If you have the misfortune of being injured at work in New York, workers’ compensation insurance typically will apply to help compensate you for income lost due to your injury. Along with monetary compensation, you may be entitled to receive vocational and medical rehabilitation as well. A lesser-known benefit available through the worker’s comp program is aid from social services.

According to the state Workers’ Compensation Board, social workers are available to help injured workers and their families deal with the stress of the situation and work toward recovery. Whether an injury is treatable or permanent, disability can have a huge impact on family members and their individual roles due to changes in finances, social status and pain management.

It is the job of the social worker to assess the problems and work with the family toward a solution. Social workers can provide short-term counseling to help the family come to grips with the changes, or refer members to counseling services for long-term needs. They may also take on the responsibility to speak with the insurer to obtain benefits, as well as additional services, which include:

  • Putting the family in touch with a variety of government assistance programs, including food stamps, food pantries, soup kitchens, public assistance and emergency shelters.
  • Negotiating rent with landlords, utilities and additional creditors to work out affordable payments.
  • Delaying actions against the worker until any outstanding issues are resolved.
  • Working with the family to develop a budget based on their lower income.

To help injured employees return to work, social workers team up with rehabilitation counselors to resolve issues that may be impeding progress. They can include medical and vocational needs, as well as social and environmental factors. Specifically, they are able to help workers find proper medical care, locate dependents in cases of employee deaths, advocate for the disabled worker, arrange for convalescent or home care, work with the board to expedite cases and help claimants get medical or employment records.

Workers’ comp claimants should know that all of these services are confidential and free to the entire family. Any interested party to the workers’ comp claim can make a referral for social services as well.

The information in this article is of a general nature and should not be considered legal advice.