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Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC)

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Handbook

Part 7


Part 7 - Plan Development

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Table of Contents

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1. Overview

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2. Plan Development Process

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3. Plan Development Timeline

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4. Evaluation of Skills and Abilities

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5. Identification of Suitable Occupational Goals

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6. Determination of Job Availability and the Prevailing Wages

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7. Preparation of the Plan

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8. Plan Approval

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9. Alteration of the Plan

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10. Non-Cooperation with the Plan

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11. Professional Hours

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Exhibit 1 - DFEC Rehabilitation Plan – Essential Elements Checklist

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1. Overview. If the previous employer is unable or unwilling to offer the injured worker (IW) alternative employment (whether or not Placement – Previous Employer services were provided), it is likely that the Rehabilitation Counselor (RC) will be instructed to begin (or continue) to develop a plan for services focusing on placement with a new employer.

The rehabilitation plan is a map for the successful reemployment of the IW. The primary objective of the DFEC Vocational Rehabilitation Program is to return the IW to a position that is consistent with the IW's work restrictions and actual wage-earning capacity, which minimizes wage loss. Each plan must be individualized and tailored specifically to the goals and needs of each IW.

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2. Plan Development Process. The plan for return to work will be based on the IW's physical limitations for all medical conditions that are recognized by the Claims Examiner (CE), whether work-related or not, as well as the work and educational history, skills, and interest of the IW.

a. Steps in plan development. Most often, the development of the rehabilitation plan contains the following steps:

(1) Evaluation of work skills and abilities

(2) Identification of suitable occupational goals

(3) Determination of job availability and prevailing wages

(4) Preparation of the plan, either

(a) Direct placement plan – Placement with New Employer (PNE), or

(b) Training plan (to be followed by direct placement efforts)

(5) Approval of the plan

b. Rehabilitation plan components. Items that may be part of the rehabilitation plan include, but are not limited to:

(1) Occupational goals that the IW is able to perform with current or transferrable skills

(2) Occupational goals that the IW will be able to perform after training or education

(3) Training or educational programs to build skills for competition in the local labor market and for increased wage-earning possibilities

(4) Job readiness and job search preparation

(5) Job placement services

(6) DFEC Assisted Reemployment Program and/or other employer hiring incentives as appropriate to each situation (see Part 9 of this handbook)

(7) Work adjustment training

(8) Other services meant to address adjustment to disability, and/or return to work challenges

(9) Assistive Technology, ergonomics, and/or accommodations assistance

(10) Counseling and guidance

c. Planning with the IW. The RC should work as cooperatively as possible with the IW in the process of plan development as goals and outcomes will impact the IW's career, future and financial compensation. As such, it is the RC's responsibility to provide information counseling and guidance on disability, return to work occupational outlook and labor market information in order to facilitate the choice of realistic and fitting career goals, as well as to engage the IW's commitment to the process.

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3. Plan Development Timeline. If it appears that a return to the IW's previous employer may not be an option, plan development should begin as quickly as possible.

Plan development may begin as early as the time of referral, in conjunction with the PPE (Placement – Previous Employer) phase, and most often, no later than 30 days post referral if the previous employer has not made a job offer or is still deliberating. On rare occasions, the RC may be directed to begin plan development upon referral if the previous employer's inability to offer employment has already been clearly documented.

Under any circumstances, plan development should begin no later than 60 days post-referral. It is important to maintain a sense of urgency and to keep the rehabilitation process moving forward without interruption. The Rehabilitation Specialist (RS) will advise the RC as to when to begin the plan development process.

Once underway, the RC should develop a plan within 90 days. During that time, the RC should coordinate evaluation services needed to identify occupational goals and a plan of services/supports to facilitate return to work.

