Workers’ Comp and Returning to Work: Will You Lose Benefits?

When an employee becomes injured on the job, that employee may have a right to seek damages from the company they work for due to lost wages and other losses that may be suffered due to the work-related injury.

Workers’ Compensation is a type of insurance that provides such employees with replacement of wages and medical benefits that cover related medical expenses. In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits, the employee must give up his or her right to sue their employer on the basis of a negligence tort.

When an employee becomes injured on the job and can no longer perform his or her work duties due to that injury, there are three main types of worker’s compensation benefits that can kick in to financially compensate the employee. These benefits include temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, and vocational rehabilitation.

Those who suffer a temporary disability are often able to return to their previous jobs within a year’s time. Those who suffer a permanent disability are those who are deemed to be disabled for one year or more. Those who are disabled to the point where they will no longer be able to perform the type of work they had been performing, but could potentially perform a different type of work, can receive vocational rehabilitation benefits which would train the individual for work in another field.

Understanding the Types of Wage Loss Benefits

Wage loss benefits come in two forms: temporary partial and temporary total:

  • Temporary partial wage loss benefits: Are for workers who are able to earn at least a portion of their previous wages while they are suffering from the effects of their work-related injury.
  • Temporary total wage loss benefits: Are for workers who are completely unable to earn any type of income due to their work-related injury and the resulting disability.

Going Back to Work

If an employee is only temporarily disabled and/or receives vocational rehabilitation, he or she will likely return to work at some point. Many of the people who receive workers’ comp benefits worry that they will lose money by returning to work. For example, if an individual can net a salary of $2,000 a month by going back to work, but their workers’ comp benefit is $2,500 a month, the individual could theoretically lose $500 each month by returning to work. Fortunately, this isn’t necessarily how these benefits work.

If you return to work after being injured and the wages that you receive once you return to work are equal to or greater than the wages you received before your injury occurred, chances are that the workers’ compensation benefits that you have been receiving will end. However, if you return to work and experience a wage loss due to the injury, workers’ comp benefits will likely continue (although at a reduced rate) to make up for the gap in income. These benefits are known as wage loss benefits.

Finding Help for Your Workers’ Comp Claim

When it is something as serious as your means of support on the line, you want to make sure that you receive exactly what you are entitled to in terms of monetary compensation and not a penny less. The best way to do this is to retain the services of an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation law. A workers’ compensation attorney will be able to determine what benefits you are entitled to and will know how to best negotiate with the insurance company and/or your employer.

A workers' compensation attorney will work to ensure that you receive the benefits that you deserve. If you try to handle your claim on your own, you may not receive the full amount of benefits you are entitled to, so oftentimes these attorneys’ services pay for themselves by way of larger settlements and workers’ comp benefits.