Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month with positive action.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign held each October to raise awareness regarding disability and employment issues. It was established by the United States Congress in 1945. The theme for 2014 is “Expect. Employ. Empower.”
Our disabled clients face many challenges when attempting to return to gainful employment. These include discrimination and higher unemployment rates. Most people simply want a chance to be productive and earn a living.
Certified Vocationally Handicapped Workers
A little used provision in Michigan’s workers compensation law allows employers to hire individuals suffering from specific disabilities and limit the amount of exposure to 52 weeks of workers compensation should an injury occur. The Second Injury Fund assumes all responsibility for the remainder of benefits. This gives employers a powerful incentive to take a chance on a disabled worker.
“Vocationally disabled” means a person who has a medically certifiable impairment of the back or heart, or who is subject to epilepsy, or who has diabetes, and whose impairment is a substantial obstacle to employment, considering such factors as the person’s age, education, training, experience, and employment rejection.
Certification from Michigan Rehabilitation Services is required. Only unemployed individuals who are new hires will qualify.
Unfortunately, changes in the mid 1990s have made this process more difficult. An employer must now certify that it refused to hire the worker because of his or her disability. This requirement raises all kinds of legal and ethical concerns.
We need to make hiring of disabled workers a greater priority in Michigan. This is especially true now that insurance companies are allowed to automatically reduce wage loss benefits if a person is just “partially” disabled.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by groundswell.