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4. Evaluation of Skills and Abilities. Most often, the RC's first steps in the plan development process are to facilitate evaluation services to assess the IW's work-related skills and abilities and to explore viable job goals.

a. Types of evaluation services. Not exclusively, these services may include:

(1) Vocational evaluation and testing (See Part 5, paragraph 4 of this handbook)

(2) Transferrable Skills Analysis (See Part 5, paragraph 2 of this handbook)

(3) Assistive technology or ergonomic evaluations (See Part 5, paragraph 3 of this handbook)

(4) Any other necessary medical or vocational assessments to identify work adjustment issues or other personal/social challenges related to return to work

(5) Counseling and guidance

b. Evaluation services may be useful in determining:

(1) The IW's employability in the current labor market

(2) Additional services and/or trainings which may be beneficial to enhance employability and the pursuit of target jobs

(3) Suitable target occupational goals

(4) The existence of other factors which may impact employability or success of the rehabilitation plan, including such things as the IW's social support system, family responsibilities, transportation challenges, other health issues or addictions, etc.

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5. Identification of Suitable Occupational Goals. Upon completion of any necessary evaluation services, the RC should utilize relevant information to work with the IW to identify at least two target occupations (three if possible) to explore as potential goals. If only one target job can be identified, the RC should contact the RS for further guidance.

a. Suitability. Under the FECA, all goals chosen must be in occupations which are determined to be medically and vocationally suitable for the IW and reasonably available within the commuting area. The RC, as a vocational expert, is relied upon to determine whether target goals meet these requirements. The Claims Examiner (CE), however, is ultimately responsible for determining whether a job meets the FECA suitability requirements.

(1) Vocational Suitability. The job should be compatible with the IW's educational and vocational capabilities. If job placement will occur immediately, then the IW must be capable of performing the identified jobs at the time of plan development. If a proposed reemployment plan calls for training, then the evidence should establish that the IW will have the vocational skills for the targeted jobs following training.

(2) Medical Suitability. For a placement or training plan, the medical evidence should establish that the IW is able to perform the job, taking into consideration medical conditions due to the accepted work-related injury or disease, other medical conditions that pre-existed the work injury and/or any conditions that developed after the injury that are recognized by the CE. The job must be within the current, established physical capacities and work restrictions of the IW (as determined by the CE).

If the IW reports to the RC that new work restrictions or post-work injury medical conditions will preclude the return to work effort, the RC should direct the IW to contact his/her CE immediately to discuss the issue and to obtain direction regarding whether the IW needs to provide medical documentation, additional information or take other actions. The RC should also notify the RS so that a determination can be made as to how the rehabilitation effort should proceed based on this information.

(3) Other factors to consider.

(a) Target jobs for placement should be for the number of hours for which an IW has been released to work, unless otherwise specified by the RS.

(b) A seasonal job can be a target position only if the IW was a seasonal employee when injured. A seasonal position in this instance must last 90 or more days.

(c) A temporary job can be a target position only if the IW was a temporary employee when injured. A temporary position must last for 90 or more days.

b. Consideration of skills and occupations. Transferrable skills are generally considered first in the determination of occupational goals. RCs are encouraged to maximize the IW's transferrable skills potential. The RC should first determine whether the IW can directly obtain employment in a target occupation with existing skills and abilities.

If not, the next option is to consider which occupations may be viable with retraining and/or other services to enhance and promote employability.

The plan should consider, as much as possible, the IW's interests, talents and skills. However, plans must be primarily guided by the potential to return the IW to work in an efficient time frame with a pay rate as close as possible to that of the pre-injury job.

c. Consideration of DFEC Assisted Reemployment Program and/or other employer hiring incentives. During plan development, the RC should consider whether the DFEC Assisted Reemployment Program or other employer hiring incentives may be beneficial and appropriate in the placement process. If so, include this information in the plan (See Part 9 of this handbook).

d. Self-employment. Because the success of small businesses is not assured, this option should be undertaken only when it is the only option available and then only with express permission of the RS. In all other circumstances, the focus of the rehabilitation effort should be to identify jobs in the IW's commuting area which are suitable, available and would provide a comparative wage-earning capacity.

