Lump Sum Buy-Out Option for Vocational Rehabilitation

In the State of Nevada, an injured worker may choose to accept a lump sum buy-out (LSBO) instead of re-training if qualified to receive vocational rehabilitation. While this LSBO may be a good option for certain people it is not always the best choice. Once the LSBO payment has been made, the worker is no longer entitled to any type of vocational rehabilitation on the claim under Nevada law, even if the worker’s medical condition becomes worse. In many cases, it is much more beneficial for the injured worker to participate in a re-training program rather than accepting a lump sum buy-out.

Reasons an Injured Worker May Take a Lump Sum Buyout

There are times when an injured employee may not benefit from participating in a vocational rehabilitation program. For this reason, Nevada law allows the option of a lump sum buy-out payment that workers may choose instead of attending a qualifying re-training program. While there are many individual reasons as to why a worker might choose to have a LSBO option over training for a new job, there are a few common reasons as to why a worker might prefer a monetary payment to rehabilitation:

  • • The worker may not wish to attend any of the qualifying programs;
  • • The employee is exhausted from the workers compensation process, no longer wishes to deal with the adjuster, and just wishes to finally be completed with the claim;
  • • The worker is elderly or only expects to be able to work a few more years and does not wish to learn a completely new line of work, especially one that would typically involve computers;
  • • The worker feels confident that they can obtain employment without the new training because of skills learned in the past;
  • • The vocational rehabilitation counselor feels that the worker will not perform well in the type of class or school-type setting offered by qualifying programs, typically based on testing done by the counselor.

How the Lump Sum Buy-Out Payment is Determined

The LSBO payment is calculated based on how much re-training an injured worker is qualified to receive. Under Nevada workers compensation guidelines, the amount of vocational rehabilitation a worker may receive is based on the partial permanent disability (PPD) percentage that was determined by the rating physician. This PPD percentage determines the length of time the injured employee may attend a qualifying re-training program as follows:

  • • Workers with a PPD that ranges from 1 percent to 5 percent are entitled to 9 months of qualified training;
  • • Workers with a PPD that ranges from 6 percent through 10 percent may receive training that lasts up to 12 months;
  • • Workers whose injuries rate a PPD of 11 percent or more are eligible to receive up to 18 months of training.

To make a LSBO payment offer, the insurer will take the length of time that a qualifying job-training program would last based on the injured worker’s PPD and add up the total of the biweekly payments that the worker would receive during that time period. The insurer then takes 40 percent of that total amount to make the minimum LSBO offer allowable by Nevada law.

Getting More than the Minimum Lump Sum Buy-Out Payment

The 40 percent used to make a LSBO payment offer is the minimum that workers are entitled to under Nevada workers compensation guidelines. There are times when a higher offer may be made. If the insurer believes that the injured employee will choose a more expensive re-training program option, the insurer may offer an amount that is higher than the 40 percent minimum in order to encourage the employee to choose the LSBO payment rather than attend the more expensive training program. There are some cases where the insurer and the employer may be generous and simply wish to make a higher offer of a LSBO payment to a very good worker who was seriously injured while on the job. At the very least, an injured employee should ask for a LBSO payment amount that is greater than the 40 percent minimum because it does not hurt the worker either way in asking for a larger amount and it might actually result in a higher LBSO payment offer.

What Happens after the Lump Sum Buy-Out Is Accepted?

Once a worker accepts a LSBO payment, this is the end of any vocational rehabilitation offered by workers compensation. The worker will no longer be eligible for any type of training program offered by workers compensations for the claim in the future, even if the claim ever needs to be re-opened in order for the worker to receive additional medical care. If the worker’s injury worsens over time, requiring more medical care or additional surgeries, this may result in even more limitations for work. However, payments of benefits will cease once the worker is released with the new permanent work restrictions and there will be no additional chance for training if the worker had accepted a LSBO payment.

Re-Training Program Considerations Instead of Taking the Lump Sum Buy-Out

While the loss of future potential vocational training benefits may be a concern, there are other factors to consider as well when considering a LSBO payment over vocational training. In the long run, it is worth a lot more to participate in any of the training programs offered, especially if the worker will need some type of re-training program in order to obtain sufficient employment in the future. There are many benefits to choosing to attend a training program over accepting a LSBO payment, some of which include the following:

  • • Training programs cost much more than the LSBO payment;
  • • In addition to coursework, the cost of books and supplies is also covered as a part of the training;
  • • There is a reimbursement for some of the mileage necessary to attend the training program;
  • • The worker receives bi-weekly payment checks during the entire time period that the training program lasts;
  • • The worker continues to receive payments for 4 weeks following the completion of the training program so that the worker can search for another job.

Legal Resources for Lump Sum Buy-Out Options

The attorneys at the Morris / Anderson Law Firm can help injured workers with all aspects of their workers compensation claim, including vocational rehabilitation and lump sum buy-out options. Sometimes it can help to have a third party take a look at the important factors to consider before choosing between a re-training program and a LSBO, and the attorneys at the law firm of Morris / Anderson have the qualifications and experience necessary to help you make the decision most beneficial for your future.

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