In 1992, the Georgia legislature was influenced by the insurance companies to abolish the use of vocational rehabilitation in workers' compensation injured peoples' cases.
Prior to 1992, if one of my clients was not able to go back to the heavier work they were doing prior to their injury, we were able to petition the court to have the insurance company pay for vocational rehabilitation. What this would mean is a vocational rehabilitation counselor (cost of $150/hour) would be assigned to my client and would provide my client with counseling and educational sessions so they could find alternative lighter duty work within their skill set. This was such an enabling process. It would allow my clients to realize that they could end the cycle of total disability.
At the present time, many of my clients do not know what to do after an injury occurs and once their employer decides they do not have a position for them. We have found that many employers now take the position that once injured, you are no good to them. If the person has a back surgery, neck surgery, knee surgery, etc, it becomes much more difficult to find employment. If the injured person does not have education higher than high school it is exceedingly difficult for them to find employment post injury. Also, if you are in your mid-fifties or older, it is very difficult to find alternative work.
Vocational Rehabilitation is the bridge that we need to help to place partially disabled people who are motivated to return to work after a short course of education/training.
We need to reinstate vocational rehabilitation in Georgia and all around the USA. President Trump began to talk about vocational rehabilitation recently to help give skills to those who live in inner cities. This will be so good for the entire USA. Plus our highway/transportation infrastructure that is in immediate need of attention will benefit from vocational rehabilitation which will help train people to work in the construction industry in many different capacities which will place them in the employment ranks not the unemployment ranks. We should not let short term politics override the long term good of vocational rehabilitation. –THOMAS F. BROWN, II