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6. Determination of Job Availability and the Prevailing Wages. Once target occupational areas are chosen, the RC should complete one or more Labor Market Surveys to explore the availability of the proposed target jobs within the IW's commuting area and to determine the prevailing wages. If it is confirmed that the jobs are reasonably available and the prevailing wages are as close as possible to the pre-injury wage, recommended occupational goals should be confirmed and, upon approval of the RS and CE, the plan may proceed based on these goals.

The target goals will also represent the IW's current or target wage-earning capacity and may be the future basis for adjusting workers' compensation benefits upon completion of placement services or otherwise.

a. Labor Market Survey. The Labor Market Survey (LMS) is a method of researching and gathering real-time information about the targeted job(s) that is specific to the geographical area of the IW. The overall purpose is to confirm whether the IW is qualified for the identified job(s), the likelihood of obtaining this employment in his/her local labor market and local starting salary expectations. This information is gathered by the RC through a variety of avenues such as employer contacts, review of help wanted listings and employer websites, and research of published employment statistics and wage data for the local area.

Not exclusively, questions which may be answered through a LMS include:

(1) Do the target jobs exist and, if so, in what numbers do they exist in the IW's local commuting area?

(2) What is the current, recent and projected availability for each of the targeted jobs? How much competition is there?

(3) What salaries do these jobs offer someone with the IW's experience and skill levels? (Or skills that will be acquired after training?)

(4) What are the qualifications required for each of the jobs and does the IW have the background, skills, education, and/or experience needed? (Or will the IW be qualified upon completion of training?)

(5) What are the true physical demands of each job? Do these demands match the IW's functional capacities and documented work restrictions?

(6) Do the requirements of the jobs differ in reality from the Dictionary of Occupations Titles (DOT) descriptions and/or are there sub-sets of jobs with a range of requirements and physical demands which fit within the overall DOT job titles?

(7) Will the IW require accommodations to successfully perform any of the jobs?

(8) Which employers hire for these jobs? Are they hiring now?

(9) Is it reasonable to expect that the IW is capable of becoming employed in these jobs within his/her commuting area?

b. Using the LMS Findings. The process of gathering and synthesizing this information can be useful to answer the above questions and in other ways as well. The RC may identify other issues which may need to be addressed in terms of job readiness or discover unanticipated trends related to occupational hiring patterns, salaries, qualifications or work practices which may impact the rehabilitation plan.

In addition, the RC may be able to make employment contacts that will be beneficial when/if the plan moves into the job placement phase, e.g. are there specific employers which are currently hiring and who may be interested in someone with the IW's skills and experience? Is an employer willing to make or provide accommodations on the job if needed? Would the employer be interested in DFEC's Assisted Reemployment hiring incentive, either now or in the future?

Ultimately, the LMS information is meant to guide the rehabilitation team toward conclusions about the suitability and availability of the recommended target jobs, and the ultimate feasibility of employment resulting in a successful outcome of the proposed rehabilitation plan.

c. LMS Methodology. There is not one standard methodology or best practice recommended in vocational rehabilitation literature for the completion of a LMS. Rather, there are a variety of methods in practice. As such, DFEC generally leaves the ultimate choice of a LMS method to the discretion of the RC, as the vocational expert, under the direction of the RS. It is expected, however, that the RC will use a comprehensive approach that will generate the most current, accurate and relevant labor market information available. It is also expected that the RC will follow DFEC programmatic guidelines related to LMS content, documentation and reporting.

The RC must be prepared to provide complete documentation regarding the method and references used and contacts made.

d. Identifying Reasonable Availability. Under DFEC, one of the primary purposes of the LMS is to determine whether a target job is reasonably available to the IW seeking employment.

(1) Definition of reasonable availability. Under the FECA, a job is considered available if it is performed in sufficient numbers in the open labor market of the IW's commuting area such that a person with the IW's work restrictions and qualifications, who is actively seeking work, should reasonably be able to obtain such.

