What exactly is this Voucher I keep hearing about?
If you were injured in the course of your employment on or after January 1st, 2013 you may be eligible for supplemental job displacement benefits (SJDB). If you were injured before January 1st, 2013, you may still qualify for SJDB but there are several differences from the SJDB discussed in this article. In those cases, it’s a good idea to consult a knowledgeable workers compensation attorney. Better known as a voucher, SJDB have changed over the years so your date of injury determines what kind of SJDB you may be entitled to.
Do I qualify for the voucher?
Under current law, to qualify for a voucher you must:
- suffer a work injury that causes permanent disability and
- receive no offer of alternate of modified duty with your employer.
Once your claims administrator receives notice of your permanent disability they have 60 days to send you an offer of alternate or modified duty. If they fail to send you this notice then you are eligible for the voucher. Any offer of alternate or modified duty must be an offer for work that lasts at least 12 months to be a qualifying offer.
What is alternate or modified duty?
You will often hear the term alternate or modified duty used interchangeably. It is important to know that the term refers to two different kinds of work. When you are offered modified duty, you return to your old position but your employer accommodates any restrictions you have as a result of any permanent partial disability you have. For example, you may have permanent restrictions of no sitting for more than two hours at a time. Modified duty would account for this restriction and allow you to continue working in that position. Alternate duty typically refers to another position with your employer which pays at least 85% of your prior wages.
How do I get the Voucher?
Once the 60 day period to offer you alternate or modified duty expires, your claims administrator has 20 days to send you the voucher. The voucher will expire either five years after your date of injury or two years after the voucher was issued, whichever is later.
Return to work supplemental program
The state of California offers an additional, one-time supplement of $5,000 if you were injured on or after January 1, 2013 and you have received a voucher. You must apply for the return to work supplement within one year of receiving your voucher. You can apply for the supplement here.