Employer Credited for TTD Paid While Employee Failed to Attend Vocational Rehabilitation Classes

by | Jan 10, 2014

Recently, the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court ruled in Palmer v. U-Pull It, Inc., Doc. 210 No. 1574 (2013), that a Plaintiff who did not attend his vocational rehabilitation classes and was dishonest about his attendance was not entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) payments during that time and awarded the Defendant a credit for its overpayment of TTD.

Vocational rehabilitation benefits are appropriate when an injured claimant cannot return to work for which he has previous training or experience as a result of the permanent impairment and/or work restrictions arising out of the work-related injury. The insurer/employer generally has an obligation to pay temporary total disability benefits during the vocational rehabilitation program. Neb. Rev. Stat. §48-162.01.

In Palmer, the Plaintiff had been awarded a vocational rehabilitation program which included taking classes at Metropolitan Community College.  The record indicated that Plaintiff rarely, if ever, attended class, although he continued to receive TTD payments from the Defendant. Furthermore, every time his vocational rehabilitation counselor contacted him, he reported that school was going well and that he was staying busy attending classes. When it was discovered that the Plaintiff was not keeping up with his vocational rehabilitation program, the Court terminated the program and awarded the Defendant a credit for the overpayment of TTD to be applied against any further payment of indemnity to the Plaintiff.

This case demonstrates the importance of employers ensuring that their injured employees are following their vocational rehabilitation plans in order to prevent overpayment of benefits.  For more information regarding awards of vocational rehabilitation in Nebraska, please contact Sara Hughes at shughes@baylorevnen.com or any of the firm’s Workers’ Compensation attorneys at (402) 475-1075.