A lack of current job openings does not necessarily equate to a finding that the position is not reasonably available, especially if sufficient incumbent positions or regularly occurring openings are identified. As such, the RC must take into account overall numbers for that job in the IW's area (including current openings, positions filled in the past year and anticipated openings in the coming year) when specifically considering availability, whether full-time and/or part-time.

Note - Broad unemployment figures are generally not reflective of whether the specific positions are reasonably available as unemployment rates may vary from occupation to occupation and in different geographical areas.

(2) RC as vocational expert. The RC is expected to use his/her professional experience, research and knowledge of the job market to consider these issues and to determine whether the target jobs are available in sufficient numbers in the IW's local labor market as to be considered reasonably available. DFEC staff may rely on the opinion of the RC, as the recognized vocational expert, in this regard.

e. Labor Market/Commuting Area. When considering whether a job is reasonably available for LMS and placement purposes, the RC must investigate the presence of that job within the IW's agreed upon labor market and commuting area. Most often, this will be based on where the IW currently resides.

Unless otherwise specified, the commuting area is generally within a 50 mile radius from the IW's place of residence (or generally a 1.5 hour commute), OR the distance of the IW's commute when injured (whichever is greater.

There are some exceptions, however. Depending on the circumstances, if the IW has moved since the time of injury, the RC may be directed to investigate the labor market in the IW's area of residence at the time of injury. Also, the commuting radius may be modified based on restrictions outlined in the accepted medical evidence or based on the customary reasonable commute for a particular area.

The RC should confirm the labor market/commuting area to be researched with the RS, when necessary, and advise the IW of such.

f. LMS Process. Each proposed target job requires a LMS to be performed to assure that the job is reasonably available and to provide salary information. Each LMS is summarized and documented on the Form OWCP-66, Job Classification Form (or equivalent) along with accompanying documentation detailing resources used and contacts made.

(1) Sources of Information. A reliable LMS usually entails the RC researching various labor market and employment publications, as well as contacting specific workforce development staff and/or employers to determine if and how many job openings exist, to identify hiring trends, job qualifications and pay rates and to learn about how jobs are performed in the current local economy.

Examples of resources which may be researched and/or contacted for specific job-related statistics and information include, but are not limited to:

(a) State or local One-Stop, Workforce Development or Employment Services – staff, facilities or online resources

(b) State Division of Employment Security (Unemployment Office)

(c) Chamber of Commerce

(d) Professional Associations

(e) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

(f) O*Net

(g) Occupational Outlook Handbook

(h) Local Job Postings and Help Wanted ads

(i) Employment and Business websites

(j) Yellow Pages/Phone Book

(k) Community Businesses/Employers

Information is typically collected online, by telephone and/or in person, as appropriate. Specific data collected may be documented in a format of the RC's choosing but must include comprehensive source and contact information. Results will be summarized on the Job Classification Form, OWCP-66 (see Reporting).

g. LMS Survey Size. The number of resources and contacts to be used in the DFEC LMS is dependent upon the circumstances of the particular case. DFEC uses a "tiered" approach to the LMS in which the content of a comprehensive survey may vary based on the targeted labor market, position being researched and purpose of the survey.

(1) Large Market. When researching a widely available, typical position (e.g. Retail Cashier) in a large and well documented urban labor market such as that in New York, Chicago or San Francisco, it may be enough for the LMS to reference generally available statistical data from the BLS and/or document a conversation with a staff person from the State Employment Office confirming the large number of incumbent positions existing within the IW's commuting area and the prevailing wage.

(2) Small Market. On the other end of the continuum would be the research of a job within a small town or rural setting with a sparse labor market. In this instance, the RC may gather the most accurate information by contacting a number of businesses in the community.

Most often, a combination of approaches is most appropriate – information from state employment and published sources as well as personal and/or telephonic contacts made with employers, supported by documentation of job postings and position descriptions in the IW's commuting area.

