Tag Archives: return to work

Mask Wearing Is Now Required in WA State

Mask wearing is now required in Washington State. Governor Inslee implemented a new statewide requirement that all residents wear masks in public. On June 23rd, Governor Inslee announced a new statewide requirement that all Washingtonians and visitors to the State wear facemasks or coverings in indoor public places such as stores, offices and restaurants. The order also requires that face coverings be used in outdoor settings where people cannot stay six feet apart from people not of their own household.

Governor Inslee’s order follows significant increases in the COVID-19 transmission rate throughout Washington. Yakima County is currently a hotspot, with a rate of COVID-19 spread in that is 27 times that of King County. The Governor has paused the process for counties to enter Phase 4, due to increases seen in case numbers across the State. This pause effects even the 7 counties where the data would otherwise support entering the final phase of reopening, which has essentially no restrictions on activities or business.

Skagit County has also seen an increase in transmission over the last several weeks. According to a notice from Skagit Public Health, this increase is primarily due to unauthorized social gatherings, travel and transmission between coworkers. Skagit County is currently in Phase 2.

As more and more people return to work, begin eating out in restaurants again, and seeing friends and family, the importance of taking precautions against the spread of the Coronavirus increases. Mask wearing is a simple precaution that almost everyone can implement. There are exceptions for those who are not medically able, are deaf and/or hard of hearing, and children under 5 years of age.  Everyone else should wear a mask.

There is ambiguity when the order states that mask wearing is required outdoors when you cannot be at least six feet apart from other people. This can be hard to maintain in the city, where you likely should wear the mask anytime you’re walking down the street. But, even is out on a hiking trail, you should be prepared to put a mask on when you come into contact with others.

The mask wearing requirement went into effect on Friday, June 26, 2020. Willful noncompliance is a misdemeanor offense. You can find further information on the Washington state Coronavirus website.

Prior Posts on Related Topics

COVID-19 Safety for Meat Packing Plants

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued joint guidelines on COVID-19 safety for meat packing and processing plants on April 26, 2020. Meat and poultry processing facilities are a component of the critical infrastructure within the Food and Agriculture Sector.

President Trump found food-processing workers bear a special responsibility to maintain their normal schedules during this national emergency. He then issued his April 28, 2020 Executive Order with respect to food supply chain resources  to ensure that meat and poultry processors continue operations.

“Workers involved in meat and poultry processing are not exposed to SARS-CoV-2 through the meat products they handle. However, their work environments—processing lines and other areas in busy plants where they have close contact with coworkers and supervisors—may contribute substantially to their potential exposures.“

– Interim Guidance from CDC and OSHA
Distinctive Risks for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers

The CDC/OSHA Guidance for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers outlines exposure risks among meat and poultry processing workers.

Distinctive factors that affect workers’ risk for exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in meat and poultry processing workplaces include:

  • Distance between workers – meat and poultry processing workers often work close to one another on processing lines. Workers may also be near one another at other times, such as when clocking in or out, during breaks, or in locker/changing rooms.
  • Duration of contact – meat and poultry processing workers often have prolonged closeness to coworkers (e.g., for 10-12 hours per shift). Continued contact with potentially infectious individuals increases the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
  • Type of contact – meat and poultry processing workers may be exposed to the infectious virus through respiratory droplets in the air – for example, when workers in the plant who have the virus cough or sneeze. It is also possible that exposure could occur from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, such as tools, workstations, or break room tables. Shared spaces such as break rooms, locker rooms, and entrances/exits to the facility may contribute to their risk.
  • Other distinctive factors that may increase risk among these workers include:
    • A common practice at some workplaces of sharing transportation such as ride-share vans or shuttle vehicles, car-pools, and public transportation
    • Frequent contact with fellow workers in community settings in areas where there is ongoing community transmission.
Recommendations for Workplace Safety

The CDC/OSHA guidelines go into great detail to outline the steps that employers can take to ensure COVID-19 safety for meat packing and processing plants. These include:

