Nebraska Revised Statutes Chapter 48. Labor § 48-162.01. Employees;  rehabilitation services;  directory of service providers, counselors, and specialists;  vocational rehabilitation plan;  priorities;  Attorney General;  duties;  compensation court;  powers;  duties

(1) One of the primary purposes of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act is restoration of the injured employee to gainful employment. To this end the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court may employ one or more specialists in vocational rehabilitation. Salaries, other benefits, and administrative expenses incurred by the compensation court for purposes of vocational rehabilitation shall be paid from the Compensation Court Cash Fund.

(2) Vocational rehabilitation specialists employed by the court shall continuously study the problems of vocational rehabilitation and shall maintain a directory of individual service providers, counselors, and specialists which have been approved by the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court. The compensation court may approve as qualified such individual service providers, counselors, and specialists as are capable of rendering competent vocational rehabilitation services to injured employees. No individual service provider, counselor, or specialist shall be considered qualified to provide vocational rehabilitation services to injured employees unless he or she has satisfied the standards for certification established by the compensation court and has been certified by the compensation court.

(3) When as a result of the injury an employee is unable to perform suitable work for which he or she has previous training or experience, he or she is entitled to such vocational rehabilitation services, including job placement and training, as may be reasonably necessary to restore him or her to suitable employment. Vocational rehabilitation training costs shall be paid from the Workers' Compensation Trust Fund. When vocational rehabilitation training requires residence at or near a facility or institution away from the employee's customary residence, whether within or without this state, the reasonable costs of his or her board, lodging, and travel shall be paid from the Workers' Compensation Trust Fund.

If entitlement to vocational rehabilitation services is claimed by the employee, the employee and the employer or his or her insurer shall attempt to agree on the choice of a vocational rehabilitation counselor from the directory of vocational rehabilitation counselors established pursuant to subsection (2) of this section. If they are unable to agree on a vocational rehabilitation counselor, the employee or employer or his or her insurer shall notify the compensation court, and a vocational rehabilitation specialist of the compensation court shall select a counselor from the directory of vocational rehabilitation counselors established pursuant to subsection (2) of this section. Only one such vocational rehabilitation counselor may provide vocational rehabilitation services at any one time, and any change in the choice of a vocational rehabilitation counselor shall be approved by a vocational rehabilitation specialist or judge of the compensation court. The vocational rehabilitation counselor so chosen or selected shall evaluate the employee and, if necessary, develop and implement a vocational rehabilitation plan. Any such plan shall be evaluated by a vocational rehabilitation specialist of the compensation court and approved by such specialist or a judge of the compensation court prior to implementation. In evaluating a plan the specialist shall make an independent determination as to whether the proposed plan is likely to result in suitable employment for the injured employee that is consistent with the priorities listed in this subsection. It is a rebuttable presumption that any vocational rehabilitation plan developed by such vocational rehabilitation counselor and approved by a vocational rehabilitation specialist of the compensation court is an appropriate form of vocational rehabilitation. The fee for the evaluation and for the development and implementation of the vocational rehabilitation plan shall be paid by the employer or his or her workers' compensation insurer. The compensation court may establish a fee schedule for services rendered by a vocational rehabilitation counselor. Any loss-of-earning-power evaluation performed by a vocational rehabilitation counselor shall be performed by a counselor from the directory established pursuant to subsection (2) of this section and chosen or selected according to the procedures described in this subsection. It is a rebuttable presumption that any opinion expressed as the result of such a loss-of-earning-power evaluation is correct.

The following priorities shall be used in developing and evaluating a vocational rehabilitation plan. No higher priority may be utilized unless all lower priorities have been determined by the vocational rehabilitation counselor and a vocational rehabilitation specialist or judge of the compensation court to be unlikely to result in suitable employment for the injured employee that is consistent with the priorities listed in this subsection. If a lower priority is clearly inappropriate for the employee, the next higher priority shall be utilized. The priorities are, listed in order from lower to higher priority:

(a) Return to the previous job with the same employer;

(b) Modification of the previous job with the same employer;

(c) A new job with the same employer;

(d) A job with a new employer;  or

(e) A period of formal training which is designed to lead to employment in another career field.

(4) The compensation court may cooperate on a reciprocal basis with federal and state agencies for vocational rehabilitation services or with any public or private agency.

(5) The Attorney General, when requested by the administrator of the compensation court, may file a motion pursuant to section 48-162.03 regarding any issue related to vocational rehabilitation services or costs pursuant to this section. The Attorney General shall be considered a party for purposes of such motion. The Attorney General may initiate an original action before the compensation court or may intervene in a pending action and become a party to the litigation. Any such motion shall be heard by a judge of the compensation court other than the presiding judge.

(6) An employee who has suffered an injury covered by the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act is entitled to prompt physical and medical rehabilitation services. If physical or medical rehabilitation services are not voluntarily offered and accepted, the compensation court or any judge thereof on its or his or her own motion, or upon application of the employee or employer, and after affording the parties an opportunity to be heard by the compensation court or judge thereof, may refer the employee to a facility, institution, physician, or other individual service provider capable of rendering competent physical or medical rehabilitation services for evaluation and report of the practicability of, need for, and kind of service or treatment necessary and appropriate to render him or her fit for a remunerative occupation, and the costs of such evaluation and report involving physical or medical rehabilitation shall be borne by the employer or his or her workers' compensation insurer. Upon receipt of such report and after affording the parties an opportunity to be heard, the compensation court or judge thereof may order that the physical or medical services and treatment recommended in the report or other necessary physical or medical rehabilitation treatment or service be provided at the expense of the employer or his or her workers' compensation insurer.

When physical or medical rehabilitation requires residence at or near the facility or institution away from the employee's customary residence, whether within or without this state, the reasonable costs of his or her board, lodging, and travel shall be paid for by the employer or his or her workers' compensation insurer in addition to any other benefits payable under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act, including weekly compensation benefits for temporary disability.

(7) If the injured employee without reasonable cause refuses to undertake or fails to cooperate with a physical, medical, or vocational rehabilitation program determined by the compensation court or judge thereof to be suitable for him or her or refuses to be evaluated under subsection (3) or (6) of this section or fails to cooperate in such evaluation, the compensation court or judge thereof may suspend, reduce, or limit the compensation otherwise payable under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act. The compensation court or judge thereof may also modify a previous finding, order, award, or judgment relating to physical, medical, or vocational rehabilitation services as necessary in order to accomplish the goal of restoring the injured employee to gainful and suitable employment, or as otherwise required in the interest of justice.


FindLaw Codes are provided courtesy of Thomson Reuters Westlaw, the industry-leading online legal research system. For more detailed codes research information, including annotations and citations, please visit Westlaw.

FindLaw Codes may not reflect the most recent version of the law in your jurisdiction. Please verify the status of the code you are researching with the state legislature or via Westlaw before relying on it for your legal needs.