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Home > Blog > Workers Compensation > Can I Return to Work If I’ve Been Declared Permanently Disabled by Workers’ Comp?
by: NPHM | October 10, 2022

Can I Return to Work If I’ve Been Declared Permanently Disabled by Workers’ Comp?

If you want to return to work after you were declared permanently disabled by workers’ compensation due to an on-the-job injury or illness, you aren’t alone. Many people feel better when they’re working, even when they can’t do the same jobs they did before and even when they are receiving lifetime benefits from workers’ compensation.

Deciding to go back to work when you’ve already been ruled permanently disabled is never an easy choice to make. It requires plenty of planning to ensure that you don’t regret your decision and that you end up in a job or career path that’s suitable for your limitations and disability. After all, you worked hard to get approved for workers’ compensation benefits and going back to work often means cutting them off voluntarily.

If you’re adamant about going back to work, here are a few tips to make the process smoother and more successful long-term.

Discuss Your Options with Your Doctor and Your Lawyer

For some people, going back to work even when permanently disabled can be a good thing, especially if they derive satisfaction and self-esteem from their jobs. But for others, going back to work may be too much of a physical, mental, or financial burden.

Before applying for jobs, talk to your doctor about your plans. He or she can help you determine which jobs are appropriate for your level of disability.

You should also discuss the matter with your workers’ compensation lawyer if you have one or used one to obtain benefits. He or she can help you understand how going back to work will affect your benefits, including whether they will be reduced or lost completely.

You May Need to Go Back to Work if Your Condition Improves

When you’re ruled permanently disabled and begin receiving benefits, you may assume that you’ll receive the benefits for the rest of your life. And while many permanently disabled workers do receive lifelong benefits, they’re not supposed to continue if their condition improves and their disability level is reduced or reversed completely.

For example, some people who are permanently disabled make unexpected recoveries after a long period of time, while others regain function after performing years of intensive physical rehabilitation. Others may improve as a result of new medications, therapies, and surgical procedures that weren’t available when they were first ruled permanently disabled.

If your condition is improving or you expect it to improve, making plans to go back to work may be necessary as your benefits may stop in the near future.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services Can Help You Get Back into the Workforce

If you decide to go back to work, especially if your condition improves, you still may be unable to do the same type of work you did before. Depending on your previous career, you may find it tough to find new work, especially if your former job involved the usage of body parts that are now completely disabled.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) offers vocational rehabilitation when workers:

  • Need assistance to maintain their jobs or return to work
  • Are able and willing to participate in the services

If you’re ruled eligible for the program, you’ll be paired with a case manager with assistance from your managed care organization. The case manager will assess your vocational needs and follow up on your progress, whether it involves returning to work in a different role for your former employer or starting a new job entirely. The cost of vocational rehabilitation is included in your benefits, and you will continue to receive benefits while enrolled in vocational rehabilitation. 

Applying for Workers’ Compensation or Appealing a Decision? We Can Help.

Workers’ compensation is extremely helpful to countless Ohioans who get injured on the job every year. But it’s also a highly complex system that requires a lot of knowledge and experience to navigate successfully. Most injured workers don’t even know where to start, and they’re often still in danger of losing their benefits after they’ve been approved for them because of obscure rules.

Our Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers understand the BWC’s requirements and regulations inside and out. If you need help applying for benefits or appealing the BWC’s decision, we want to help you get the benefits you’re owed by your employer and their workers’ compensation insurer. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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