If you have improved enough to work but cannot yet do the full duties of your previous job, you may be able to do “light-duty” work and still receive some of your workers’ compensation lost wage payment. Your medical coverage will continue to pay for all treatment.
It is imperative that your doctor lifts some of your work restrictions and approves of your new light-duty tasks before you return to work.
Light-Duty Work Could Allow You to Return to Work Sooner
There are several ways injured workers can learn about light-duty jobs:
- Your doctor clears you for some tasks, and you approach your employer
- Your employer offers you light-duty work within the doctor’s restrictions
- Your employer offers you work outside the doctor’s restrictions
In any of these scenarios, if your employer does not have a job available that fits within your restrictions, you will continue to receive your usual lost wage benefits. However, your employer does have the right to attempt to accommodate you and offer you light-duty work that meets the restrictions set by your doctor. If they offer you a job and you refuse it, they may file to suspend your wage loss benefits.
It is important to note, however, that the job duties of your new position must meet the restrictions set by your doctor. If either your doctor or the company doctor refuses to approve the duties of the position, you can challenge your employer’s demand.
What Happens to My Payments If I Return to Work?
What happens to your workers’ compensation lost wage benefits if you return to work depends on how much you make from the new light-duty position. If this job pays at least as much as your previous job, you will lose access to these benefits.
If your new position pays less than your previous wages, you can receive a smaller portion of the wage loss benefits than before. This is usually around two-thirds of the difference between your previous wages and your new wages. For example, imagine you made $600 a week before your accident. Your new job pays only $450 a week. You could draw two-thirds of the difference between the two, for a $100 benefit each week.
You May Need to Challenge Your Employer During a Hearing
If your employer believes you should return to work, they will likely file a “Petition to Terminate, Modify, or Suspend Benefits.” When you receive notice of this, you should reach out to our team right away. By challenging this petition, you can continue to receive benefits until a Workers’ Compensation Judge rules on your case.
While we wait for the hearing date to arrive, we will collect the evidence needed to prove your case and prepare what we will present on your behalf at the hearing.
Berger and Green Can Help You Fight to Keep Your Workers’ Compensation
There are several ways being offered light-duty work can negatively affect your Pennsylvania workers’ compensation payments, whether you want to take the job and feel you cannot or whether your employer demands it, but you do not feel ready. Our attorneys will review your case for free and can explain your options.
At Berger and Green, we understand how important your workers’ compensation payments are to you. Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, this may be the only income you have to help you and your family make ends meet until you can return to your previous job. We will fight to help you protect your lost wage benefits.
When your employer petitions to modify or suspend your benefits, you have only a very short time to act. We can:
- Appeal this petition if there is sufficient time to do so
- Review your medical records, doctors notes, and other information
- Enlist the help of medical expert witnesses if necessary
- Prepare a case to present to the Workers’ Compensation Judge
- Represent you during your hearing
- Appeal the decision if they require you to return to work
Discuss Your Case with a Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
Berger and Green founding partner Laurence B. Green has more than four decades fighting to protect injury victims in the greater Pittsburgh region. Along with the rest of the team from Berger and Green, he has helped thousands of clients recover the payouts they deserve.
If there is an issue with your workers’ compensation claim, or if they are demanding you go back to work before you are ready, we can help. Let us review your case at no cost to you. We can explain your rights and represent you to a Workers’ Compensation Judge if necessary.
Call 412-661-1400 today to get started with a free initial consultation with a member of our team.