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If I am disabled, how can I access workers’ comp services?

An injury you sustain while working as a police officer or a firefighter may be severe enough to disable you. You might even have an existing disability from a prior injury or from birth. If so, you should know that you can access the state workers’ compensation services even if you have substantial problems getting around or communicating.

Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, you have legal protection if you have a disability. If you want to pursue workers’ compensation, the state of California may grant you reasonable accommodation.

Providing reasonable accommodation

According to the California Department of Industrial Relations website, a reasonable accommodation occurs when the Division of Workers’ Compensation provides a type of assistance to disabled persons so they can utilize their services and programs. Reasonable accommodations may extend to services such as the Disability Evaluation Unit, the Information and Assistance Unit and the Retraining and Return to Work Unit. In the event you wish to appeal a denial of your workers’ comp claim, you may also receive assistance when interacting with the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board.

Examples of reasonable accommodation

If you submit a request to the DWC, you may ask for specific assistance to help you out. If you have problems with your sight, you may ask for documents that have large print. If you have suffered from impaired sight for a long time and know Braille, the department may provide documents in Braille. Audio recordings are another option. If you have a hearing disability, the division could accommodate you with a sign language interpreter.

These are not the only accommodations the DWC offers, but if you need assistance when using the state workers’ comp services, you should make a request as soon as you can. For example, you should send a request for a computerized translation service or an assistive listening device five days before you need them for a hearing. Making a timely request will help ensure the accommodations will be available.