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    Danae Hammitt   

Vocational assistance for injured workers

This overview of vocational assistance does not describe in detail all the situations that may be present in a particular claim. All claims are unique, and if you have questions about your eligibility for vocational assistance, please call a RRU vocational consultant:

Salem: 503-947-7816 or 1-800-452-0288 or
Medford: 541-776-6032 or 1-800-696-7161.

Eligibility requirements
As an injured worker, you may be eligible for vocational assistance if you:

have an accepted disabling claim or claim for aggravation

have a permanent partial disability (PPD) award

are unable to return to your regular job, or other suitable employment with your employer at injury or aggravation

are available in Oregon for vocational assistance

are authorized to work in the United States

have a substantial handicap to employment, i.e., your injury prevents you from returning to a job that would pay at least 80% of your adjusted weekly wage at the time of injury


Insurer requirements
The insurer is required to contact you within 5 days of:

receiving a request for vocational assistance from you

receiving a report sufficient to document a need for vocational assistance

finding out that the claim qualifies for closure because you are medically stationary, i.e., your medical condition is not expected to improve with further treatment or the passage of time

Within 30 days of one of the required contacts listed above, the insurer will determine if you are eligible for vocational assistance and notify you of its decision in writing.


Suitable employment or a suitable job means employment or a job for which you have the necessary physical capacities, knowledge, skills, and abilities, which pays a suitable wage, and which is permanent.

Reasonable commuting distance is no more than 50 miles one-way modified by other factors:

wage of the job; a low wage may justify a shorter commute

your pre-injury commute

your physical capacities, if they restrict your ability to sit or drive for 50 miles

commuting practices for other workers in your geographic area

distance from your residence to the nearest cities or towns, which offer employment opportunities

Suitable wage:

for the purpose of determining eligibility for vocational assistance, a wage at least 80 percent of the adjusted weekly wage

for the purpose of providing and/or ending vocational assistance, a wage as close as possible to 100 percent of the adjusted weekly wage. This wage may be considered suitable if less than 80 percent of the adjusted weekly wage, if the wage is as close as possible to the adjusted weekly wage.


Adjusted weekly wage is the weekly wage you were earning at the time of injury, adjusted by any cost-of-living increases since the date of injury.

What happens if I am eligible?
If you are determined eligible for vocational assistance, you and the insurer will select a vocational rehabilitation counselor. You and your counselor will then:


Select a vocational goal


Develop a return-to-work plan, either direct employment or training


Implement the return-to-work plan


Begin your job search


Return to a new job


Types of vocational assistance
Direct Employment:
Direct employment assistance is provided if you can return to suitable employment without training. It is also provided after completion of a training plan. A direct employment plan may include:

vocational goal selection

job search skills instruction

job interview practice

direct worker purchases: mileage reimbursement, clothing, tools

job development

If a direct employment plan will not enable you to return to a wage as close as possible to your adjusted weekly wage, you will need training. A training plan may include:

vocational goal selection

on- the-job training

skills training

formal training

job interview practice

direct worker purchases, e.g., tuition, books, mileage reimbursement, clothing, tools

job development

A training plan is limited to 16 months, but may be extended to 21 months for a worker with an exceptional disability or an exceptional loss of earning capacity.


Types of Training

On-the-job training is provided by an employer and is intended to prepare the worker for suitable employment with the training employer, and for employment in the labor market at large.

Skills training is hands-on instruction in an actual workplace. The curriculum is monitored by a community college and may include academic classes to supplement skills training activities.

Formal training is classroom instruction provided by a community college or a licensed vocational school.


Dispute Resolution
In the event you disagree with a decision by the insurer or vocational counselor you can contact a Rehabilitation Review Unit (RRU) vocational consultant. The consultant will work with you and the insurer to help resolve the dispute. You may also contact a consultant to answer any questions you may have concerning your vocational assistance.

RRU Vocational Consultants:

Salem: 503-947-7816 or 1-800-452-0288

Medford: 541-776-6032 or 1-800-696-7161

If you have questions about this webpage, please contact Danae Hammitt, 503-947-7018.