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Questions on Out of State VT Plans

Saturday, October 11, 2003 | 165 | 0 | min read

My June article, which discussed out of state rehabilitation pursuant to Labor Code section 4644(g), has generated a couple of interesting questions.

Some readers have asked whether a QIW injured employee must provide proof that his or her proposed rehab plan is more cost effective than a similar plan in California. After 20 years on the defense side of the industry, the temptation is to say "Yes", but the fact is the employee need only to propose a plan that would merit investigation in California.

If the QIW who has moved to Oklahoma City wants to become an electronics technician, the defendant will arguably have to initiate the evaluation process because electronics technician often is a viable goal in California (it might be a very short evaluation if the only schools available in Oklahoma City are 18 months long). The QIW needs to do more than raise his/her hand - but they do not need to present a laundry list of the details for the proposed goal.

A second question concerned VR plans in Mexico (Central America). It is unlikely the plans proposed for QIW's who want self-employment in their home countries could be developed here in California; the costs often would exceed $16,000 here and many of those requesting such plans are undocumented and would not be entitled to a self-employment plan in California. Out of country self-employment plans are often denied on those bases.

In my view, denying such proposals may not be a good financial decision. If the QIW employee remains in California, it is likely the defendant will pay approximately $16,000 for a training program the employee doesn't really want. Mexico self-employment plans, on the other hand, frequently cost in the $12,000 - $14,000 range. The plan usually calls for an investment of a portion of the QIW employee's PD, which means the employee is motivated to settle his/her case promptly.

Common sense dictates that the defendant should evaluate the out of country plan proposal as much for its potential benefit to the carrier/employer as for the injured employee.

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

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