If you are receiving workers' compensation benefits the insurance company may tell you that it wants you to meet with a "vocational counselor." They may even tell you that the vocational counselor will help you to get back to work. You should know that a vocational counselor hired by the workers' compensation insurance carrier is NOT interested in helping you get back to work. Rather, the vocational counselor is working for the insurance carrier with one goal in mind - stopping your workers' compensation benefits.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania law dictates that, in most cases, an injured worker can not refuse to meet with a vocational counselor. However, the injured worker does have the right to have his/her attorney present when he/she meets with the vocational counselor. At Abes Baumann, we do not allow our clients to meet with vocational counselors unless we are present as well. Usually, the mere presence of an attorney is sufficient to prevent vocational counselors from askng questions that are overly broad or simply too personal. Nonetheless, if such questions are asked, we refuse to allow our clients to answer them. We also insist, prior to the time of the meeting, that the vocational counselor clearly state the reasons why he/she was retained by the insurance carrier.
There are a small percentage of cases in which the insurance carrier may NOT be able to force an injured work to meet with its vocational counselor. For instance, if the insurance carrier has had multiple vocational interviews in the past, and the injured worker hasn't returned to work to since the last interview, the insurance carrier may not be able to compel another interview. Whether or not your insurance carrier can have you examined by a vocational expert requires a careful review of the facts in your case.
We have the best opportunity to protect your benefits when we are involved in your case at the earliest possible time. Therefore, if your insurance carrier has told you that you must meet with a vocational counselor, please call us at once at 412-228-4786. You should also be aware that we do NOT charge any sort of fee for speaking with you on the phone or for meeting with you and the vocational counselor.