Each year, millions of Americans are injured on the job or exposed to an illness in the course of their job duties. As such, they may accrue expensive medical bills and be unable to go to work to pay their routine bills. For workers who have workers’ compensation benefits, accessing this financial should help alleviate at least some of their financial stress. However, millions of Americans also have their benefits reduced or eliminated, leaving them to determine why and handle the financial ramifications. If this happened to you, determining why is the first place to start when handling this news.
Why are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Reduce or Eliminated?
Workers’ compensation is intended to be the sole solution to an injured worker’s unique financial challenges. However, there are actions that employees can take that can reduce or eliminate these benefits. For example:
- Intentionally injuring themselves to access benefits, which includes initiating a fight while on the job
- Sustaining an injury at work that is the direct result of drug or alcohol abuse
- Failing to wear the required safety equipment
The Basis for Benefit Payments
The compensation rate for disability claims is two-thirds of the injured employee’s average weekly wage. Your benefit amount and duration can depend on the type of benefit payments your claim qualified for. Your claim will be one of the following types:
- Temporary Partial Disability
- Temporary Total Disability
- Permanent Partial Disability
- Permanent Total Disability
If you are approved for temporary partial disability only, your benefits are meant to compensate you for your reduced average weekly wages for your injury. These payments are the sum of two-thirds the difference between your pre-injury wages and the wages after the date of your injury.
Under permanent total workers’ compensation claims, there is no anticipation of a recovery. However, these benefits are not necessarily paid for life. Some pay for the duration of the disability only, and some specify the age at which the benefits will be eliminated. Your maximum disability benefits are determined according to a percentage of the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW) across all industries.
What to do if Your Benefits Were Reduced or Eliminated Too Soon
Having your workers’ compensation benefits reduced or eliminated before they should be or before you were expecting them to be can be quite concerning. Suddenly, the financial security you relied on and were anticipating having longer are no longer there. It is crucial that you find out why. Every workers’ compensation case is different so it may be challenging to try to determine this on your own. It is possible that a mistake was made, or something was overlooked with your claim that you had no control over. It could be you didn’t realize how the rules applied in your workers’ compensation claim.
Rules regarding workers’ compensation benefits are highly complex and are not applied uniformly from one employee to the next. If you were injured at work or have a work-related illness and you’re eligible for workers’ compensation, an experienced disability attorney could help you to avoid the reduction or elimination of your benefits too soon.