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Disability Management

Admin Risk Management manages disability claims by working with employees, state agencies, workers' compensation specialists and other professionals to help injured state workers stay on the job or return to work quickly. Disability management services include:

  • Screenings and Assessments: Helps to determine an injured employee's physical potential for returning to work and the assistance they may need in their effort to return to work.
  • On-Site Job Analysis: Defines individual job tasks and provides suggestions for possible job modifications.
  • Return-To-Work Programs: Assist agencies in returning injured employees to their jobs or in locating different work for employees within the state system when injuries prevent a return to normal job.
  • Ergonomic Evaluations: Visually assess and measure the employee's work environment and make suggestions for improvement.

Additional information is available below. To learn more about disability management services and resources available through Admin Risk Management, contact us at 651-201-3010. 

  • What Is Disability Management?

    Disability Management is a proactive program directed at minimizing the impact of disability on an employee's physical capabilities as they relate to job performance. A disability management program benefits both the employer and the employee by reducing the cost of disability to employers while assisting disabled employees with return to work.

    Promoting early return to work is desirable for several reasons. An employee's chance for successfully returning to their regular job increases if the employee returns to work soon after (ideally within two weeks) an injury occurs. Most employees are capable of doing some work activities within a few days of sustaining an injury.

    An effective Disability Management Program can promote significant "bottom line" advantages in important areas such as productivity, workers' compensation cost management and prevention.

  • Disability Management Goals and Services

    Admin Risk Management manages disability claims by working with injured state employees, state agency representatives, workers' compensation specialists and other professionals to help injured employees remain working or help them return to work quickly.

    Specific Disability Management goals of Admin Risk Management
    • Coordinate the return to employment for state employees who have been injured as a result of their work
    • Work closely with injured employees, state agencies, physicians, rehabilitation specialists, medical case managers, claims specialists and others to return injured employees to their pre-injury job (the development of job modifications may be necessary in order to achieve this goal)
    • Keep employees in the workplace setting, increasing the chance that they will return to gainful employment
    • Develop and coordinate appropriate return-to-work plans for injured workers
    • Provide, in cases where work-related disability makes return to the pre-injury job impossible, vocational assessments and development of plans designed to place injured employees into different jobs
    • Manage all aspects in helping injured state employees return to work in a manner that is both cost-effective and respectful

    Disability Management Services
    • Medical case management in coordination with the certified managed care plan
    • Meet with the injured employee and his or her physician
    • Coordinate recommended programs or treatments
    • Assist the employee's supervisor in understanding the work ability report*
    • Task and ergonomic analysis to match restrictions
    • Assist the employee's supervisor in setting up a gradual return to work if appropriate
    • Provide problem solving assistance for supervisors
    • Provide assistance with disability management/return-to-work communication issues
    • Provide recommendations for job modifications to accommodate injured employees
    • Provide or arrange for vocational testing
    • Provide and arrange for job placement assistance

    *The work ability report is prepared by the injured employee's treating physician and documents the employee's physical capabilities and work restrictions. The employer should refer to the employee's work ability report to ensure that the injured employee is returned to work appropriate for the employee's physical capabilities.
  • Disability Management Personnel

    Disability Management Supervisor
    Liz Houlding
    Director, Admin Risk Management

    Qualified Rehabilitation Counselors
    Jim Sandusky, MS, CRC, QRC

    Roselyn Rockman, OTR, CDMS, CCM, QRC

    Workers' Compensation Placement Coordinator

    Role of the QRC

    Qualified Rehabilitation Counselors (QRCs) provide rehabilitation services to state employees who are entitled to rehabilitation benefits under Minnesota Statutes, Section 176.102. They are registered by the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to perform this function and possess experience and training in vocational rehabilitation and medical case management. A QRC is responsible for the following activities:
    • Meet with all parties (the injured state worker, employer representatives, physicians, rehabilitation specialists, vocational counselors and others)
    • Obtain current medical information
    • Evaluate the employee: past jobs; past medical information; perception of present job; perception of his/her injury and subsequent work restrictions; vocational goals; other factors in their life that may affect the case
    • Obtain information about the employee's job, duties, physical requirements, work environment, etc.
    • Discuss the employee's medical treatments and job requirements with the employee's physician
    • Coordinate the flow of information between the medical community and claims manager
    • Communicate with the employee about his or her capabilities and work restrictions associated with the job-related injury
    • Ensure that the employer representatives receive complete information about the injured employee's condition and prognosis, work restrictions, possible job modifications, possible ergonomic solutions, etc.
    • Provide general assistance in dealing with problems, communication, negotiation, clarification and solutions
    • Coordinate and monitor job placement effort

