(On-the-Job Injury or Illness)
A unique service of the Workers' Compensation Board is provided by Social Workers. When a worker becomes disabled through an industrial accident or occupational disease, the impact can be devastating for the worker and the family. The combination of stresses, permanent disability and changed social, financial or personal roles can overwhelm the claimant. When these problems occur, Social Workers are available to discuss the changes that have occurred since the accident and explore possible solutions.
Family interactions can be affected because of disability, pain or financial pressures. Social Workers can work with the family to understand the changes and help members come to accept their changed roles. When short term counseling is not indicated or the problem proves more difficult, referrals are made to appropriate, affordable agencies.
The Social Worker will assess the problem and try to find a solution. In non-controverted cases, the Social Worker will often talk to the carrier to try to obtain needed benefits. He or she will also:
- Negotiate with landlords, utility companies and other creditors to work out a realistic payment plan,
- Try to forestall any actions against the claimant until any outstanding issues are adjudicated.
- Make referrals to community agencies such as Public Assistance, Food Stamps, emergency shelter, soup kitchens, food pantries, drop-in-centers, for assistance.
- Help the claimant draw up a realistic budget to handle their reduced income.
Cases where language or other difficulties suggest that a claimant may not fully understand his or her rights can be referred to Social Services for assistance. The Social Worker will attempt to explain to the claimant the status of his or her case and identify problems that are preventing the case from moving forward.
At the request of a W. C. Law Judge, the Social Worker evaluates awards to minors and makes a recommendation to the Judge on whom the award should be paid to. On all awards to minors, Social Workers monitor the use of such awards to ensure that the payments are solely for the use and benefit of the minor. Assistance on budgeting and vocational preparation is also provided to the minor as needed.
In order to help injured workers to return to work, Social Workers will team with the Bureau's Rehabilitation Counselors to look at social, environmental, vocational and medical barriers that are hindering a successful return to work, and steps will be taken to help remove these barriers.
Other services provided by Social Workers are:
- Handle claimants who cannot be handled through normal Board operations.
- Advocacy on behalf of workers with disabilities.
- Provide assistance in obtaining proper medical care.
- Arrange for home or convalescent care.
- Intercede with WCB staff to expedite cases.
- Locate dependents in Death Cases.
- Evaluate C-22 Non-Schedule Award Lump Sum requests on referral from Board.
- Assist occupational disease claimants by obtaining medical and/or employment records.
All services provided are kept confidential, provided at no cost and are available to all claimants and their families. Referrals can be made by any party-of-interest to the case. Requests for services can be made by calling, visiting or writing to the Social Service Unit in the nearest Board Office. Referrals should always include name, WCB number, social security number, telephone number and reason for referral. If no WCB number is available, also needed is the date of accident, type of injury and employer of record. If there is no telephone number, the claimant's mailing address is needed.