Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Experience matters. Both individually and collectively, the staff at Single Handed Consulting have spent decades immersed in every aspect of worker’s compensation case management – we know how to best move the process along and get injured employees back to work as quickly and painlessly as possible.
"When someone refers a claim to us, we’ve been that person. We know what they need and what the expectations are.” – Founder and Co-owner Kevin Leneker
Single Handed provides strategic consulting services to both employers and employees, including regular communication with case managers from the Department of Labor & Industries and medical teams. Our proactive approach helps businesses and third-party administrators save thousands of dollars along the way, while getting employees back on the job or retrained for work that suits their needs and interests. We focus on the best possible outcome for everyone involved and know the steps to make that happen.
Time is the enemy of disability management. The longer an injured worker is away from their job, the less likely they are to return. Knowing this, Single Handed takes a strong proactive approach, providing employers, employees and medical staff with current, accurate information while empowering employees to take charge of their own recoveries.
When our disability case managers get a referral, they review the claim carefully, looking for any barriers to the employee returning to work that can be removed.
Often, the most serious issues in disability case management services involve communication, particularly a lack of shared information among employer, employee, and the medical team assisting in the claims process. Such issues, while common, can delay or even completely block the process, creating extra costs for employers and extra stress for employees. That’s why our first step in disability management services often involves clarifying communication among all parties.
The process also involves assessment of the worker’s current capacity along with an inventory of their regular job responsibilities. Ideally, the employee will be able to return to their job of injury with the same employer.
If modifications are necessary, our certified disability management specialist will explore the potential for light duty options with the employer. This might happen in phases, with rehabilitation a key part of the return-to-work plan.
When returning to the job of injury is out of the question, the next step will be looking for ways the employee can stay with the same company in a different role, based on previous work experience, also known as ‘transferable skills’. Such a role may also require job modification.
The final option is retraining. If an employee cannot return to their original job, even with modification, and the company has no other potential roles available, they will be trained for work in another field based on transferable skills.
For employers, the top priority is effectively running their business, and many lack the time and resources to focus on ways to get injured employees back to work. However, failing to address the issue can lead to unfortunate consequences down the road, particularly in terms of cost.
At Single Handed, we know that making contact and getting started on claims early saves employers substantial amounts of money in time loss compensation, retraining costs and medical expenses. Our vocational rehab counselors kickstart the claims process to get injured employees back on the job sooner.
Single Handed vocational consultants steer employers through the claims process, providing guidance on ways to lower their L&I premiums by reducing their risk factor classifications. We also help employers understand and access programs through L&I specifically designed for injured workers. The Stay at Work and Preferred Worker programs are excellent resources for companies who know how to use them.
By starting the process early and returning an injured employee to work rather than hiring someone new, employers save significantly. Studies have found that people who are off work for more than six months are 50% less likely to return to their jobs. Replacing them, however, is expensive. According to studies, it costs 1.5 times the original salary to replace an experienced worker. In a case where an employee makes $50,000 per year, that would mean $75,000. Through using Single Handed’s vocational rehabilitation services, employers can avoid or mitigate those costs.
Legal and Forensic Evaluation
In some cases, the workers’ compensation claims process can drag out for years with vocational rehab counselors offering conflicting recommendations. When that happens, there may be a request for a legal and forensic evaluation. This request may come from several sources: L&I, an employer, or an attorney working on behalf of either the employer or employee. Employers may have questions about the validity of certain aspects of the claim or want reassurance before moving forward with filing a lawsuit or issuing a protest.
When employers ask for an expert review, it’s often because they have a concern about some aspect of the claim. They may be considering filing a lawsuit or protesting a decision, but before they do so, they want to make sure they have a legitimate case. An expert opinion from Single Handed Consulting that everything was done correctly can leave no room for litigation.
Reviewers conduct an extensive exam of the entire claim, looking for errors or places where further inquiry might have led to a different result. They never actually meet with the injured worker.
Once the review is complete, evaluators submit a report to L&I with one of two potential results: upholding previous recommendations or suggesting new directions, both medically and vocationally, for the injured worker. From there, L&I decides what happens next.
Ideally, every injured worker would be able to return to their original job, but unfortunately that’s not always possible. Ergonomic evaluations may find that certain job functions are no longer within the employee’s capacity.
When medical personnel have ruled out the job of injury, vocational testing is designed to identify the employee’s aptitudes, interests, and academic levels. Vocational counselors will also explore previous work experience as a factor in determining what job the worker will be retrained for. Employers, meanwhile, save money that would otherwise be spent on time loss compensation.
For employees, attempting to navigate the testing process on their own can be intimidating. Single Handed’s vocational counselors provide support and guidance to ensure that injured workers end up in jobs where they can thrive rather than just get by. Once the testing is complete, the next steps may include working toward a GED degree, trade certification, or Associate’s Degree.
Areas We Serve
Single Handed Consulting is based in Olympia, Washington and serves clients throughout the state. Fortunately for our clients, Washington’s L&I is one of the most forward-thinking departments in the nation, recently launching a Vocational Recovery Campaign that has already achieved dramatic results. One outcome: Washington State vocational rehab claims are likely to be processed quicker and save employers money - approximately $2 billion in the pilot project alone.
Though many of our customers operate within the Puget Sound corridor, others are east of the Cascades or in Southern Washington. Whether you’re a large company, mid-sized business, state or local government entity or third-party administrator, Single Handed has the capacity to serve Washington State’s vocational rehabilitation needs.