Vocational – Return to Work Matters: Physical Restrictions

Eastman v. Ins. Co. of North America, 2000 MT 216N (unpublished – nonciteable opinion.) In an unpublished decision, Supreme Court affirmed WCC determination that claimant's rehabilitation plan was not reasonable in light of substantial evidence suggesting the plan was unrealistic in that it would not train claimant for a position in which he was likely to obtain employment given the job market and his physical restrictions.
Carey v. American Home Assurance Co. [02/01/10] 2010 MTWCC 3 Although the claimant argued that her employer should have given her a modified job because it "owed" her for the limitations her industrial injury imposed upon her, the claimant's treating physician did not place any permanent restrictions on the claimant and it was only the claimant's belief that she could not physically perform some of the job duties. Since the treating physician did not find the claimant to have any permanent physical restrictions, the Court could not conclude that she had permanent physical restrictions which precluded her from performing some job duties.
Bagley v. Montana State Fund [08/18/09] 2009 MTWCC 29 The Court concluded that modified job duties which allowed Petitioner to work on his apprenticeship coursework fit within Petitioner’s physical restrictions where his medical providers agreed that he was able to work in a sedentary position, although they disagreed as to whether he could use his right hand for writing as part of his job duties. The coursework at issue contained both a reading and writing component and Petitioner presented no credible evidence to support his allegation that he would not have been allowed to complete only the reading component. Petitioner demonstrated an ability to write at least a minimal amount with his left hand, and his employer offered to provide him with a transcriber. Petitioner’s allegations that he was unable to participate in the sedentary job duties assigned to him are unconvincing.
Peterson v. MSGIA [04/07/06] 2006 MTWCC 14 job which requires stocking shelves and coolers, reaching overhead, mopping, and sweeping, cumulatively exceed the physical limitations of Petitioner’s shoulder condition, and thus is a job which Petitioner is not qualified physically to perform.

Peterson v. MSGIA [04/07/06] 2006 MTWCC 14 A job which requires lifting which exceeds the Petitioner’s lifting limitations is a job for which Petitioner is not qualified physically to perform.

Peterson v. MSGIA [04/07/06] 2006 MTWCC 14 A vocational rehabilitation counselor’s opinion that “maybe” a job no longer requires lifting which exceeds Petitioner’s restrictions is inadequate evidence that this job is now suitable for Petitioner’s physical limitations.
Eastman v. Ins. Co. of North America [7/29/99] 1999 MTWCC 46 Claimant did not prove entitlement to rehabilitation for any part of the two year major appliance/HVAC training he pursued following a back injury. Claimant declined to follow more reasonable vocational guidance offered by the insurer, but insisted in enrolling in and completing a program leading to jobs either not medically appropriate or not realistically available to him in Billings, where he unequivocally intended to remain. Claimant assumed the risk his program would be determined vocationally inappropriate and refused to reconsider the program despite the Court's initial findings after a first trial. Section 39-71-2001, MCA (1991) does not authorize a claimant to write his own rehabilitation plan and demand benefits in accordance with that plan.