It's not easy to head back to work after a workplace injury caused damaging effects to your overall health and well-being. In a lot of cases, returning to work means workers' compensation benefits will be stopped. But, as an injured worker, you do have certain rights that your employer must follow to ensure you are entitled to the coverage you deserve based on the PA Workers' Compensation Act.
A recovered employee must return to work at the right time or risk losing their workers' compensation benefits, but they shouldn't rush the process and potentially risk aggravating their injuries if they are not ready. Knowing when and how to properly come back is essential to regaining your income, happiness and overall quality of life.
The Right Time to Return
After undergoing an independent medical exam (IME), also often known as an insurance medical exam, their physician renders an opinion about your ability to work. Some employees are allowed to return in a lighter capacity even while still receiving treatment or physical therapy, but it varies from employer to employer depending on if their restrictions can be accommodated. For example, if an employee on the line in a manufacturing warehouse seriously injured their leg, they may only be allowed to complete seated work until they've fully healed.
Types of Disability Payments
Your benefit payments may be labeled based on the status of your disability and employment.
- Temporary Total Disability: An employee is completely unable to work or has restrictions that the employer cannot accommodate. That individual can receive a percentage of their wages based on a calculation under the workers' compensation act.
- Temporary Partial Disability: An employee has restrictions due to the work injury and is working a modified duty job at a loss in earnings they will receive a partial compensation check calculated under the PA W/C Act taking into account their earnings. Partial compensation has a maximum payout of up to 500 weeks.
- Specific Loss Benefits: Amputations of certain body parts or they are useless for all practical intents and purposes, or scars on your head face or neck.
A Proactive Return to Work Policy
Some employers have a return to work policy to provide a transition period for your return. If you're partially disabled from your workplace injury, contact your employer to see if they can make work available to you.
If you are released to return to work with restrictions, you should contact your employer to see if they can accommodate your restrictions. By Pennsylvania law, your employer is not required to keep your position open for you while you are on workers' compensation generally speaking. Collective bargaining agreements could say otherwise, however. If you are off not working due to a work injury you should be receiving total disability payments. If you are on restrictions and are working earning less than you did at the time of your injury you should be receiving partial disability payments.
Let Dugan & Associates Help You!
If you or someone you love is returning to work off of workers' compensation, our Dugan & Associates team is here to provide advice and guidance through the process. Our experienced lawyers have dealt with these cases many times before and deal with these cases on a regular basis to help ensure a seamless return. Give us a call at 412-353-3572 or contact us online today for a free consultation!