In the aftermath of the S.B. 863 debacle we have achieved a small victory for injured workers with the passing of A.B. 1145. Voters Injured at Work has been able to have a bill signed to benefit injured workers and ease their transition to return to work. The passage of this legislation that was carried by Voters Injured at Work allows an injured worker to access the training voucher as soon as his doctor determines his condition as permanent and stationary. Previously, an injured worker had to wait until a final disability rating determination and now this process has been sped up. Also, the uses for the voucher have been modified to include tools for education and training programs as well as for computers. These things will allow injured workers to acquire re-training much more quickly and allow them to return to the workforce faster with better skills.
The voucher will be a flat amount of $6,000 for qualifying expenses, irrespective of the permanent partial disability. Also, the timeframe for eligibility is commenced until the employer has received the medical report of disability as opposed to occurring after the termination of temporary disability benefits. Should an employer make a job offer this bill ensures that the injured worker’s doctor is involved in the decision on whether to return to work. A.B. 1145 protects the injured worker’s benefit by requiring that it must be done by a workers’ compensation judge.
Over the course of the S.B. 899 debacle and its avalanche of consequences for injured workers only Voters Injured at Work has been able to put through legislation for injured workers that no other organization has so far be able to do. Voters Injured at Work will continue to work on legislative language to benefit injured workers during the last months of 2012 and into 2013 and beyond. California needs to heal and help its injured workers and VIAW will not cease to continue the battle to save and re-acquire injured workers’ rights that should not have been taken in 2004 or in 2012.