RTW Step 5: The Payoff

By Bob Cogburn, Vocational Rehabilitation Case Manager

By Bob Cogburn,
Vocational Rehabilitation
Case Manager

The first four installments of this series laid the groundwork for bringing injured employees back to the team. You learned how to:

   Put your return-to-work program in writing

   Assess job tasks

   Identify modified duty

   Communicate with the doctor, the injured worker and your adjuster

All of your planning, analyzing and documenting pays off in step five, when you make a bona fide offer of employment.

To be considered valid, your offer must comply with Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) Rule 129.6. In evaluating your offer, the DWC considers:

  • How long the job is expected to last
  • How long you kept the offer open
  • The way you made the offer to the employee
  • The job’s physical requirements and accommodations compared to the employee’s
    physical capabilities
  • The distance the employee has to travel to get to work (A job is accessible if it is
    within a reasonable distance of where the employee lives, unless the employee shows
    through medical evidence that a medical condition won’t allow the employee to travel
    that distance.)

When you are ready to make a bona fide offer of employment, keep these things in mind:

  • The offer must be in writing. Page 41 of Texas Mutual’s free Return-to-Work Kit includes a sample bona fide offer letter.
  • Send the offer certified mail so someone has to sign for it.
  • The job must comply with the injured worker’s restrictions as specified by the doctor. Ask the doctor to complete DWC Form-73, Work Status Report. The information will help you identify alternative productive work that meets the employee’s restrictions.
  • If the injured worker refuses a bona fide offer of employment, your insurance carrier might reduce or suspend the worker’s benefits.

A workplace safety program is the best way to prevent the human and monetary costs of on-the-job injuries. But nobody can predict when an accident will happen or how serious it will be. If you invest in a return-to-work program, you can minimize the costs of accidents for you and your injured workers.

Get reimbursed for your return-to-work efforts

If you are a small employer in Texas, you may be eligible for the DWC return-to-work reimbursement program. The program reimburses you for money you spend to bring injured employees back to work or keep them at work.

About the author

Bob Cogburn has nearly 25 years’ experience in vocational case management. Since 1997, he has been helping injured workers covered by a Texas Mutual® policy rehabilitate and return to productive employment. Prior to joining Texas Mutual, Bob served as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the Department of Assistive Rehabilitation Services. He also spent time as a job placement counselor for Goodwill Industries and El Centro College. At El Centro, he managed a job club specializing in placing students with disabilities back into the workplace. Bob holds a bachelor’s in rehabilitation science from the University of Texas Health Science Center and a master’s in counseling from Amberton University.

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