Understanding California's supplemental job displacement benefit
 Dec. 3, 2013

From time to time we receive questions about benefits available for injured workers who are unable to return to the job after a work related injury. In January 2004, California transitioned from Vocational Rehabilitation to the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit (SJDB). The SJDB is used to cover the cost of helping injured workers enhance their job skills or even retrain for a new position. The conditions associated with the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit changed effective 1/1/13 with the changes to Labor Code section 4658. The table below contrasts the benefit for injuries before and after 1/1/13.

 

Employees injured between 1/1/2004 and 12/31/2012

Employees injured on or after 1/1/2013

What is the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit (SJDB) voucher?

Employees who are permanently unable to do their usual job, and whose employer does not offer other work, may qualify for the SJDB. The benefit is a non-transferable voucher that can be used to pay for educational retraining or skill enhancement, or both. These must take place at a state-approved or state-accredited school. The voucher covers school tuition, fees, books and expenses required by the school for training. The amount of the voucher varies from $4,000 to $10,000, depending on the permanent disability level.

Employees who are permanently unable to do their usual job, and whose employer does not offer other work, may also qualify for the SJDB voucher. But, the voucher amount is $6,000 for all permanent disability ratings and can be used for training at a California public school or any other provider listed on the state's eligible training provider list. It can also be used to pay licensing or certification and testing fees, to purchase tools required by a training course, to purchase computer equipment of up to $1,000 and to reimburse up to $500 in miscellaneous expenses.

When is the SJDB provided to the injured worker?

The voucher is offered to an injured worker when his or her Permanent Disability (PD) level has been determined, either by way of an agreement between the worker and the employer or insurance company or by way of an award by a workers' compensation judge.

The voucher is due 60 days after a treating doctor, agreed medical evaluator (AME), or qualified medical evaluator (QME) declares the injured worker permanent and stationary, and issues a report outlining the worker's work capacities and the employer does not offer the injured worker a job. The job must pay no less than 85 percent of the worker's earnings at the time of the injury, and must be expected to last at least 12 months.

What happens if the employer offers permanent employment and the employee declines?

f the employer sends a Notice of Offer of Modified or Alternative Work within 30 days of the last temporary disability (TD) payment and the offer meets certain requirements, and the employee doesn't accept the job, the employee is not eligible for the voucher. The offer of modified or alternative work must meet the following conditions:

  • The employee is able to perform the essential job functions
  • The job is a regular position lasting at least 12 months
  • The job offers wages and compensation that are at least 85 percent of those paid to employee at the time of their injury
  • The job is located within reasonable commuting distance of the employee's residence at the time of injury.

If the employer makes an offer of regular, modified, or alternative work within 60 days after receipt by the claims administrator of the Physician's Return-to-Work & Voucher Report and the offer meets certain requirements and the employee doesn't accept the job, the employee is not eligible for the voucher. The offer of modified or alternative work must meet the following conditions:

  • The employee is able to perform the essential job functions
  • The job is a regular position lasting at least 12 months
  • The job offers wages and compensation that are at least 85 percent of those paid to employee at the time of their injury
  • The job is located within reasonable commuting distance of the employee's residence at the time of injury.

What are the amounts of the SJDB voucher?

The amount of the voucher depends on the amount of your disability award:

  • Up to $4,000 voucher for permanent partial disability of less than 15 percent
  • Up to $6,000 voucher for permanent partial disability between 15 and 25 percent
  • Up to $8,000 voucher for permanent partial disability between 26 and 49 percent
  • Up to $10,000 voucher for permanent partial disability between 50 and 99 percent

The amount of the voucher is $6000.

When does the voucher expire?

The voucher does not expire if issued prior to 1/1/2013

If issued on or after 1/1/2013, the voucher will expire within two years of being issued or five years from the date of injury, whichever comes later.

Note: for an injury between 1/1/2004 and 12/31/2012 the SJDB could be issued after 1/1/2013.

If issued on or after 1/1/2013, the voucher will expire within two years of being issued or five years from the date of injury, whichever comes later.

Can the SJDB voucher be used outside of California?

You can use the voucher to pay an out of state private provider of education-related retraining or skill enhancement. The provider must be approved by the governing state agency similarly to the way California providers are approved

Education-related retraining or skill enhancement must be with a California public school or with a provider that is certified and on the state's Eligible Training Provider List.

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