California Workers’ Compensation Retraining Vouchers

California Workers’ Compensation Retraining Vouchers
Wiesner English, P.C.

What is the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit (SJDB) retraining Voucher

A retraining voucher (formally a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit or SJDB Voucher) is designed to help injured workers retrain for different careers or positions. It is not required in every case. It’s designed to cover the costs of retraining (within limits) if an injury causes lasting work restrictions and an employer cannot (or does not) offer work within those restrictions.

How to get the Voucher

Entitlement to the retraining voucher is something that’s addressed closer to the end of a case. First, an injured worker need to be found medically stable with work limitations. The doctor making that finding should complete a particular form (though this is not strictly necessary under Opus One Labs v. WCAB (Fndkyan) (2019) 84 Cal. Comp. Cases 634). Then the defendant-employer gets 60 days (from service of the form from the doctor) to make a compliant offer of regular, modified, alternative work. (8 CCR § 10133.31, subd. (b).) If the defendant-employer fails to do that, then a retraining voucher should issue within 20 days. (8 CCR § 10133.31, subd. (d))

How to use a Voucher

The retraining voucher works like a certificate; it’s redeemable for retraining but has no “cash” value. For any injury after January 1, 2013, the voucher can be used for up to $6,000 in retraining or a combination of retraining, tools, misc. expenses, or retraining counseling within certain limits (detailed in the voucher itself).

The state runs a supplement program (the Return-to-Work Supplement Program) for vouchers relating to dates of injury after 1/1/2013. (Labor Code § 139.48.) Those vouchers look like this. That state supplement pays $5,000. (8 CCR § 17308.) The additional $5,000 can be requested regardless of whether you or how much of the voucher is used for retraining.

There is a State online form for applying for the $5,000 supplement once a voucher is received (the state asks for a scan of the voucher). There are a few pages of questions (mostly demographics). Any claim specific questions should be printed on the voucher or other claims paperwork. They do ask for the case docket number associated with a claim. The docket number is the number starting with “ADJ” on legal paperwork.The State’s instructions on how to fill the form on this site.

Information on schools required to accept the voucher can be found here and a more direct link to the relevant CalJOBS search here. You can also go through a retraining counselor and can find a full list of them here.

Please note a post-1/1/2013 Voucher must be used within two years issuing (the date on the proof of service) or five years of date of injury, whichever is later. (8 CCR § 10133.31, subd. (g).) The State $5,000 Supplement must be requested within one year of the voucher issuing. (8 CCR § 17304.)

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