Your on-the-job injury might cause you to be out of work for some time. During that period, you might receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover lost wages. After a while, your treating physician might clear you to return to work. You might be wondering how your benefits will be affected. Can you still receive them, or will they end?
The answer depends on your situation. If your treating physician places return-to-work restrictions on you, your employer might offer a lower-paying job to accommodate your needs. In that case, you can receive workers’ compensation to make up for the difference in pay. However, if you can return to your pre-injury position or a similarly paying role, you might not be entitled to receive income benefits.
If you have been injured at work and need guidance through the workers’ compensation process in Atlanta, please reach out to The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, L.L.C. by calling (770) 741-2825 or submitting an online contact form today.
Going Back to Work with Authorization
Returning to work after being injured in a workplace accident isn’t something you can decide on your own. Your treating physician must assess your situation and clear you.
The treating physician might release you with or without restrictions. With restrictions means that the physician has determined that you can carry out work-related tasks, but you can only do so with certain limitations to ensure that you do not get injured again. For instance, they might indicate that you can’t do heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling. They could also limit the amount of time you can perform some duties, such as standing for only 15 minutes a day.
Without restrictions means that you are cleared to perform functions related to your pre-injury position without requiring reasonable accommodations.
How Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Affected When You Go Back to Work
Whether you are released to work with or without restrictions, your workers’ compensation income benefits will likely be impacted. They might end completely or be reduced.
If you can return to the job you had before your accident or a similarly paying role, you would not be entitled to benefits. However, if you return to work with restrictions and you attempt to do the job for 8 hours or a full workday but are unable to perform the duties, your benefits may be reinstated (O.C.G.A. § 34-9-240). Your employer would have to prove that you are no longer entitled to workers’ compensation.
Your employer might offer a different, lower-paying position because of the restrictions your treating physician placed on you. Under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-262, if a worker is cleared to return to the job but, because of the limitations arising from their injury, receives less pay, they are entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. This allows the individual to receive weekly benefits equal to the difference between the pre-injury and post-injury average income.
For instance, if you made $900 per week before your accident and come back to a job paying $800 a week, you could get benefits for the $100 difference.
You can receive temporary partial disability benefits for up to 350 weeks. The amount you receive per week cannot be more than $483.
If You’re Cleared to Go Back to Work, You Should
Your doctor might clear you to go back to work and your employer might make changes to accommodate your restrictions, but you might feel it’s too soon. Can you refuse your employer’s offer? No.
You must attempt any suitable position offered. If you work less than 8 hours or less than a full day in the role or you refuse it altogether, your workers’ compensation income benefits will be suspended. To reinstate them, you would have to prove that your injury prevents you from working and you are still entitled to supplemental compensation.
Reach Out to a Lawyer for Help
If you suffered an on-the-job accident, it’s crucial that you get the rest and care you need to recover. Returning to work too soon or accepting a position that does not have the proper accommodations can cause you to get injured again. An attorney can build your case to pursue and maintain the compensation you deserve.
To speak with one of our Atlanta lawyers at The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, L.L.C., please contact us at (770) 741-2825.