  • Create a COVID-19 assessment and control plan
  • Engineering Controls – Modify the alignment of workstations, including along processing lines, etc.
  • Administrative Controls –  promote social distancing, analyze sick leave policies, etc.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Educate and train workers and supervisors about how they can reduce the spread of COVID-19
  • Cleaning and disinfection in meat and poultry processing
  • Screening and monitoring of workers for COVID-19
  • Managing sick workers
  • Addressing return to work
  • Workers’ rights
Filing a Complaint – Concerns About Safety and Health

Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 USC 660(c), prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for raising concerns about safety and health conditions. Additionally, OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programexternal icon enforces the provisions of more than 20 industry-specific federal laws protecting employees from retaliation for raising or reporting concerns about hazards or violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities, and tax laws. OSHA encourages workers who suffer such retaliation to submit a complaint to OSHA as soon as possible in order to file their complaint within the legal time limits, some of which may be as short as 30 days from the date they learned of or experienced retaliation.

An employee can file a complaint with OSHA if they have concerns about proper implementation of COVID-19 safety for meat packing and processing workers. A complaint can be filed by visiting or calling the local OSHA office; sending a written complaint via fax, mail, or email to the closest OSHA office; or filing a complaint online. No particular form is required, and complaints may be submitted in any language. OSHA has contact information, here.

Coronavirus on the Job – Workers’ Compensation

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and and Department of Labor and Industries Director Joel Sacks issued a press release concerning the Department’s policy on workers’ compensation coverage related to exposures to Coronavirus on the job.

Under the State’s clarified policy, workers’ compensation benefits must be provided to health care workers and first responders. The policy also applies to others who may have accepted claims for exposure to COVID-19; for example, those who are working in facilities with documented exposures or others whose claims may be approved.

Workers who are quarantined by a physician or public health officer are entitled to workers compensation benefits during the time they’re quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19 on the job. If they develop the coronavirus, workers’ compensation benefits would be provided during their period of illness and recovery, as well, under an allowed claim.

See our prior post, DLI NEWS: CORONAVIRUS ON THE JOB, for more details.

COVID-19 Safety on the Job site

Every worker must understand and participate in COVID-19 safety on the job site. We are all responsible for our own safety and we can all make a positive impact on the safety of others.

Washington State has entered Phase 1 of of 4 towards reopening from the Coronavirus closures. The following chart outlines the general plan for reopening, although the timing of each step remains uncertain (click for an enlarged chart):

The first steps for Phase 1 include a return to work for some construction companies. Low-risk construction work resumes in Phase 1. Requirements have been issued to ensure COVID-19 safety on the job site for all workers. Know what is required in order to be sure that these rules are being followed by you, your co-workers and your employer.

COVID-19 Job Site Requirements

“Any existing construction projects complying with [these] points may resume only those work activities that do not require workers to be closer than six-feet together. If a work activity requires workers to be closer than six-feet, it is not considered low- risk and is not authorized. Adherence to the physical distancing requirement and the health and safety points… will be strictly enforced.”

– Gov. Jay Inslee’s Construction Working Group

The requirements set out to ensure COVID-19 safety on the job site can be read in full here. They cover, in detail, the following:

  • COVID-19 Site Supervisor
  • COVID-19 Safety Training
  • Social Distancing
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Employer Provided
  • Sanitation and Cleanliness
  • Employee Health/Symptoms
  • Job Site Visitors
AGC’s Training Video Covers This and More

AGC has made it’s training video on COVID-19 safety on the job site available for the public. The information is quite complete and conveys the responsibilities of both the employers and workers in adhering to the requirements.

Safety Complaints and Violation Reporting

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) is responsible for workplace safety and health, including inspections and enforcement, consultation, technical assistance, training, education and grants.

Workplace safety and health complaints may be submitted to the L&I Call Center: (1-800-423-7233) or via e- mail to adag235@lni.wa.gov. All other violations related to Proclamation 20-25 can be submitted via at: https://bit.ly/covid-compliance.

Prior Posts on Topic:

27,000 Boeing Workers Return to Work

Approximately 27,000 Boeing workers return to work this week. Those that can perform their work from home will continue to telecommute. Boeing’s press release is excerpted, below. Read the full release, here.

