It depends – on a lot. The Washington workers’ compensation law provides for vocational rehabilitation services if the worker does not have the experience or transferable skills to return to at least minimum wage work following an injury. The rule is simple to state but hard to apply fairly in most cases. Different vocational counselors will come up with different conclusions, even on the same case. Age, education, experience, transferable skills, learning ability, physical and mental abilities, and preexisting conditions all must be taken into account. If an injured worker can perform light or sedentary work generally available, he is not considered disabled. Even if the department is ready to provide vocational services, an employer can stop it by offering a return to work option. Keeping an employer honest in this situation is difficult. Many injured workers consult with attorneys at this stage of a claim, because so much is at stake.
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