I was recently browsing the many discussion forums online about how Worker’s Compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance are related to each other, along with general questions about Worker’s Compensation. So, instead of letting these questions go unanswered, I figured I could explain some of them here.
The first major question was “How long until I receive my first Worker’s Compensation Check and how much will it be for?” Well, the truth is, it depends on the individual case. If it was simple, and you got immediate approval, you would start receiving payments after a 14-day processing period. But, generally, this is not the case. Many problems can arise while processing your claim, whether it is with your employer or their worker’s compensation insurance company. According to Florida law, if you are injured on the job, you should be eligible to receive between 66 and 80 percent of your average weekly wage.
Something that seemed to confuse a lot of people was whether or not you are responsible for your medical bills. The answer is no. All medical bills should be filed directly with your employers’ worker’s compensation insurance. However, if you choose a lump-sum settlement, the responsibility of your medical bills returns to you, even if your condition worsens after the settlement has been made.
Another question claimants seem to have was, “does my employer have any right to ask my doctor the duration that I will be out of work?” Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes. When you file a worker’s compensation claim, you are essentially giving up any right to privacy about medical care. The insurance company will also be the one to choose your doctor, and therefore has a say in your course of care. The Florida Worker’s compensation program provides a minimum requirement of care that insurance companies have to carry out. Their goal is not to get you well; it is to comply with the law. However, your employer cannot legally put pressure on you to return to work before your situation calls for it. In relation to this, your employer cannot fire you, or pressure you to resign while you are recovering from injuries sustained on the job.
Many other injured workers want to know if they are eligible for any other benefits while on worker’s compensation. You can definitely apply for Social Security Disability Insurance while receiving worker’s compensation. However, according to the SSA, you can only receive up to 80% of your average weekly wages, so your social security payment would be adjusted based on how much you are receiving through worker’s compensation.
What about Unemployment Benefits? If you are filing a claim for Worker’s Compensation, you do not qualify for Unemployment. Unemployment benefits are for those who have the full capabilities to work, but can’t find a job. If you are filing or collecting worker’s compensation, it is because an injury is preventing you from being able to do your job, so in theory you can’t work.
“What happens if the injury I sustained will permanently prevent me from returning to my previous job?” There are vocational retraining programs that can help you gain the skills that will enable you to find another suitable job, if your injuries are severe enough to keep you off the job permanently.
And finally, when is the right time to hire a lawyer, when filing a worker’s compensation claim? Legally, you do not need an attorney to handle a claim, but if things get confusing or overwhelming, the support from someone who is an expert on the process can help greatly. Also, if you feel like you’re being taken advantage of, or something doesn’t feel right, getting help from a professional will only make things easier.
If you’re injured at work, your new job is to focus on healing. To get assistance with a worker’s compensation claim, contact your experienced, Central Florida worker’s compensation attorneys at the Coye Law Firm.