Connecticut workers who suffer on-the-job injuries are eligible for a number of important benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation system, including payment of medical expenses, reimbursement for lost wages and compensation for both permanent and temporary disability. As welcome as these benefits may be, most workers want to return to work and become productive again. In order to assist in the process, the workers’ compensation system provides rehabilitation benefits for injured workers.

Eligibility for rehabilitation benefits depends upon two factors. The first is the submission of a written request for vocational rehabilitation benefits. The request can be prepared by the employee, the employer, an insurance carrier, physician or other interested party, but the application must be signed by the applicant. The second factor is a finding by the Commissioner or his designee that “there exists a permanent impairment which substantially disables the employee for a significant period of time and that the disabling injury is the direct result of the kind of injury that is compensable under the workers’ compensation statute.

Every employee who satisfies these two tests will be evaluation to determine the need and type of rehabilitation services that are available. No rehabilitation benefits are available for employees who can return to work or whose condition is so unstable that a rehabilitation program is not likely to be successful. Employees who demonstrate a reasonable expectation of being able to function in the workplace will be placed in an appropriate program of vocational rehabilitation. Regulations adopted by the Workers’ Compensation Commission spell out how vocational rehabilitation programs will be provided to disabled workers.

An application for rehabilitation benefits can be denied by the Commissioner. Anyone who has experienced difficulty in obtaining rehabilitation benefits may wish to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for advice on obtaining rehabilitation benefits or pursuing an appeal from a denial of benefits.