When Is the Best Time to Return to Work Post Injury?
June 5, 2013
By Norman J. Weinstein, Esquire
This question is frequently asked by our clients, particularly in Workers’ Compensation cases. The best answer is when you are ready and feel you can do so without further injury. Workers’ compensation benefits are paid based upon loss of earning power and not because of a work injury alone. One receives total temporary disability benefits which covers wage loss when he/she is unable to perform the job he/she was hired to do.
During the time out, the injured worker is presumably getting medical treatment for the work injury. With time, hopefully there is improvement. With improvements come increased physical abilities and perhaps an ability to perform some functions for gainful employment. These functions may be less than the original job. The insurer/employer must then show the injured worker has earning capacity through the availability of work at the place of employment or in the community. Many times, the employer shows this by utilizing an insurer based medical exam and opinion. Two-thirds of the difference between pre-injury and post-injury wages is paid as partial disability benefits. Again, the worker is being paid based on loss of earning power. Should such work be offered or become available, what should the worker do?
Most importantly, this is an issue between a patient and his/her doctor. What work can be done safely? Is the job offer or job available within the worker’s restrictions? Once the doctor has rendered an opinion, the lawyer can advise. Returning to work is important for many reasons, most significantly getting back to a normal routine including, collecting a salary and receiving benefits. Fear of being fired upon return is a real concern as is being pushed to do more than the restrictions permit. These concerns will not be justification for refusing to try a job. Returning to work with protections for safety and job security can be accomplished.
Consulting with a knowledgeable work injury lawyer is crucial at this juncture. Communication and responsive action is essential in determining what happens next to one’s benefits. The Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Galfand Berger in Philadelphia are available to help make those decisions. Call us today at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. Our experienced Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation attorneys will help you protect your rights to benefits while you recover from your injury and return to work when you are ready.