Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Benefits In California

In Sierra Vista Hospital v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (1985) 50 Cal.Comp.Cases 208, the employee was injured in 1977, and in 1981 the rehabilitation bureau issued an order which stated because rehabilitation services would not be productive it was suspending benefits until March 3, 1982, and administratively closing the file. "The decision and order also stated that at any time during or after the suspension the employee could seek reinstatement by informing the Bureau . . . of her desire to return to active participation in rehabilitation." (Ibid., italics added.) In 1984, the employee requested reinstatement of the rehabilitation program. The rehabilitation bureau ordered her employer to provide rehabilitation benefits even though the request was more than five years after the employee's injury. (Ibid.) The bureau stated it considered the suspension a "mere taking the case off calendar." (Ibid.) the appellate court denied the writ. (Id. at p. 209.) Superficially, Sierra Vista bears some resemblance to the present case. In both cases, following an initial request for rehabilitation services, the services were interrupted. In both cases the employee requested a reinstatement of benefits more than five years after the date of injury and more than one year after the last finding of disability. However, the nature of the interruption differs greatly in the two cases. In Sierra Vista, the order suspending benefits stated that "at any time during or after the suspension" the employee could seek reinstatement of a rehabilitation program, evincing the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board's desire to retain jurisdiction over the award of benefits. In contrast, the suspension in the present case expired by its own terms on a date certain and contained no provision allowing the employee to seek reinstatement following the suspension.