Most people think of medical coverage when they think of workers’ compensation benefits. It is true that the health coverage available through workers’ compensation can be incredibly beneficial for workers dealing with a workplace illness or injury.
Unlike private or government insurance programs, workers’ compensation coverage does not have any kind of deductible, co-pay or co-insurance. That means that you incur no financial obligation for the treatment you need after a workplace injury or illness. The importance of medical coverage is significant for injured or sickened workers, especially because you will likely experience a period of time where you are unable to work.
During that time of forced unemployment, you will likely also need to file a claim for another form of important workers’ compensation protection, known as disability benefits.
Disability benefits are basically partial wage replacement
The use of the term “disability” confuses people and may prevent them from applying for benefits they need and would easily obtain. You don’t have to meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of permanently disabled in order to secure workers’ compensation disability payments.
There are temporary, permanent total and partial permanent disability benefits available. Temporary disability benefits help you cover the basic costs of living while you recover from an injury that keeps you from performing your work.
To qualify for temporary disability benefits, you only need to have missed at least three days of work due to your injury or illness or to have spent a night in the hospital because of your work-related medical condition. Temporary disability benefits will cover up to two-thirds of your average weekly income until you are either cleared by your physician and able to return to work or declared permanently disabled.
Partial disability protects you from decreased earning potential
Sometimes, the injuries you suffer because of your job will leave you unable to work. Spinal injuries and brain injuries, for example, can result in permanent, total disability and an inability to support oneself. Other disabilities may last for life and prevent the return to the same place of employment or career.
A catastrophic injury to your hands could prevent you from ever working in a factory again, while a brain injury that affects your balance may mean that you can only perform work that can be done while sitting down. If your employer cannot accommodate your medical needs or if your condition precludes you from the basic responsibilities of your former position, you may worry about how you will pay your bills.
Even if you can return to some lines of work, if you’re earning potential is lower because of your injury, permanent partial disability can help you close the gap between what you used to earn and your current earning potential after your recovery.