June 9, 1995
New vocational rehabilitation regulations are now in effect which are aimed at reducing paperwork, minimizing billing disputes, and speeding the process of determining the medical eligibility of employees in disputed cases. Specifically, the new regulations:
In addition, the new "Help in Returning to Work -- 94" pamphlet is now approved. It must be provided to the injured employee after 90 days of aggregate total disability (when he or she is notified of his or her potential right to vocational rehabilitation services) and be used for injuries which occur on or after January 1, 1994 .
RU 120 and RU 121 are new standardized reports which replace the 8-12 page narrative vocational rehabilitation reports which counselors previously prepared and submitted to the claims administrators. It was felt that the production of these expensive narrative reports was not in the employee's best interest in view of the reduced amount of money available for the provision of services.
In addition to the new regulations, which were adopted on February 22, 1995, revised standards governing the timeliness and quality of vocational rehabilitation services have been approved by the Administrative Director and will be distributed through the main counseling and insurer organizations.
The new standards were necessary because of the recent changes in the law which provide a $16,000 cap for vocational rehabilitation benefits and services. The revised standards also address the requirement that schools, trainers and tutors must be approved by the Council for Private Post Secondary Education. They make clear that in developing a plan, counselors must determine whether facilities or persons providing training have been approved by the Council, which has jurisdiction over all training facilities in California.
One of the questions that is frequently asked is when does the $16,000 cap begin. Section 10125 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations states that the cap begins when all of the following occur: