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Navigating Vocational Rehabilitation in Ohio Workers' Compensation System

In the aftermath of a workplace injury, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) recognizes the importance of not only providing medical treatment but also facilitating the injured employee’s return to the workforce. One significant avenue for achieving this is through vocational rehabilitation.

Understanding Vocational Rehabilitation:

Purpose and Scope:

Vocational rehabilitation aims to help injured workers regain their independence and return to gainful employment. The Ohio BWC offers a range of services and programs to support injured employees in their journey toward rehabilitation and reintegration into the workforce.

Eligibility Criteria:

An injured worker is eligible for vocational rehabilitation services when the recognized claim is either: a lost time claim (8 or more days off work due to the allowed injury) allowed by a BWC or Industrial Commission order or a claim certified by a self-insuring employer.

The allowed injury creates a significant impediment to returning to employment or to maintaining employment (job retention).

The injured worker must also have at least one of the following present:

1.         received or awarded temporary total compensation, non-working wage loss, permanent total compensation, on the date of referral;

2.         granted a scheduled award under ORC 4123.57(B);

3.         currently receiving wages in lieu of compensation e.g. salary continuation

4.         received a permanent partial impairment (PPI) award and has documented job restrictions as a result of that award;

5.         reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) from the lost time claim, but is not currently receiving compensation and continues to have job restrictions in that claim as documented by the physician of record;

6.         is currently receiving Job Retention services (see 2.a. and b. below) but is unable to maintain the job due to the allowed conditions of the claim.

7.    sustained a catastrophic injury claim and a vocational goal can be established.

Vocational Rehabilitation Plans:

The Ohio BWC collaborates with the injured worker, healthcare professionals, and vocational rehabilitation case managers to develop personalized plans. These plans may include work adjustment, transferable skills analysis, job search assistance and other services tailored to the individual’s needs and capabilities.

Job Placement Assistance:

The Ohio BWC provides support in job placement, helping injured workers find suitable employment based on their skills, abilities, and the limitations imposed by their injuries. This may involve working with employers who can accommodate the worker’s needs.

Financial Assistance:

While participating in vocational rehabilitation, injured workers receive a living maintenance financial assistance. Other necessary expenses related to the vocational rehabilitation plan may also be included.

Collaboration with Employers:

Vocational rehabilitation involves collaboration not only with the injured worker but also with employers. The BWC works to establish productive relationships with employers willing to accommodate workers with disabilities and contribute to their successful return to work.

Appeals and Dispute Resolution:

If there are disagreements or disputes regarding vocational rehabilitation plans, the injured worker has the right to appeal. Seeking guidance from a Cleveland workers’ compensation attorney can be beneficial in navigating the appeals process.


Vocational rehabilitation is a valuable resource provided by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to support injured workers in their journey toward recovery and reemployment. If you or someone you know is navigating a workers’ compensation case in Cleveland and has questions about vocational rehabilitation, consulting with an experienced attorney at Garson Johnson can provide the guidance needed to ensure a smooth and successful rehabilitation process. Remember, rehabilitation is not just about healing physically – it’s about reclaiming independence and building a path toward a fulfilling career.

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Thanks to the hard working men and women of Ohio for allowing us to serve you. The workers comp system is very challenging. By no choice of their own, workers find themselves injured, off work, and desperate for answers and treatment. We are honored to focus on our clients not just their legal case. The best complement we receive is a referral from existing clients. The second best is their words of thanks and appreciation.

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