The RC should work with the RS to determine the number of employer contacts to be made in any individual case as the indicated or appropriate number will vary based upon the specific labor market in which the IW resides.

The threshold level of depth for the RC to stop research is the point at which the RC can recommend, as a vocational expert, that survey results are sufficiently complete to make an informed recommendation about reasonable availability of the job. Survey results should also be comprehensive enough to answer any other questions related to physical demand, job entry requirements, etc.

h. Special Circumstances. There are at least two specific situations which usually call for a more comprehensive LMS approach. These include (1) research on part-time positions, and (2) sub-sedentary physical demand jobs and/or jobs with physical demands different from those as described in the DOT.

(1) Part-time. When seeking to determine the availability of a part- time position, a finding that the job exists generally in the labor market is not sufficient. A position which can be obtained full-time may not be available on a part-time basis. As such, RCs must specifically seek information about the realistic availability of the target job on a part-time basis.

(2) Sub-sedentary positions. As explained in the Transferrable Skills Analysis section of this handbook (see Part 5, paragraph 2), jobs as listed in the 1991 version of the DOT may have changed significantly in terms of performance and physical demand requirements due to advances in technology or business practices. Jobs which the DOT lists as having Light or Sedentary physical demand may, in today's labor market, be performed at a sedentary or sub-sedentary level and/or sub-categories may exist which are performed as such. Identifying these differences may widen work opportunity and job options for some IW's with more stringent physical restrictions.

In both circumstances, these special determinations should be established via basic field research with Workforce Development resources and employers (calling, stopping by, job shadowing, etc.) to confirm how/when jobs are performed and to determine whether they are, in these formats, reasonably available.

An record of employer contacts will be needed as documentation in support of such availability regardless of the size of the labor market.

i. Elements of the LMS Report. The purpose of the LMS report is to document the process, outcomes and recommendations from the LMS and to confirm the availability and pay rate of target jobs. The report provides comprehensive documentation of all sources used, contacts made and information obtained, as well as the RC's professional opinion regarding reasonable availability.

As with the LMS method, the format of the report is left to the discretion of the RC but it is expected to contain the elements listed below and a concise narrative justifying recommendations.

Elements to be included are as follows:

(1) Job Classification Form, OWCP–66. A separate Form OWCP-66 should be completed for each target job, summarizing DOT information about the job and the RC's professional opinion about and confirmation of reasonable availability. When filling out the Form OWCP-66, the RC should:

(a) Fill out the form completely

(b) Attach or copy the actual DOT job description in the form along with any relevant descriptions or data from O*Net, if applicable

(c) Select the physical demands and working conditions based on the actual DOT information (not opinion); if there are differences between the DOT information and the job as it is actually performed currently, this should be discussed in the narrative. (Sections 4 and 5)

(d) Identify the SVP and provide a brief explanation as to how the IW meets this requirement (Section 6)

(e) Discuss reasonably availability of the job in IW's commuting area (Section 7)

(f) Provide wage information for the target job. Usually, the entry level wage or wage range should be supplied if the IW will be new to the job or industry. If the IW may qualify for a higher starting wage, the RC should provide both the qualifying wage/wage range and include justification for the increased wage which may include the IW's job-related experience or education, etc.

(2) Accompanying Documentation. Specific information about sources used, contacts made and relevant information gathered should be included. Documentation should be as specific as possible.

(a) Online or published sources. Documentation for online or published sources used should include:

(i) Name of source

(ii) Date

(iii) Specific statistics, job openings or other information gathered

(iv) Attach copies of job postings, help wanted ads, etc. as applicable to support the LMS

(b) Contacts with state employment or other professional sources should include:

(i) Date

(ii) Name of agency/company

(iii) Name and title of person interviewed

(iv) Address and phone number

(v) Position surveyed

(vi) Requirements of the position

(vii) Any statistical or specific data given regarding job performance, physical demands or availability

(c) Employer or related contacts. Documentation for these sources should include:

