What Kinds of Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Available?
Getting injured on the job can put a financial strain on you and your family. Not only do you have to take time off work to recover, but the medical bills for a serious accident can add up to six figures or more as well. Workers’ compensation benefits ease the stress of a job-related injury by providing monetary payment for missed wages, medical care, vocational rehabilitation, and more. If you’ve been hurt at work, here’s an overview of the workers’ compensation benefits that may be available to you and/or your dependents.
Medical care workers' compensation benefits
When you’re injured on the job, you have a legal right to collect workers’ compensation benefits that will pay for any treatments, tests, surgeries, and medicine necessary for your recovery. If you need special equipment, such as a wheelchair or special vehicle to help you adapt to life post-injury, workers’ compensation will likely cover these items, too. In general, only common medical practices are covered under workers’ compensation. If you want to try an experimental or investigative treatment, you may have trouble getting reimbursed without the help of an attorney.
All medical care is subject to a utilization review to determine whether the proposed treatments are medically necessary. If a treatment isn’t found to be medically necessary, the claim may be denied. A workers’ compensation attorney can help in the event of a utilization review denial.
Temporary disability workers' compensation benefits
If you miss more than three days of work due to a workplace injury, you have a right to receive temporary disability benefits to ease the financial stress of being off the job. Your injury may be classified as a total temporary disability, which is one that prevents you from working at all, or a partial temporary disability, which only prevents you from doing some of your normal job duties.
Temporary disability benefits are paid at two-thirds the rate of your average weekly earnings. If this seems low, don’t worry. You don’t have to pay income taxes on disability benefits, so your earnings will be closer to your true income than it first appears. These benefits are paid bi-weekly and are limited to 104 payments.
Permanent disability workers' compensation benefits
A job-related injury that results in permanent impairment qualifies you for permanent disability benefits. A permanent total disability is one that prevents you from ever being able to return to work at your job or a similar one. A permanent partial disability occurs when you’ve suffered permanent damage due to a workplace accident, but it only partially impairs your ability to do your job.
The amount you receive in benefits is based on the percentage of permanent disability your doctor gives you. Benefits are paid weekly, in some cases for life, and in some cases until you reach a maximum dollar amount. A skilled and experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help make sure you receive the maximum amount you’re entitled to.
Supplemental job displacement workers' compensation benefits
Supplemental job displacement benefits (formerly known as vocational rehabilitation training) kicks in if your employer doesn’t offer you modified work and you don’t return to work within 60 days of being cut from temporary disability. This voucher helps cover the expenses of training for a new job. It can be spent on any education-related expenses including tuition, books, and school fees.
For workplace injuries that took place between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2012, the amount depends on the level of disability. For workplace injuries that took place after January 1, 2013, the voucher amount is $6,000 regardless of the injury.
Death workers' compensation benefits
When a worker dies due to a job-related injury or illness, his or her dependents are eligible for death benefits. These benefits include funeral and burial expenses, as well as a monetary reward to compensate family members who were financially dependent on the worker.
In California, the amount of death benefits to be paid is determined by the number of eligible dependents: $250,000 for one total dependent, $290,000 for two total dependents, and $320,000 for three or more total dependents. Additional amounts are awarded when there are partial dependents. However, partial dependents only receive death benefits if there are no total dependents or if there is only one total dependent to collect payment.
Are you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits exist to protect you if you get hurt while performing your job duties. Accidents happen, and when they do, it’s a comfort to know you don’t have to worry about providing for your family while you take time off to recover.
At the Law Office of Gerald D. Brody & Associates, we know exactly how to build your case and deal with difficult claims administrators so you receive the maximum benefits you’re entitled to. Give us a call at (619) 528-9800 to see what we can do for you. Your initial consultation is free, and there’s absolutely no obligation.