Temporary Disability Benefits
It’s a fact of life: People get injured and sick at work all of the time. If that has happened to you, you’re certainly not alone.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are nearly three million recordable cases of non-fatal injuries and illnesses each year in the U.S. The Mann Law Firm wants you to know that Georgia law protects you. If your injury or illness prevents you from working, you may be eligible for temporary disability benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation system. Consider the following important information:
What Do Temporary Disability Benefits Provide?
If you suffer injuries in a workplace accident that causes you to miss seven days of work, you can receive weekly temporary disability benefits for additional days away from work. Once you have missed work for 21 consecutive days, you can be paid for the first seven days you missed.
An authorized treating physician will determine the degree of your disability, and in turn, that will establish if you are eligible for one of two types of benefits:
- Temporary total disability benefits – You can receive these benefits if your disability prevents you from returning to any kind of work. Payment equals two-thirds of your average weekly wage at the time of your injury (an amount capped by statue).
If you have a catastrophic injury – for instance, you lost a limb or suffered serious burns – you can receive these benefits for as long as you are disabled. However, if your injury is non-catastrophic, your benefits will end 400 weeks from the date of your injury.
- Temporary partial disability benefits – If your employer offers you a “light duty” job consistent with limitations ordered by your treating physician, you can receive these benefits. You must accept this position and attempt to perform your new job duties for a 15-day “grace period.” During this period, your total disability benefits won’t change. However, if you can perform the light-duty job, you will be assigned temporary partial disability benefits.
These benefits equal two-thirds of the difference between your average weekly wage before your injury and the wages you earn in your light-duty job (subject to the statutory cap). They are available for up to 350 weeks from the date of your injury.
Even if a light-duty job is unavailable, you can be assigned light-duty status. After 52 consecutive weeks, or a maximum of 78 total calendar weeks that involve interrupted periods of disability, your benefits will be reduced from temporary total disability benefits to the maximum temporary partial disability benefits you are eligible for.
How Do I Apply for Temporary Disability Benefits?
Once you have been examined, the doctor will report your status to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Your employer or the insurer must then notify the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Board of your status. You must receive a copy of this report.
As your recovery progresses, your doctor may release you to return to work with restrictions. The insurer must complete another form and send it to you (or your workers’ compensation attorney) within 60 days of the release. This serves as notice that your benefits may change.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me Obtain Temporary Disability Benefits?
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can ensure that your injuries are properly examined, diagnosed and documented so your claim accurately reflects your disability.
Unfortunately, employers and insurers may press you to return to work too soon after your injury. After all, paying temporary disability benefits is an expense that neither the insurer nor the employer wants to bear. Your employer may even dispute whether you are disabled at all. This dispute may require a hearing.