(i) Date

(ii) Name of company

(iii) Name and title of person interviewed

(iv) Address and phone number

(v) Position surveyed

(vi) Entry requirements/qualifications for the position

(vii) Physical demands/accommodations available

(viii) Salary or salary range

(ix) Number of people presently employed in this position

(x) Hiring trends and number of openings; including current openings as well as those openings available within the past year and anticipated in the next year

(xii) Available schedule(s); full-time, part-time or both as applicable

(xiii) Additional relevant information obtained

(3) Narrative description/confirmation of reasonable availability. On the Form OWCP–66, section 7, and/or in an attached document, the RC should provide a concise statement confirming suitability (based on physical and vocational capacities) and reasonable availability of the job. The RC should also include any other information that is relevant, such as:

(a) Differences between DOT and current job description, qualifications, performance or physical demands

(b) Sub-sedentary physical demand possibilities, if applicable

(c) Part-time availability, if applicable

j. Subsequent LMS Actions. Upon completion of the LMS, unless otherwise directed, the LMS information should be included with the rehabilitation plan that is forwarded to the RS for consideration.

k. Wage-Earning Capacity Report. In some circumstances, the RC may be asked to perform a LMS to establish a wage-earning capacity recommendation for the purpose of adjusting the amount of compensation paid.

This may occur if the rehabilitation effort does not result in a return to work and/or if vocational rehabilitation services are unsuccessful or have not been provided due to IW non-compliance or other reasons. In these cases, projected earnings of selected target positions are obtained and compared, by the CE and RS, to the current pay of the IW's date of injury earnings and any necessary adjustment to compensation is determined.

For the RC, the target occupations to be researched in the LMS may be those that have been established during the plan development phase if there has been contact with the IW. If contact with the IW has not occurred and/or was not possible, the target occupations may be determined through review of documentation of the IW's work history and medical and residual physical capacity information, Transferrable Skills Analysis and LMS.

The LMS itself should be performed in the same manner as described previously in this section and the report should be forwarded to the RS for consideration.

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7. Preparation of the Plan. Normally, based on the presence or absence of transferrable skills, and chosen target jobs, one of two types of plans will be developed.

a. Type of plan. The two types of plans to be considered for the IW are:

(1) Direct Placement. Based on evaluation(s), if it appears that the IW has current and sufficient skills and abilities to perform the target jobs, a plan should be developed for direct job placement, or Placement – New Employer (PNE). See Part 8 of this handbook. This will include services and supports needed to initiate and engage in the job search.

(2) Training. If the IW's skills do not appear currently marketable, a plan for vocational or educational training should be developed to address services and supports needed in order to provide skills which result in the IW's qualification for specific target occupations and prepare for reemployment. See Part 5, paragraph 5, of this handbook. Upon completion of the training plan, a PNE plan should be initiated.

All rehabilitation plans must be submitted in writing on the appropriate OWCP forms, or DFEC specified equivalent, and accompanied by supporting documentation. While most of the documentation required for both training and direct placement plans is similar, there are a few differences. There may also be case-specific requirements for the plan and supporting documentation. RCs should follow any instructions provided by the RS or immediately contact the RS if this is not possible.

b. Elements of the Plan. There should be enough information in the plan and supporting documentation to justify the job goals and recommendations. Overall, all plans must include:

(1) Target job titles with DOT codes and descriptions along with supporting information from O*Net or other sources

(2) Narrative explanation justifying suitability and availability of chosen job goals and justifying how the plan will facilitate employment

(3) Listing of specific services or supports to be facilitated

(4) Responsibilities of and/or specific actions to be taken by IW, RC and/or other professionals

(5) Information about facilities or vendors to be utilized

(6) Estimates of time and costs required

(7) Estimated hourly and/or weekly earnings of the IW upon completion of the plan

(8) Signatures of RC and RS. The IW's signature of agreement with the plan, although preferred, is not mandatory in order to proceed. Mere refusal to sign a plan (either for training or for placement) is not in itself obstruction of the rehabilitation effort provided that the IW is actively cooperating in all other aspects of the plan.

