Department of Labor and Industry

Wage and Hour Forms

Stay at Work/Return to Work

SAW/RTW Statutes


39-71-1003 – Voc Rehab for injuries before June 30, 1997
39-71-1004 – Industrial Accident rehabilitation account
39-71-1006 – Rehabilitation benefits
39-71-1011 – Definitions
39-71-1014 – Rehabilitation services
39-71-1025 – Auxiliary benefits
39-71-1031 – Exchange of information
39-71-1032 – Termination of Benefits for noncooperation with rehabilitation provider – appeal
39-71-1036 – Medical Status Form
39-71-1041 – SAW/RTW goals and options – notification by department – agreement between worker and insurer
39-71-1042 – Request for and delivery of SAW/RTW
39-71-1043 – Rehabilitation provider – evaluation
39-71-1049 – SAW/RTW assistance fund – purpose – payment process
39-71-1050 – Assessment for SAW/RTW assistance funds
39-71-1051 – Rulemaking authority

Stay at Work/Return to Work Project

For more information on the Stay at Work/Return to Work Project, contact Jason Swant, (406) 444-1748.

Program Goal

Minimize avoidable disruption caused by work-related injury or occupational disease and assist the injured worker to return as soon as possible to:

  • The same position with the same employer, or
  • A modified position with the same employer.

Program Promotion

A post card is mailed to each injured worker who files a workers’ compensation claim on or since July 1, 2012. The post card notifies the worker that stay at work/return to work (SAW/RTW) assistance is available to help them return to work.

Post Card Language:

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) and workers’ compensation insurers help Montana workers stay at work or return to work quickly after a work-related injury. Staying at work or returning to work reduces the impact of workplace injuries on workers, their families, their employers and their communities. To find out more, contact your workers’ compensation insurer or DLI by visiting http://erd.dli.mt.gov, by phone 406-444-1752 or by email at sawrtwrquest@mt.gov.

Assistance Availability

SAW/RTW assistance is available for anytime unless:

  • The worker has been determined to be a disabled worker
  • The worker has refused a job that the worker is:
    • Physically capable of
    • Qualified to do, and
    • Wages are at least equal to time of injury job
  • The worker has actually returned to work
  • The worker’s claim has been closed or settled

Assistance Request

The injured worker, employer or health care provider may request SAW/RTW assistance. Requests for SAW/RTW assistance can be made to the Department or directly to the Workers’ Compensation Insurer. Requests can be made to the department by phone or email by calling 444-1752 or emailing sawrtwrquest@mt.gov.

When the department receives a request for SAW/RTW assistance, the department determines the insurer at risk for the claim and advises the insurer of the request for SAW/RTW assistance.

Assistance Delivery

By law, if the insurer has accepted liability for the claim, the insurer is responsible to provide SAW/RTW assistance to the worker either under the insurer’s own SAW/RTW policy or by assigning a rehabilitation counselor to provide the assistance.

When the Department notifies the insurer of a request, the insurer shall let the Department know within three days that the insurer is acting. If the insurer is providing the SAW/RTW assistance pursuant to their own policy, the insurer will provide the worker, and copy the Department, an explanation of the SAW/RTW assistance including contact information for the person providing the SAW/RTW assistance.

If the insurer has not yet determined whether or not to accept liability for the claim, the insurer may provide SAW/RTW assistance either under the insurer’s own SAW/RTW policy or by assigning a rehabilitation counselor to provide the assistance. 

If the insurer has not yet determined whether or not to accept liability for the claim and declines to provide SAW/RTW assistance the Department shall obtain SAW/RTW assistance for the worker by designating a rehabilitation counselor. CRC service provider list.

If the department cannot determine the insurer at risk for the claim, the Department shall obtain SAW/RTW assistance for the worker by designating a rehabilitation counselor.

SAW/RTW Assistance Provided by the Department

When the department designates a rehabilitation counselor to provide SAW/RTW assistance for the worker, the rehabilitation counselor will:

  • CRC Worker Contact Procedures
    • Assess commitment to stay at or return to work
    • Identify and resolve barriers to stay at or return to work
  • Medical Status Form Review
    • Ensure understanding of work abilities and work restrictions
  • Employer Contact Procedures
    • Establish ability to provide transitional employment
    • Ensure that transitional employment available meets work abilities outlined in the medical status form
  • Facilitate communication for transitional employment
    • Assist the employer with transitional employment position offer
    • Ensure the injured worker understanding and acceptance of transitional employment offer
    • Obtain medical provider input or approval for transitional employment if not provide in the medical status form
  • Follow-up
    • Ensure duties assigned during transitional employment meets work abilities outlined in the medical status form
    • Identify injured worker/employer concerns or issues
    • Provide recommendations to resolve issues or concerns
    • Monitor readiness to return to time of injury job

Workplace & Equipment Modification Assistance

Assistance is available up to $2,000.00, to assist an employer in modifying the workplace or purchasing equipment required for the employer to provide transitional employment. The employer must apply to receive the assistance. The application must include:

  1. a written recommendation from the department-designated vocational rehabilitation counselor which specifically describes the required workplace modification or equipment;
  2. the estimated cost of the recommended workplace modification; and
  3. the estimated cost of the recommended equipment.

Insurer Responsibilities

  1. Adopt a SAW/RTW policy and submit a current, complete copy of the policy to the department
  2. Designate a single point of contact to coordinate all department requests for SAW/RTW assistance
  3. Provide SAW/RTW assistance to the worker either under the insurer’s own SAW/RTW policy or by assigning a rehabilitation counselor to provide the assistance when the insurer has accepted liability for the claim.
  4. Provide the worker and copy the Department with an explanation of the SAW/RTW assistance including contact information for the person providing the assistance.
  5. Elect whether or not to provide SAW/RTW assistance if a request for SAW/RTW assistance is made prior to the insurer's acceptance of liability for a claim
  6. Notify the injured worker and the department in writing within three business days if the insurer
    • Accepts liability for the claim
    • Denies liability for the claim or
    • Declines to provide SAW/RTW assistance.
  7. The insurer shall report the outcome of SAW/RTW assistance to the department, using the department outcome reporting form, within 30 business days of the earliest of the:
    • Return to work start date;
    • Termination of SAW/RTW services; or
    • Injured worker's attainment of maximum medical improvement.

Department Responsibilities

Coordinate requests made to the department for SAW/RTW assistance with insurers. When an insurer cannot be identified obtain SAW/RTW assistance for the worker by designating a rehabilitation counselor. Continue to provide SAW/RTW assistance via the rehabilitation counselor until it:

Provide written notice to the injured worker, employer and insurer, if identified, when a vocational rehabilitation counselor is assigned by the department to provide SAW/RTW assistance. The notice shall be made within three business days of the assignment of a vocational rehabilitation counselor. Provide written notice to the injured worker, employer and insurer of the completion of department-provided SAW/RTW assistance within three business days of the completion of services.

  • Terminates SAW/RTW services to the injured worker upon notice of insurer denial of liability for the claim;
  • Terminates SAW/RTW services to the injured worker upon exhaustion of the maximum allowed provider fees, or
  • Transfers responsibility for the delivery of SAW/RTW assistance to the insurer upon notice of the insurer's acceptance of liability for the claim.