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Posted on: Apr 2, 2018

California's Return-to-Work Supplement Program (RTWSP) is a benefit which was created with the passage of Senate Bill 863 for injured workers whose permanent disability benefits are disproportionately low in comparison to their earnings loss.
The program was to be funded at $120 million per year and provides a one-time $5,000 payment to workers who cannot return to their at injury employment following a workplace injury.
The eligibility criteria to apply is simple-- any worker who has an injury on or after 1/1/2013 and receives a Supplemental Job Displacement Voucher may apply.
The application process-- not so simple. A scanner is required and navigation of an online application which is difficult to find on the DIR website must be used.
It took over three years for any type of notice to be provided to workers of their eligibility to apply for the Return to Work Supplement on the Supplemental Job Displacement Voucher form.
Now RAND has issued a new study on the Return to Work Fund...they found that "...compared to other permanently disabled workers, Return-to-Work Supplement recipients are a particularly vulnerable group on average. They come from lower-wage jobs with a higher risk of turnover, live in communities where they could face higher barriers to accessing support, and tend to experience more severe injuries with longer durations."
RAND also found that "...only 50 to 55 percent of eligible workers applied for and received the Return-to-Work Supplement...the fact that legal representation is such an important predictor of take-up strongly suggests that unrepresented workers are finding it difficult to comprehend or navigate the RTWSP alone..." or to even know about the benefit.
RAND is recommending an automatic process for payment of the Return to Work benefit to increase access to and delivery of the RTWSP.
CAAA advocated for an automatic process from the beginning of the rulemaking process with the DIR.
Senate Bill 863 passed in Fall 2012...5 ½ years ago. The DIR is just now talking about doing some "outreach".

WARNING: TEMPORARILY isn't only the machines that are broken in this system.