After a serious work-related injury or illness, you will likely be unable to return to your job for a considerable length of time. During the time you are unable to work, you can apply for wage-loss benefits. These are some of the many benefits available through the workers' compensation insurance policy that your employer carries. With the help of these regular checks, you can continue to pay your household bills while you recover from your injuries.
But here's the catch: Making a mistake during the workers' compensation process can endanger your benefits. Don't let a simple error jeopardize your ability to make ends meet. Instead, avoid these four common missteps when seeking wage-loss benefits:
1. Failing to report other income. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, injured workers who are either seeking or currently receiving benefits must report other wages to the insurer. This means that if you are earning money from self-employment, or if you are getting a paycheck from a different company, you need to file a written report. If you are dishonest, it can be considered insurance fraud, which is a crime.
2. Ignoring the time limits. If your employer isn't already aware of your injury, you need to report the accident to him or her within 21 days to begin receiving benefits right away. If you wait longer than 120 days to report the injury, you will likely lose your right to seek compensation at all.
3. Refusing a medical examination. If you are currently receiving wage-loss benefits, the workers' compensation insurance company has the right to request a physical examination by the physician of its choice. If you refuse to see this doctor, your benefits may be suspended.
4. Failing to assert your rights. If your illness or injury was related to your job, you have legal rights. One of these rights is to file a petition for a hearing if your claim is denied. You also have the right to consult a knowledgeable attorney about your workers' compensation dispute. In these cases, a lawyer typically collects a fee only if he or she successfully resolves your case.