A Telephone Call Is a Request For VOC.

A recent case has dealt with die formalities of a request for vocational rehabilitation services.  The appellate court found a mere telephone call was sufficient to start services and beat the time deadline.

Labor Code section 5405.5 states mat your request for vocational rehabilitation benefits pursuant to Section 139.5 must be made by request within one year of the last finding of P.D. or the approval of a C & R In this case the last finding of P.D. was March 1, 1993. The applicant made a telephone call on February 22, 1994 requesting vocational rehabilitation Defendant’s argued a telephone call was not a request. The Court analyzed Rule 9813 (b) which states that the claims administrator must provide the applicant with a notice that informs the applicant how to apply for vocational rehabilitation.  It states this can be by telephone.

The Court further analyzed Section 5410 which deals with instituting proceedings within 5 years from the collection of compensation because this injury was from September 1983 to September 1984.

The Court analyzed several prior cases in making its determination mat “..we see nothing in section 5405.5 which would require a filing with the rehabilitation unit (or “bureau”), or a filing with the appeals board, in order for there to be a “request” for vocational rehabilitation benefits.” The court specifically stated that you do not need to make a written request since the rules do not state that the request must be in writing.

The court citing three previous cases stated mat a request for vocational rehabilitation more than five years from the date of injury but less than one year from the last finding of permanent disability was satisfactory.  The court decided ft did not have to reach the issue of whether marking “Rehabilitation” on the Application for Adjudication of Claims constituted a timely request for vocational rehabilitation benefits. The court in a footnote cited Vasquez v.  W.C.A.B which held mat checking the box for rehabilitation on the application for adjudication of claim was sufficient to constitute a request and toll the statute of limitations. Do not forget that on the new post 1993 Applications for Adjudication in paragraph 9 there is a box to check for Rehabilitation.

The major thing to remember from this is mat a simple telephone call by the applicant or the applicant’s attorney is sufficient for a “request” to constitute vocational rehabilitation benefits. The question is will this be a Pandoras Box in making other determinations mat can become sufficient merely by making a telephone call without written documentation.

Case: Visalia School District V. W.C.A.B.

Harvey Brown
3501 Jamboree Rd. Suite 602
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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