Vocational rehabilitation is one the few things/programs I like about the Nevada workers’ compensation system. In short it offers injured workers the ability to learn a new trade and find a job, when they can no longer return to their previous employment. See my blog on vocational rehabilitation for more information.
The conclusion of the 2019 legislative session brought forward so much needed positive changes to the Nevada workers’ compensation system and the Nevada Industrial Insurance Act. One of those positive changes included the passing of AB 128, which will modify parts of NRS 616C.555, NRS 616C.555, and NRS 616C.595. These changes went into effect on July 1, 2019, and apply to all claims that are open without a vocational rehabilitation plan in place.
Length of vocational rehabilitation programs has changed!
The length of a vocational rehabilitation is determined by the percentage of permanent partial disability (PPD) impairment the injured worker receives. This is unchanged. What has changed is the time frame allotted for vocational rehabilitation programs has been extended.
A PPD award of 0% to 5% used to only entitle an injured worker to a vocational rehabilitation program of up to nine (9) months in length. Now, a 0% PPD award allows an injured worker a vocational rehabilitation program not to exceed nine (9) months, but a 1-5% PPD award has increased to a vocational rehabilitation program not to exceed twelve (12) months.
A PPD award of 6-10% would equate to a vocational rehabilitation program that was not to exceed one (1) year, and a PPD award of 11% or more would equate at most an eighteen (18) month vocational rehabilitation program. Now, a PPD award of 6% or more can get an injured worker a vocational rehabilitation program of up to two (2) years.
The amount of the minimum lump sum buyout (LSBO) has increased!
Injured workers have always had the option to choose a lump sum buyout instead of going through a vocational rehabilitation program, if they are entitled to such a program. Previously, the LSBO could not be less than 40% of the vocational rehabilitation maintenance due to the injured worker. Now, the minimum LSBO must be at least 55% of the vocational rehabilitation maintenance due to the injured worker.
The ability to seek a new vocational rehabilitation program is no longer left up to the insurer!
It used to be that if an injured worker is unsuccessful in a vocational rehabilitation program it was up to the insurer to authorize a second plan if they determine good cause for a second plan is shown. Now, it is no longer in the hands of the insurer to determine if good cause is shown. Further, it used to be, if the insurer denied a third vocational rehabilitation program, this could not be appealed by the injured worker. Now, an injured worker can appeal the denial of a third vocational rehabilitation program.
These are big changes to vocational rehabilitation that aim to benefit the injured worker. Well done 2019 legislature!