Boeing Workers Return to Work

Boeing has taken steps to resume all Commercial Airplanes production in a phased approach at its Puget Sound-region facilities this week, after suspending operations last month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At all of its sites, the company has taken extra precautions and instituted comprehensive procedures to keep people safe and fight the spread of COVID-19. 

Approximately 27,000 people in the Puget Sound area will return to production of the 747, 767, 777 and 787 programs, supporting critical global transportation infrastructure, cargo services and national defense and security missions. The 737 program will resume working toward restarting production of the 737 MAX. Boeing South Carolina remains in a suspension of operations at this time. Earlier this week Boeing restarted mostly defense production operations in the region with approximately 2,500 people.

The company’s practices reinforce enhanced cleaning, employee health and physical distancing in partnership with employees. Aligned with federal and state guidance, these practices include:

  • Staggered shift start times to reduce the flow of employees arriving and departing work 
  • Visual controls such as floor markings and signage to create physical distance 
  • Face coverings will be a requirement for employees at Boeing sites in Washington. Employees are strongly encouraged to bring in their own procedural mask or face covering; those who do not have a mask available will be provided with one. 
  • Providing required personal protective equipment to employees working in areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained for an extended period 
  • Asking employees to perform self-health checks before coming to work and to stay home if they are ill 
  • Employee wellness checks at the beginning of every shift and voluntary temperature screening at many manufacturing locations 
  • Contact tracing when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 to reduce risk to teammates 
  • Continued virtual meetings and employees who can work from home will continue to do 
  • Transportation and common areas adjusted for physical distancing 
  • Hand-washing stations in high-traffic areas and additional cleaning supplies available

Enhanced measures will continue until conditions allow for a return to regular work and cleaning processes. Boeing will continue to monitor government guidance on COVID-19, assess impact on company operations and adjust plans as the situation evolves.

Governor Inslee Asked About Boeing Return to Work

During his April 16th press briefing, Governor Inslee was asked about his “reactions to Boeing announcing it will restart commercial airplane production, and whether you gave them the green light to do so,…”

The Governor responded, referring to Stan Deal, Executive Vice President of Boeing, saying:

“…I didn’t have a chance to talk to him about this specifically, but we have talked about this prospect in the past, and I am glad that the Boeing company is committing to very robust social distancing protocols, and use of PPE. We will try to get more details about that to make sure that those plans are adequate to the safety of Boeing employees, which obviously is a paramount concern of ours. I will be talking to Mr. Deal. Our departments will look at their plans to guarantee safety of our employees and hopefully they’re going to pass muster.“

Boeing Return to Work an Experiment

Suddenly releasing 27,000+ employees to return to work in plants across the Puget Sound region will be an experiment to determine the effect of a phased reopening of the State. Governor Inslee has referred to a gradual reopening – “turning up a dial rather than flipping a switch” – while watching the data for any adverse changes.

Although it is not clear if Governor Inslee had input on the decision to reopen Boeing plants to workers, it is clear that the dial has been turned, a bit, this week.

Prior Post on Related Topic


Return to Work – Vocational Services

In Washington State, a worker injured on the job must return to work, or be found able to return to work, before the workers’ compensation claim can be closed. Vocational services may be needed to facilitate a return to work. In rare cases where the worker remains permanently unable to work, a total disability pension may be awarded.

The Department of Labor and Industries (DLI) is not required to find the injured worker a job, but is required to document that the worker has the ability to obtain and maintain employment. DLI is not required to return a worker to their pre-injury earnings, either. Minimum wage or better is all that’s needed to establish employability.

How Vocational Services Work

If an injured worker cannot return to their job of injury, a vocational counselor (VRC) is assigned. The VRC will research options to determine if the worker has the skills and physical ability to perform a modified job with the same employer or, if not, another job within the general labor market. This ability to work assessment follows WAC 296-19A-065 as it’s foundation.

The information provided to workers entering the ability to work assessment phase can be found, here.

If the worker does not possess the skills and abilities to obtain and maintain employment after an injury, vocational retraining services can be provided to return the worker to employability. The claim progresses to a Plan Development phase, during which specific retraining goals are evaluated.

