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Be Careful What You Ask For - Demise of VR

Wednesday, January 16, 2002 | 251 | 0 | min read

Vocational rehabilitation costs are going down as a percentage of total losses - at the same time the Legislature considers a reduction, or trade, of the benefit to help 'pay' for an increase in TD and PD benefits.

VR benefits peaked at $534 million in 1990 but are expected to total $261 for 1998, making it the only benefit that has decreased in cost both proportionately and in actual dollar value. But VR suffers from a perception that it is ineffective. It may therefore be eliminated or the statute modified to allow settlement. If so, this may become a case of, 'Be careful what you ask for because you may get it.'

If the benefit is eliminated, expect applicant attorneys to make substantial use of the disability provisions of the Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA) - the non-compliance costs of FEHA will make VR costs seem like 'pocket change.' If the statute allows settlement of VR, don't be surprised to see applicant attorneys raise VR as an issue on cases where VR would not be an issue now.

Contributed by Allan Leno, Leno & Associates, (818) 370-8859 allanleno@leno-assoc.com

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