As of July 1, 2011, the Bureau of Rehabilitation and Reemployment Services (BRRS) will reduce its staff from 82 to 27 workers due to the 2011 budget cuts for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010. 

Insurance companies wishing to refer injured workers to the state for a vocational evaluation will soon find out that the chances of getting a state funded evaluation may be hard to come by if not impossible.  Vocational counselors around the state are already being notified that their services will no longer be needed. 

Based on case law, carriers have the burden of proof when determining if an injured worker is entitled to permanent total disability benefits.  Florida courts also direct carriers to consider both vocational factors and physical factors when assessing if an injured worker is capable of performing at least sedentary work within a 50 mile radius of their home.   Carriers will need to rely on private vocational providers to assess the injured worker and perform any return to work services to meet this burden.

Adjusters sometimes get confused on the statutory language of F.S. 440.491(b) which first says they must discontinue reemployment services after the first $2500 and refer the employee to the department (BRRS).  Yet, the very next sentence in the statute states carriers may voluntarily provide services more frequently than required in the reemployment section.  Thank goodness for that – because the chances of getting state assistance for an injured worker will be extremely difficult at best.

Contact Frances Ford at ReEmployAbility to find out more about re-employment services for your worker’s compensation claim needs.