Retraining benefits under a workers’ compensation claim are generally limited to two years and a budget of $18,660.46, total, for tuition and expenses. Time loss compensation continues to be paid under the claim while the worker is participating in retraining.

Possible retraining plans that fall within the time limit and budget and that lead to a job that is medically appropriate and is likely to result in the worker obtaining employment can be on the table.

There Are Options

Once a retraining plan is offered to an injured worker, they have a choice to make – whether to participate in the plan, known as Option 1, or to opt out and pursue other training or schooling on their own – Option 2. The worker can begin the plan and then change their mind, within defined time limits.

DLI has detailed information about training options, here.

How Legal Representation Can Help

We believe that we get the best outcomes when we are involved in a claim early in the return-to-work evaluation process.

There can be disagreements about a worker’s actual physical abilities and stamina, which are both important factors in an accurate determination of their ability to return to full employment. There can be disagreements about the worker’s transferable skills and whether they support their ability to return to work. There also can be disagreements about a worker’s ability to benefit from retraining services.

These and other disagreements over vocational conclusions can lead to disputes, protests, appeals and, sometimes, litigation. Determinations are often reached quickly. The deadline for filing a vocational determination dispute is very short – 15 days. While we are willing to get involved in cases at any stage, it is more difficult to address the many facets of a vocational determination late in the process.

If you have questions about vocational services, feel free to contact us. We would be happy to discuss the specific details of your case with you.

Prior Posts On Topic

Functional Capacities Evaluations Explained

Functional capacities evaluations (FCE’s) are used in many workers’ compensation claims and other legal cases. FCE’s can help determine functional ability, assess client effort, and determine appropriate work restrictions after an injury.

Unfortunately, there is no standardization for this type of examination. Many different systems and processes are used, some resulting in controversy in the overall effectiveness. Too often, the functional capacities evaluations provide inaccurate results. In some cases, this can be damaging to a legal case.

The objective of this article is to explain the functional capacities evaluation process, how the FCE is useful to you, as well as potential pitfalls to avoid.

The Functional Capacities Examination

A FCE can be performed in 4-8 hours, typically at a physical therapy facility where equipment is available for evaluating a variety of physical activities. Often, the examiner will have the patient perform tasks similar to the their job, simulating a day of work. Activities of daily living can also be simulated.

Tasks such as stair and/or ladder climbing, lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling of items at various weights will be tested to tolerance, possibly multiple times. Sitting and standing, crawling, and kneeling may be examined. Hand strength, keyboarding and fine-finger activities are also tested.

Throughout the evaluation process, the examiner will ask how the patient is feeling after each task, testing for whether the task meets or exceeds the limitations of the individual. The goal is to determine maximum abilities that can be sustained over a work day. This includes the ability to perform the tasks, as well as the stamina to do so repetitively.

See a sample functional capacities evaluation report, here.

Tips to Follow for an Accurate FCE

Put Forth a Good Effort

An FCE is typically scheduled to occur on one day, rarely over two days. It likely will not be an accurate reflection of your work ability if you try to breeze through the tests, which can seem simple.

The examiner will be tracking your heart rate, respiratory rate other indications of full effort. They will encourage you to do more, while noting signs of exertion, such as sweating or having you answer questions to see if your sentences are interrupted due to you breathing hard after the exercise.

Increase Activity Levels Prior to the Evaluation

Try to remember that the FCE is meant to test your ability to perform tasks over a full-time work week. In order to gain an accurate assessment, try to be active in the days leading up to your examination. Don’t knock yourself out, but don’t sit on the couch, either.

The day or two before your evaluation, try to perform activities that are similar to those you do at your job. If you spend all day at work on your feet, try going for a nice walk, or do a large grocery shop, on the day prior to the examination. If you sit at a desk all day when working, maybe go to a movie or spend a couple of hours at the library sitting at a desk or table prior to your evaluation.

Try to make sure that the examiner is able to determine what your condition would be like on Friday afternoon back on the job, after working all week. You don’t want to have their report reflect your ability on Monday morning after resting up all weekend.

