 to 18 months, but it can be extended in some cases. If the rehabilitation plan fails, the injured employee can apply for additional programs through a workers comp lawyer or the Department of Human Services.

Employee Responsibilities

Injured employees must comply with certain responsibilities throughout the vocational rehabilitation process. If rules are not followed, a decision to provide vocational rehabilitation benefits can be denied by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Injured employees must: (1) Make and keep all appointments with the counselor; (2) Contact the counselor to reschedule or cancel appointments; (3) Comply with all job-related requests; (4) Communicate regularly with the counselor about questions and/or problems; (5) Get written approval for any vocational rehabilitation payments.

During the vocational rehabilitation process, all employees have the right to a plan that offers education and training for new work opportunities. The reason for vocational rehabilitation is to train injured workers for a new career that fits within the worker’s injury restrictions. When problems arise with vocational rehabilitation eligibility, denied services, or delays in receiving services, a workers comp lawyer can answer questions about benefits and file an appeal with the Illinois Department of Human Services.