Tag Archives: return to work

Inclusion Drives Innovation – National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Inclusion drives innovation.

In this spirit, throughout October, the Department of Labor will be recognizing the many ways disability inclusion benefits today’s innovative economy during this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) 2017.

The USDOL highlights how inclusion drives innovation time and time again through advancements developed by and for people with disabilities that have widespread applicability. Some of the most common examples are things like curb cuts, automatic doors, and voice-recognition software that are now common in our daily lives but got their start from innovating for people with disabilities.

Technology corporations benefit from this kind of creative problem-solving, including IBM, Microsoft, and Apple. IBM includes people with a range of disabilities in its product development and testing processes. The result is an “accessibility mindset” that considers how best to deliver products and experiences in a usable way to every individual.

With more than 6 million jobs available across country, this is the time for job creators to realize the potential of the more than 500,000 Americans with disabilities who are looking for jobs right now. More than ever, job creators today can use resources and technology to include Americans of all abilities and benefit from more innovation.  Please, take time to review the companies recognized as “Best Places to Work” based on the 2017 Disability Equality Index. 

Americans with disabilities are a huge part of the American workforce, not only this month, but every month.

 

Photo credit: Foter.com

Return To Work is a Program; Return To Function is a Philosophy

Title: “Expression of pain” – Chris JL

Today’s post comes from workerscompensation.com, one of the blogs that I follow.  I am taking Bob’s advice and sharing his article with our network.  His concepts are spot-on.

I wish I had thought of the two concepts reflected in the title of this article. Alas, I did not. I did, however, once again take two dynamite ideas, combine them into one cohesive concept, thereby saving the universe while still managing to create an enticing, killer headline in the process.

I swear, sometimes it’s exhausting being me.

I now serve on the Disability Management & Return to Work Committee of the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). We met Tuesday during the associations 99th Annual Convention in San Diego, CA. Committee Chair Peter Federko tasked the group with defining a working strategy that would encourage and promote successful disability management and return to work programs for both the industry and injured workers. This prompted what I can best describe as a passionate discussion among the members, each with their own take and view on where barriers exist, and what segments should be targeted in any RTW effort. 

Federko, who by day is CEO of the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board, did a masterful job of keeping the conversation focused as we rambled about with our various opinions. Personally I believe that there are many “moving parts” within workers’ compensation that all must be aligned and engaged to effectively deploy any respectable RTW program. It requires a team effort from all players. Unfortunately, our current trend in claims management is taking us towards a dehumanization of the process, and this is not conducive for the development of such initiatives. 

Two members of this group gave what I believe to be stunning insight, and not just because they dovetail nicely with my beliefs (ok, mostly because they dovetail nicely with my beliefs). Joachim (pronounced Yoke-em) Breuer, with the German workers’ comp system and Chair of the ISSA Technical Commission on Accident Insurance, provided tremendous insight when he stated that Return to Work was not a program, but rather a philosophy; a philosophy that needed to be ingrained throughout the workers’ compensation system. He was followed in short order by Ken Eichler, Director of Government & Insurance Services, Guidelines Division, for Reed Group. Eichler, who is also Committee Vice Chair, talked of suspicion and resistance on the side of the injured worker. He suggested that, to allay fears that RTW was merely a cleverly disguised cost control scheme, the committee instead develop criteria for a “Return to Function” program. He correctly pointed out that “function” is at the core of all life necessities, and that if we can focus on improving that for injured workers, return to work would be a natural extension of any successful effort. 

Brilliant observations from both of them. Federko immediately instructed each to take an extra thousand out of petty cash for their input (not really – I made that up. Ever the cost control maven, Federko wouldn’t even open the committee liquor cabinet). Still, this theory was not quite complete. We haven’t quite finished mixing all ingredients for our RTW stew. We still have one more to add.

As you may notice, both suggestions by Eichler and Breuer fit quite nicely with my (as yet unsuccessful) effort to reposition and rebrand the workers’ compensation industry into the Workers’ Recovery industry. We will therefore include that as a third element in the recipe. This concoction produces the following final scrumptious result:

Successful Return to Function must be driven as an overriding philosophy ingrained throughout the Workers’ Recovery system.

There. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. 

The philosophy maintains that we must return as many people as possible to functional capacity for as normal a life as possible. Severely injured workers almost without exception wish to have some normalcy in their life. They have children or grandchildren they hope to hold. They want to dress, walk or go to the bathroom without assistance. They want to be able to do their own shopping, and they literally would like to be able to take a moment, bend over, and smell the roses. An entire system that embraces that knowledge, from employers, TPA’s, brokers, carriers, doctors, regulators and the workers themselves, can improve both outcomes and individual lives. With that return to function we offer a return to normalcy, a return to life, and indeed, a return to work. 

I cannot speak for the committee nor do I even wish to reveal the path we ultimately chose. Suffice it to say we’re on the right track, and have an amazing amount of work ahead of us. But it will be worth it, as it needs to happen. The current trends are not sustainable. Disability rates are on a dramatic rise, being completely dependent on others is becoming socially normalized, and as workers we are getting older by the day. Our knees are wearing out. Our backs are starting to fail. Many of us have no appreciable skills beyond our current jobs. It is a recipe for disaster if we don’t act, and act quickly.

Restoring life and viability by returning to function via the process of workers’ recovery must be the wave of the future. The choice is simple. Embrace the philosophy today or pay for the reality tomorrow. 

What choice will we make?

Photo credit: Chris JL / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

How Does Social Security Help Me Get Back to Work?

The SSA has programs to help disabled people rejoin the workforce.

Today’s post comes from guest author Barbara Tilker from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

As I discussed in a previous post, you don’t have to be on Social Security Disability (SSD) forever. Many people find that their medical conditions improve and they want to try to get back to work. However, it’s hard to get back into the workforce after being out of it for a long time, and people are worried about losing their eligibility for benefits if they try to go back to work but are unsuccessful.

Social Security recognizes that it can be difficult for people to get back into the labor market and that people would be reluctant to go back to work if they would automatically lose entitlement to their disability benefits. To address these concerns, Social Security runs several programs to help people transition back into the workforce while maintaining financial eligibility.

Social Security has many programs and policies to help people return to work, but I will discuss two of these programs in some detail. These are the Ticket to Work program and the Trial Work Period.

The Ticket to Work program gives disabled individuals access to a network of services that offer retraining and vocational rehabilitation. This is a free, completely voluntary program. Once you reach out to them, you will Continue reading