    Workers' Compensation Return to Work

    The Workers' Compensation Placement Coordinator administers a statewide workers' compensation job development and job placement return-to-work program for injured state employees. Once an employee is identified as in need of job placement, the Placement Coordinator is responsible for functions that include:
    • Administering the priority referral placement procedure for qualified injured employees
    • Identifying, developing and monitoring placement opportunities within and between agencies, including the determination of eligibility for other positions within the state system
    • Developing mobility assignments: A mobility assignment is a limited assignment for an injured employee to learn alternative duties in another state agency (mobility assignments give injured state employees the opportunity to develop new skills and broaden their career perspectives)
    • Monitoring placement activities of injured employees who are receiving assistance from a vendor placement specialist
    • Working with state agencies and other rehabilitation professionals in identifying work reassignments within the agency that meet the employee's current physical restrictions
    • Providing consultation, education and training to state agency workers' compensation coordinators, supervisors and managers regarding all aspects of the State's return to work process
  • Contacting Disability Management Staff for Assistance

    Generally speaking, Admin Risk Management is contacted when assistance is needed on workers' compensation claims with injuries or disabilities that impact the employee's ability to return to work at the pre-injury agency.

    Specifically, assistance from a Disability Manager or Qualified Rehabilitation Counselor (QRC) is suggested in the following circumstances:

    • An employee is losing significant time from work due to job-related injury or disability
    • An injured employee has returned to work, but begins to miss additional time due to work injury
    • The agency is having trouble finding a light-duty job that will accommodate the physical capabilities or work restrictions of the injured employee
    • An injured employee states that the light-duty job that has been assigned is inappropriate
    • An injured employee returns to work on a temporary light-duty assignment and their medical condition doesn't appear to be improving
    • The nature of an injured employee's job and injury suggest that an ergonomic job evaluation is appropriate (injuries of an individual's upper extremities often suggest that an ergonomic evaluation may be helpful)

    An employee may request the referral of a workers' compensation case for review by Admin Risk Management at any time factors are evident that may cause an employee to stay off work or be on restricted duty. For assistance, call the claims specialist managing the claim or contact the Disability Management Unit at 651-201-3010.

  • Tips for Helping Injured Employees Return to Work

    The following tips can be useful to managers and supervisors to help employees return to work promptly following disability due to illness or injury sustained on the job:

    • Take a proactive role in the injured employee's return-to-work process.
    • Communicate with the employee about their job and their injuries.
    • Be positive, fair, and flexible when dealing with an injured employee. Place emphasis on the work and activities that the employee is capable of accomplishing.
    • Call your employees when they are not working and be positive about their return and recovery. How are they doing? Do they have any questions? Tell your employees that they are missed at work and that you will work with them to accommodate any restrictions that will assist them in getting back on the job.
    • Ask the injured employee to identify tasks that they are capable of performing and about job and task modifications that would allow them to perform work.
    • Consider job modifications for the injured worker and have some possible modified job tasks and jobs in mind for the employee before they return to work.
    • Let the injured employee ease into a full-time work routine if medically necessary.
    • Give support and recognition to employees who must "fill in" to perform the duties of an injured or disabled co-worker. Even in cases where temporary staff members are engaged to help "fill in" for the inured employee, your other permanent workers are likely to be making a greater effort during the injured person's return-to-work process.

    Contact Admin Risk Management at 651-201-3010 for assistance in implementing any of the tips suggested above, or for specific advice in helping an injured/disabled employee recover and return to work promptly.

  • Guidelines for Initial Response to Job-related Injury or Disability

    General suggestions for responding to employee disability cases

    • Treat all employees the same. Be fair and consistent.
    • Stay in contact with an employee who is losing work time. This contact establishes a "sentinel" effect, which shows the employee that his or her disability will be monitored.
    • Show concern for injured employees and inform them that you are eager for them to return to work.
    • Do not use the occasion of a work injury or disability as an excuse to implement personnel policies or reprimands.

