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Return-to-Work Services Program

Contact: Richard Wilson
Department of Labor and Industries
P.O. Box 44324
Olympia, WA 98504-4323
Telephone: 360.902.6313
E-mail: wiri235@lni.wa.gov

State Web site: http://www.lni.wa.gov 

Local Link: http://www.lni.wa.gov/Main/ContactInfo/OfficeLocations/default.asp

Participation: 14,842 participants were served by the Return-to-Work Services program between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013.

Who is Served: Injured workers who need assistance in returning to work. Vocational benefits administered by the Washington State Fund are available to eligible insured workers. Workers covered under self-insured employers may be eligible for the same benefits.

Program Description: This program provides injured workers with return-to-work assistance. The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) uses qualified vocational providers to assist in return to work, assess participants’ ability to work, and, where necessary, develop a rehabilitation plan. L&I may pay up to $17,599 for up to two years of retraining, which may be provided through qualified schools or by on-the-job training.

Other Program Characteristics: Reimbursed expenses may include books, tuition, equipment, and child care. Transportation during vocational rehabilitation services is paid separately. The “preferred worker” benefit allows employers to hire workers whose injury prevents them from returning to work with their former employer and impairs their reemployment. State Fund employers who agree to hire these workers are excused from paying the usual premium for a period not to exceed 36 months with financial protection against any subsequent injury. Up to $5,000 is provided for job modification for eligible workers.

Program History: Vocational rehabilitation began officially for workers’ compensation in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The program helps individuals to return to work through placement, assessment, and/or retraining.

Outcome Measures:

  • Number of workers assisted in return-to-work with their employer.
  • Number of preferred workers hired by participating employers.
  • Proportion of retraining plans approved for In-Demand occupations.
  • Proportion of retraining plans successfully completed.

State Funding: Return-to-work services are funded through premiums collected from employers and employees insured by the Washington State Fund. Retraining fees are paid from the Accident Fund and include tuition, supplies, equipment, books, and travel. Job modification costs are paid from the Second Injury Fund. Vocational providers are paid from the Medical Aid Fund. State Fund vocational rehabilitation expenditures for fiscal year 2012 totaled $49,378,297.

Federal Funding: None.

 Statutory Authority: State-RCW 51.32.095, 090, and 250. WAC 296-19A. Administered by the Department of Labor and Industries.

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