Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Returning to Work

In most states, workers’ compensation would give the injured employee the right to receive the following benefits:

Medical Care

It is the injured employee’s right to receive the necessary treatment to cure them or relieve them from the effects of their injury. In medical care compensation, items such as medical bulls, prescription medications, and travel to and from the hospital could be covered. Other plans may even allow the employee to obtain the services of the company doctor, although most would be only for a maximum of 30 days, then they would have to find their own doctor upon the submission of  written request.

Temporary Disability

Injured employees may be entitled to take some time off from work because of their injury and receive disability pay for this duration as part of the compensation for lost wages. There are certain limits to the pay rate given, but it is usually about two-thirds of the average weekly gross pay of the employee. It is usually given every two weeks. The first temporary disability check should be received by the injured employee within a few weeks after the doctor certifies that they are unable to work because of the injuries sustained.

Permanent Disability

If the injury sustained by the employee would no longer allow them to go back to work, the employee may be entitled to permanent disability pay. An employee is said to be permanently disabled if the injury they sustained has made them lose some ability to be able to compete with non-injured workers in the open labor market. The limitations placed by the injury on the worker’s activities would determine the amount and rate awarded for permanent disability. In addition to this, the occupation, earnings and age of the employee at the time of the injury will also be taken into consideration.

Vocational Rehabilitation

There are times when vocational rehabilitation may be given in order to help an injured worker find another work if their injury would no longer allow them to go back to their previous job. During the course of the worker’s vocational rehabilitation, they are given the partial equivalent of their pay, just like in temporary disability. There is usually a limit to the amount given for a vocational rehabilitation. Other times the employer may offer a different line of work within the same company to the injured person.

The Effect of Returning to Work

Once the employee goes back to work after the injury and they receive wages that are equal or more than what they earned at the time of the injury, then the worker’s compensation may most likely be stopped. But if they are earning less than what they used to earn before the injury, then the injured person may still be entitled to continuously receive benefits for lost wages, but may be in a slightly less amount.

Workers’ compensation do not require the employer to reinstate the employee to a similar or the same position when they return to work, unlike in the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). State laws govern workers’ compensation insurance and do not impose this requirement on employers. But there are states that require employers to give or offer the injured employees rehabilitation and retraining services. See Rehabilitation Rights of Injured Workers.

Wage Loss Benefits 

There are a lot of varying types of wage loss benefits that are provided in different states. These benefits may either be temporary partial or temporary total.

Temporary partial disability benefits are given to an employee who has suffered an injury at work and is temporarily disabled, but may possibly still be able to earn some income despite their temporary disability. The pay may be based on a certain percentage difference between the earnings of the employee prior to the injury and earnings after.

Temporary total disability is paid to employees who are injured and are temporarily unable to do any work because of their injury. Temporary total disability in some states are based on a percentage of the wage that the injured employee earned before the injury.

Temporary partial and temporary total benefits are not the only kind of benefits that an injured employee may get. There are even some states that may not even provide these benefits for certain types of disability. These are just examples of the kinds of benefits that an injured worker may be entitled to.

If there is any change in an employee’s work status while on disability benefits, they should immediately inform their employer or insurer and the employee’s attorney. Not notifying the employer or insurer may result to certain consequences involving the employee’s right to receive these benefits.

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