The supplemental job displacement benefit (SJDB) is a voucher program for workers unable to return to their jobs due to permanent disability caused by a workplace illness or injury. The vouchers can be used for education, training, and licensing programs at accredited schools. The goal of California’s supplemental job displacement voucher for workers’ compensation is to give employees the education they need to secure a job they can perform within the permanent limitations imposed by their work injury. A workers’ compensation attorney can review your case and walk you through the SJDB process.
Eligibility for the Supplemental Job Displacement Voucher for Workers’ Comp
To apply for SJDB, you must meet specific requirements. As of January 1, 2013, you’re eligible for a $6,000 SJDB voucher if:
- You were injured at work
- You filed a workers’ compensation claim
- Your doctor confirms that your work injury caused a permanent disability
- Your employer can’t or won’t provide you with permanent work within your disability’s limitations
If Your Employer Offers Modified or Alternative Work
If your employer offers a regular, modified, or alternative position within 60 days of the Physician’s Return-to-Work & Voucher Report, you can decline or accept the offer. However, declining may render you ineligible for an SJDB voucher.
To be a valid job offer, it must:
- Last at least 12 months
- Have a reasonable commute
- Pay at least 85% of your previous wages
- Meet the disability limitations documented in the Physician’s Return-to-Work Report
If the job offer doesn’t meet these requirements, you can decline and maintain your eligibility for SJDB. In this case, it’s best to contact the Department of Workers’ Compensation to discuss your options. A workers’ compensation lawyer Los Angeles in California can help you navigate this process.
How the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit Works for Workers’ Compensation
California law requires that all employers carry workers’ compensation insurance, and any work-related injuries must be covered. Workers’ compensation covers:
- Medical costs associated with your workplace injury
- Temporary disability benefits if you cannot work while you recover
- Permanent disability benefits if your injury prevents you from returning to work for more than a year
- Supplemental job displacement benefit (SJDB)
The goal of these benefits is to help workers recover from their injuries and return to a healthy, productive life. The SJDB program helps injured workers who suffer permanent partial disabilities pursue jobs and careers they can perform within their new limitations.
Expenses the SJDB Voucher Can Cover
The SJDB program allows you to pursue vocational rehabilitation through job skills training and education. Per California Labor Codes, the $6,000 voucher can be used for:
- Tuition, fees, books, and other expenses for education-related retraining or skill enhancement
- Occupational licensing and professional certification exams, fees, and prep courses
- Vocational therapy, resume services, and placement agencies (up to 10%)
- Tools required for your training or educational program
- Computer equipment (up to $1,000)
- Miscellaneous expenses (up to $500)
Vouchers expire two years from the date they’re issued. To receive voucher coverage, you must provide your employer with documentation of your education or training expenses before the two-year expiration date. Upon receipt of your reimbursement requests, the workers’ comp claims administrator will submit payment to you or the approved education or training institution within 45 days.
Securing Permanent Disability Benefits in a California Workers’ Comp Claim
Permanent disability is critical to your SJDB eligibility determination. The program helps workers who cannot return to their previous position due to a work injury disability and doesn’t extend to individuals with temporary or no disability. According to California law, a permanent disability is a permanent, stable condition that’s unlikely to change over the next year, whether you receive additional medical treatment or not. This final stage of your recovery is called maximum medical improvement (MMI). When you reach MMI, your condition is considered permanent and stationary (P&S).Once you have achieved MMI, your doctor will submit a P&S report to your workers’ comp claims administrator, detailing:
- Your medical issues and how they affect your regular activities
- Work restrictions and limitations
- Projected future medical care
- Whether your medical issues prevent you from performing your former work duties
- What percentage of your disability is due to your work-related injury
The P&S report is the primary document used to determine your eligibility for permanent disability payments and SJDB, so it must be complete and accurate. Missing or incorrect details can negatively affect your ability to secure SJDB and other benefits.
If You Disagree With Your Doctor’s P&S Report
Not all doctors will agree on your ability to perform certain tasks. If you disagree with your doctor’s assessment, especially on your ability to work, you can dispute the medical report. You can write a dispute letter to the claims administrator without an attorney, and you have 30 days to do so. However, it can be easy to overlook important details, and the stakes are high, so it’s wise to consult an employee rights lawyer for help. You must act quickly though since with a lawyer your dispute must be submitted within just 20 days of the P&S report submission.
Securing a Second Opinion and Medical Evaluation
When you challenge your doctor’s report or treatment plan, you can seek a second opinion. The process differs depending on whether your doctor is in a medical provider network (MPN), health care organization (HCO), or independent practice. Selecting a second opinion or qualified medical evaluator involves different steps if you have an attorney. An attorney who handles California workers’ comp cases would be ideal.
Consult a California Workers’ Comp Attorney About Your SJDB Claim
When you suffer a permanent disability after a work-related injury, you deserve California Law workers’ compensation benefits, including supplemental job displacement benefits.
The workers’ compensation lawyers at KJT Law Group can help you navigate the complex application and dispute processes involved in getting an SJDB voucher. Contact our office online or call (818) 507-8525 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.