c. Plan documentation. Specifically, plans require the following forms and supporting documents:

(1) All plans should include:

(a) Form OWCP-16, Rehabilitation Plan and Award

(i) Outlines all rehabilitation services and projected plan costs over and above the initial $5,000 authorized upon referral

(ii) With signatures, documents IW understanding of, and agreement with plan as well as that of the RC and RS

(b) Form(s) OWCP-66, Job Classification forms; one for each job

(c) A concise, comprehensive narrative, in lay terms, providing rationale for the selection of the specific occupational goals as well as an explanation regarding how services and supports in the plan will assist the IW in obtaining employment. The narrative should include the following elements:

(i) IW profile – work restrictions, work history, educational history and other pertinent data with listed sources. Work history, educational history, etc. may be in the form of resume.

Note - A resume is required for all PNE plans and job search efforts. See Part 8, paragraph 5, of this handbook.

(ii) Confirmation of medical suitability – including physical requirements for job goals from the DOT and/or O*Net descriptions and explanation as to how these are consistent with the IW's work restrictions.

(iii) Confirmation of vocational suitability – Discussion of the DOT, SVP and/or O*Net job requirements and explanation regarding how these are consistent with the IW's qualifications based on work and educational skills and experience.

(iv) Confirmation of reasonable availability– A statement of availability must be included for each targeted occupation, based upon sound LMS data, that the identified occupation is reasonably available in the open labor market, within commuting distance of the IW's residence, such that a person with the IW's work restrictions and qualifications, who is actively seeking work, would reasonably be able to obtain such. References should be included.

(v) Discussion of the IW's motivation to return to work and/or any other positive or challenging personal or social support issues which may impact return to work efforts.

(vi) Information about whether the DFEC Assisted Reemployment Program or other possible employer hiring incentives (see Part 9 of this handbook) may be relevant for use once the placement process is initiated.

(d) Form(s) OWCP–24, Vendor Authorizations (or equivalent)- one for each vendor that will be providing services. This document guarantees payment to the vendor. The funding on the OWCP-24 form should match a similar funding line on the overall OWCP-16, Rehabilitation Plan and Award form, which encumbers the vendor's funds for use.

(e) Copies of the TSA and LMS results

(f) Copies of any Vocational Evaluation/testing results and related documentation

(g) Supplemental information from O*Net, Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) or other sources as applicable

(h) Form OWCP-23, Maintenance Request, as optionally requested by the RS if the IW is entitled to maintenance reimbursement

(2) Plans which require training should also include:

(a) Training facility's accreditation information (for vocational and college plans)

(b) Training program graduation and employment success rates (for vocational and college plans)

(c) Discussion of the projected difference in earning capacity before and after completion of training

(3) Plans for direct placement (Placement – New Employer) should also include:

(a) Individual Rehabilitation Placement Plan (IRPP)

(b) Explanation for any significant difference between the pre-injury wage and the post-rehabilitation plan wage

(4) Plan submission. Required forms are available electronically on the DFEC website.

See Exhibit 1 in this Part for a checklist that can be used to assure all necessary information is submitted.

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8. Plan Approval. The completed plan and accompanying documentation must be submitted to the RS for consideration as promptly as possible or within 90 days after the start of plan development, unless the RS has granted an extension. Under no circumstances should any plan be implemented without the expressed approval of the RS.

Within 10 business days of receipt of the plan, the RS should approve, disapprove or request modification of the plan. If the plan is accepted and approved, the RS will sign and return the OWCP-16, Rehabilitation Plan and Award form, along with Form OWCP-3, Status Report, which will provide any other necessary instructions.

If modifications are requested and/or the plan is not approved, the RC will be notified of the specific reasons on the Status Report (Form OWCP-3) or equivalent.

