Obtaining workers’ compensation benefits after sustaining an injury on the job can provide you with the financial support you need to pay your bills and let you focus on recovering from your injury.
Without your workers’ compensation benefits, you could be overwhelmed with financial troubles. Your benefits allow you to keep paying your bills and take care of your loved ones who are depending on you.
Once you start receiving your benefits, one of your first questions is likely to be for how long you will receive the benefits. Ideally, you want to keep receiving the benefits until you can go back to work.
Temporary and permanent disabilities
The answer to this question depends on your specific situation and there is usually no definite answer. However, the amount of time you collect your benefits can depend on if you are temporarily or permanently disabled.
Most workers’ compensation claims are initially based on a temporary total disability. This means that your disability is likely to improve, and you should be able to return to work one day.
Your worker’s compensation benefits for a temporary total disability usually end when an independent medical exam concludes that you have reached maximum medical improvement, or your treating physician declares that you can return to work.
Maximum medical improvement
Maximum medical improvement means that your injury or condition has reached the point where it will not improve with any further treatment. If you can perform the same job you did prior to your injury, your benefits will end, and you can go back to work.
You might reach maximum medical improvement but cannot perform the same job you did before and must take a lower-paying job. In these situations, workers’ compensation benefits still end, but you could pursue wage loss benefits to make up for the lost income.
A permanent total disability means that you will never reach a point where you can return to work. You should continue receiving benefits permanently.
However, since most disabilities are temporary total disabilities, you should typically expect to receive your workers’ compensation benefits for the entire time you are off work, with some exceptions.
Additional circumstances that could cause your benefits to end
Your benefits could stop if you have not yet reached maximum medical improvement, but your employer creates work for you within your restrictions.
Other situations that could cause your benefits to end include if you become incarcerated, voluntarily work for any employer while you are receiving benefits or voluntarily quit a job.
You should be careful with these types of situations. The purpose of workers’ compensation benefits is to provide you with payments because you cannot work.
Therefore, you should not go looking for work that you believe you can do even with your injury, with the intent of making some extra money along with your benefits. You should also not start a job and then quit, expecting to start receiving your workers’ compensation benefits again until you reach maximum medical improvement.
When your workers’ compensation benefits end depends heavily on the facts of your situation and injury. It helps to get professional advice on what to expect.