Answer Questions Honestly and Thoroughly

The functional capacities evaluation takes place over the course of a day. The examiner’s report will be a better assessment of your abilities if you are forthright with your answers. If the examiner asks if you feel pain or some other sensation, this is not the time to exaggerate nor to minimize your symptoms.

Acting tough or pushing through pain may result in your exertion scores being high – you’re putting forth great effort! – but, if the results of this exertion are not accurately documented, you may be found able to perform at a level that is not realistic.

Over-stating your response to an activity also leads to a poor FCE result. If the examiner feels that you are capable of doing more than your test results reflect, or that you are complaining of difficulties out of proportion to your apparent levels of stress, this can be noted in the final report.

It may be helpful to let the examiner know the type of symptoms you generally experience, how long they last and what steps you take to reduce or alleviate those symptoms. This kind of openness and honesty will let the examiner know that you are in tune with your situation and are focused on improving your condition.

Usefulness of an FCE

An accurate functional capacity evaluation can be very useful to you in your claim or legal case. It can ensure appropriate treatment, vocational services and impairment awards are provided under your claim.

Medical Uses for a FCE

Your doctor may use the results to support that work restrictions are needed, or that a course of work conditioning treatment is needed to improve strength and stamina. An FCE can also help show that a certain rating of permanent impairment is appropriate.

The medical information within the final report, including symptoms present due to exertion and activity, allow your doctor to opine on your current condition and whether your condition could be improved with additional treatment.

Vocational Uses for a FCE

When a vocational counselor is assigned to a claim or case, they must make a determination of your ability to work. Typically, they will determine if you are able to return to work at your regular job, or a modified version of your job, with the same employer.

If not, they will look at your physical abilities together with your skills and education to determine if you could work in some other type of work. If you have transferable skills to another line of work, they will document the availability of these potential jobs and the willingness of employers to hire someone with your work restrictions.

Ultimately, the vocational counselor will write a report detailing your ability to obtain and maintain employment. The report will indicate whether you can return to work with your current skills and abilities, based on the functional capacity evaluation, or whether retraining services are needed.

Do you Need Legal Help?

You do not necessarily need legal advice when facing a FCE. If you have any concerns, questions, or if your instincts tell you that something doesn’t feel right, then talking with an attorney may be appropriate. Many firms, like ours, offer free consultations. Why not get answers to your questions before your evaluation?

See this prior post:


Back In The game Or Back To Work Too Soon?

Senator Dan Quick has introduced employee-friendly legislation

Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Last weekend’s Big 10 Conference football championship game between Ohio State and Wisconsin contained some off-the-field controversy when former Wisconsin Badger and current Cleveland Browns player, Joe Thomas, criticized the fact that Ohio State starting quarterback J.T. Barrett was playing in the game six days after arthroscopic knee surgery.

While Barrett lead the Buckeyes to victory with 211 passing yards and 60 rushing yards, Thomas argued that college players should have the option of a second opinion when it comes to major surgeries like players do in the NFL. Thomas argued that team doctors are overly influenced by coaches who want players to return to action as soon as possible and that college players are over eager to return to the field.

A similar issue will be debated in Nebraska’s legislature next month. Senator Dan Quick of Grand Island has a bill on the floor that would require an employer to pay for a second opinion if an employee disputes a finding from a doctor paid for by the employer. Quick’s bill was inspired by his experience of being sent back to work prematurely by a doctor chosen by his employer’s workers compensation insurer.

Quick is an electrician by trade and is one of the few blue-collar workers who serves in the Nebraska Legislature. Another blue-collar worker, Lee Carter, was recently elected to the legislature in Virginia. Like Quick, Carter had a bad experience after a work injury. Carter had his hours reduced after his accident and was unable to find a lawyer because of confusion over which state had jurisdiction over his work injury.

Blue collar workers running for office may be a trend as iron worker Randy Bryce is running for Congress against House Speaker Paul Ryan and Wisconsin Firefighter’s union president Mahlon Mitchell is running for Governor of Wisconsin. I am encouraged that people like Dan Quick and Lee Carter have taken their bad experiences after work injuries and have gone into politics to directly address the problems they  faced first hand and make sure other workers will have better experiences if they get hurt on the job.

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 How Does Social Security Help Me Get Back to Work?