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9. Alteration of the Plan. If changes in the documented rehabilitation plan are needed , the RC should promptly forward the recommendation to the RS in writing, including justification. If the proposed change does not require additional funding or additional calendar time or changed target jobs, the RC may make the request in a regular monthly rehabilitation progress report. If proposed changes will require funding which exceeds the amount authorized, or additional calendar time or changed target jobs the RC must submit an addendum Rehabilitation Plan and Award Form (OWCP-16) and new Vendor Authorization forms (OWCP-24) for any new service providers. The addendum should be on a new OWCP-16 form and contain only those items which have changed from the original OWCP-16 Rehabilitation Plan and Award.

The RS will evaluate the request and approve or disapprove the revised plan on the Status Report (Form OWCP-3) or equivalent and amended Form OWCP-16, if applicable.

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10. Non-Cooperation with the Plan. As stated previously, RCs should work as closely as possible with the IW on the development of the rehabilitation plan so that cooperation can be readily expected.

If, however, the IW obstructs plan development and/or refuses to participate, the RC should notify the RS promptly and, when appropriate, use the Rehabilitation Action Report, OWCP-44. The RC should discuss how to proceed and seek guidance from the RS. As FECA IW do have a statutory obligation to cooperate with the vocational rehabilitation process, the IW should understand both the benefits of the plan as well as the consequences of non-cooperation. This process may include a letter from the CE that constitutes a sanction warning and which specifies performance and conduct obligations.

If non-participation in plan development continues the RC should again notify the RS so that the CE may determine if sanctions are warranted. The RS will direct the RC as to how and/or if to proceed with rehabilitation services in either instance.

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11. Professional Hours. RCs are authorized up to 25 professional hours for plan development including coordination of evaluation and testing, TSA, LMS, counseling and guidance and completion of plan. Reasonable travel and clerical time may be added to the 25 hour limit.

Any requests for additional calendar time or professional hours for plan development must be submitted to the RS promptly and in writing, with an explanation justifying the request.

The RS will approve or disapprove the request, documenting this in writing on the Status Report form (OWCP-3) or equivalent. The RC must ensure that written approval of increased time or hours has been received prior to providing extended services.

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EXHIBIT 1

DFEC Rehabilitation Plan – Essential Elements Checklist

□ Form OWCP-16 – Rehabilitation Plan and Award

□ Form OWCP-66 – Job Classification Form – One form for each proposed job goal

□ Plan Narrative – concise, comprehensive narrative providing rationale for selection of specific occupational goals and explanation of how plan will facilitate employment. To include:

  • IW profile information – work restrictions, work history, educational history and other pertinent data with listed sources
  • Confirmation of medical suitability– include physical requirements for job goals from DOT and/or O*Net descriptions with explanation of how these are consistent with IW's work restrictions
  • Confirmation of vocational suitability– discuss DOT and SVP ratings and/or O*Net job requirements and how IW qualifies based on skills, experience and education
  • Confirmation of reasonable availability – Based on labor market survey data, discuss availability of each targeted occupation in IW's commuting area and for someone with IW's restrictions and qualifications
  • Discussion of the anticipated difference in earning capacity before and after plan completion; including an explanation if any significant difference between pre-injury wage and post-rehab wage is anticipated
  • Address IW's motivation to return to work and/or any other issues which may impact return to work efforts

□ Form OWCP-24 - Vendor Authorization – One form for each vendor providing services

□ Form OWCP-17 - Maintenance Certification –If needed, used to authorize payment of plan related expenses for the IW

□ Copy of Transferrable Skills Analysis

□ Copy of Labor Market Survey

□ Copies of Vocational Evaluation/testing results and documentation, if performed

 

For Direct Placement (PNE) Plans also include:

□ Individual Rehab Placement Plan and Job Search Plan and Agreement

 

For Plans requiring Training also include:

□ Information re: Training/Educational facility

  • Facility accreditation
  • Program's graduation and employment success rates

 

□ Additional Forms requested by RS ______________________________________

 

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