    Supervisor's initial screening of an injured employee

    The supervisor of an injured employee plays a major role in the worker's disability management and subsequent return-to-work process. The supervisor's responsibilities in these areas begin when they receive initial notification from the employee stating that the employee will miss work or will need light-duty work because of job-related injury or disability. The following guidelines are helpful in formulating a response.

    • When employees call in or advise that they will not be reporting to work or are going home early because of a job-related injury or disability, the supervisor's first question should be, "What is wrong?"
    • If an employee states that they have been injured, the supervisor should ask, "How did it happen or begin?" The supervisor should not ask, "Do you think this happened at work?" or "Is this work-related?" The power of suggestion is often strong.

    If the employee states that they were or may have been injured at work, an Agency Claims Investigation Form (Word Doc) and an Injured/Illness Incident Data Form (Word Doc or PDF) regarding the matter must be completed (this is not the employee's responsibility). These documents must be completed promptly and submitted to your agency Workers' Compensation Coordinator within 24 hours (Minnesota statutes provide significant penalties to agencies that delay the processing or filing of Agency Claims Investigation Forms and First Reports of Injury). The State Workers' Compensation Program will then file these items with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and other authorities for disposition. Instructions for completing and forwarding information appear in the Supervisor's Injury, Illness, and Incident reporting and Workers' Compensation Checklist (PDF).

    Referring employees for medical care for work-related injuries

    Refer employees for medical care for work-related injuries in these situations:

    • In any emergency
    • Whenever an employee's injury results in lost work time
    • Whenever the injury involves back or neck strains or other moderately painful muscle strains
    • If you are unsure about any aspect of the employee's medical problem

    Except under certain circumstances, state employees should obtain medical care for work-related injuries through CorVel, which is under contract with the State of Minnesota to provide workers' compensation managed care health services to state agency personnel. See your agency's Workers' Compensation Coordinator for complete information about referring injured workers to medical care through CorVel.

  • The Work Ability Report

    The Work Ability Report (PDF) is prepared by the injured employee's treating physician and documents the employee's physical and work capabilities. A current version of the work ability report should be given to the injured employee by the physician following each physician visit for treatment related to their job-related injury or disability. The employee should then provide their employer with a copy of each completed work ability report.

    The employer should refer to the employee's work ability report in order to ensure that the employee is returned to work that is appropriate for the employee's physical capabilities.

    For assistance in understanding injured employee's work ability reports and recommendations for finding jobs and tasks compatible with capabilities specified on a work ability report, call 651-201-3010.

  • Job Analysis Services

    Admin Risk Management can provide job analysis services that are often helpful in determining an injured employee's return-to-work options while evaluating the need for possible job modifications.

    A job analysis is not a study of an individual worker or of production rates, but rather it is a study of a specific job as it exists. The job analysis consists of a comprehensive evaluation of the physical and cognitive demands associated with workplace duties. This type of study can prevent future injuries and disabilities by providing background information for use in establishing guidelines which help employers to ensure that a worker's capabilities are appropriate for their job.

    The basic job analysis available to state agencies has four elements:

    1. Purpose of the job

    • Reason the job was created
    • Job function
    • Job responsibilities
    • Relationship with other jobs
    • What an employee produces or accomplishes

    2. Major tasks and essential functions

    • Job activities that the employee must perform from the time they enter the worksite through completion of their work
    • Supplies needed
    • How the task is done
    • What task is performed first
    • Where the task is taking place
    • Steps necessary to complete the task (actions and physical demands)

    3. Job setting

    • Work station
    • Environment
    • Supervision
    • Context
    • Hazards

    4. Worker qualifications

    • Minimum requirements
    • Physical requirements
    • General skills
    • Academic skills
    • Previous experience
    • Personal characteristics (worker traits required and relevant to do the job such as dexterity, fine manipulation, hearing and smell, memory skills, supervisory skills, verbal ability, etc.)

    Admin Risk Management also provides:
    • Task analyses concentrating on item number two above
    • Job analyses assisting supervisors in examining job-related hazards such as repetitive bending that can be modified to reduce back injuries
    • Ergonomic job assessments examining the work setting and the employee to identify critical physical demands that may be causing problems.

    For more information about job analysis services available to state agencies from Admin Risk Management, call 651-201-3010.

  • Links

    The following web pages offer additional information about disability management, workers' compensation, and worksite and employee safety issues.