In disability management, time is not on anyone’s side. The more weeks and even months that go by without action, the less likely it is that an injured worker will return to their job. The Single Handed approach is to provide everyone involved with current, accurate information and inspire employees to become a driving force behind their own recoveries.
“When too much time has passed, employees lose focus on getting back to work and are just waiting for someone to call,” says Scott Busz, a Certified Disability Management Specialist at Single Handed Consulting. “We try to light a fire and get them involved in the recovery process.”
Effective Disability Management: Getting Employers and Third-Party Administrators the Information They Need
When Single Handed gets a referral, our staff reviews the claim with an eye toward streamlining the process and removing any barriers toward returning an employee to work that might exist.
“We look at the whole claim, including interactions between the claims manager and the doctor, and get a feel for any walls that are up that don’t need to be,” says Busz. “The most glaring issue I try to fix is underinformed workers, employers, and sometimes even medical professionals.”
Such lack of information is not surprising. Employers are focused on running a business and employees are concerned about their livelihoods, meaning that neither is familiar enough with the claims process to understand how it functions. Medical professionals are busy with multiple cases and getting everyone on the same page for effective disability management takes communication.
“We have a lot of contact with doctors and employers and generally talk to injured workers a couple of times a month if not every week,” says Busz.
Ongoing interaction allows our staff to see where challenges can be minimized. “We resolve problems that aren’t really problems,” says Busz. “Some things are there because the worker or employer doesn’t know the system as well as someone who works with it all the time.”
When third-party administrators from outside of Washington State get involved with claims, they may not know the regulations that operate locally, such as needing Department of Labor approval for a worker to return to light duty. Single Handed specialists can help them navigate the process and avoid missteps that cost both time and money.
Getting Employees the Information They Need
When it comes to disability management, the first step in empowering employees is educating them about how and where they can gain more knowledge about their claims. Specialists like Busz explain the process and answer questions. “We give them examples they can remember and tools so they can become their own advocates,” he says.
When clients need clarification on other issues surrounding a case, SHC encourages communication. “We tell people it’s okay to make phone calls and write letters if you have questions,” says Busz. “Often, the people they’re dealing with may expect them to know things already or be unaware that they don’t know certain information.”
Attorneys assigned to a case can also provide valuable advice or resources for employees. “It’s one more place they can get information from a third party that’s not directly involved,” says Busz. Many employees also don’t realize that they can look up their claims online.
Identifying Next Steps
Worker assessments are an important part of disability management. Depending on the outcome, we help employees prepare to return to work or make the transition into the next phase of their lives. “Each person is different,” says Busz. “Some have dream jobs, others don’t know what else they can do. We give them structure, help them identify a job, and make sure that they can physically and psychologically do that job.”
For some, the next step may be a rehabilitation plan, retraining or taking a pension. “Mainly, you have to exhaust every option and ask the right questions of the doctors,” says Busz. “Make sure the information you have is accurate and current.”
Motivating Injured Workers
Even when it’s temporary, being unable to work is generally stressful and frightening, especially for those who have families to support. But employees who get involved in their recoveries have better results and feel more empowered throughout the process. “We explain that most of the recovery is attitude and wanting to get better,” says Busz. “We’re trying to give these people power and control over their own lives.”
Setting goals and celebrating every achievement, no matter how small, is one of the most important parts of disability management. “We help them put structure into their recovery, sometimes through baby steps,” Busz explains. “Each little victory brings confidence and makes them feel good about themselves. I always tell people, ‘This is my job but it’s your life.’”
Learn more about how we at Single Handed Consulting can help you by contacting us today.