Every year, more than 4 million workers suffer from serious, job-related injuries. Even more frightening is that studies show workers have a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before they reach retirement age. When this happens, it can be a confusing and overwhelming time. There are certain tips that are important to know and can make the disability claim process simpler.
When you are injured at work and your doctor decides that you are not well enough to return to your job, you may decide to pursue long-term disability benefits. With these, you can receive financial support for your doctor’s visits and for your lost wages. In order to receive benefits, you must file a claim. This is where some of the more technical information comes into play, because there are important guidelines to follow to better your chances of having your claim accepted.
There are different kinds of benefits that work in different ways. Some workers are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits, which pays an employee for time off work while recovering from a work-related injury and also provides a compensation payment for any permanent disability that was sustained. If you cannot return to your previous job, Workers’ Compensation typically includes job retraining for a different position, as well.
Social security disability benefits are for people who cannot work because of a medical condition. Typically, this condition is one that is expected to last at least one year or could even result in death. Social security disability benefits can also be given to certain family members of the disabled worker, such as their spouse or children. Family members, just like the injured worker, must meet certain requirements that are set forth by the Social Security Administration.
After an injury, you will have many doctors’ appointments, and need to follow the recommendations of your doctor precisely. Doctors monitor a patient’s progress, especially throughout the scope of a work-related injury. If you do not abide by your doctor’s orders, an insurance company can assert that you further injured yourself or that it can no longer be proven that your injury is solely work-related. For these reasons, when doctors specify how much weight you can or cannot lift, if there are certain positions that you should avoid, you should follow their instructions fully. Remember, if you do not follow the doctor’s orders, it could compromise your disability claim.
It is also important to understand that you need to protect yourself when various representatives contact you. Although your employer may support your disability claim, insurance companies have attorneys who work for them and may contact you. Sometimes, investigators can even be hired to examine whether or not you are “truly” injured. Although this is uncomfortable, this is not a personal attack against you; it is how the claims process can sometimes work. Insurance companies do not want to pay towards a disability claim, and will do what they can to prove they do not need to. Furthermore, rather than asking an employee at your company’s Human Resource department specific questions about your claim, it is best to work with an attorney who can help guide you through the process. If you have filed a claim and are getting phone calls or being asked questions that you do not know how to answer, it is always best to contact an attorney instead of saying something that could work against you.
Each benefits program, such as Workers’ Compensation or social security disability, have “incentive” programs that allow you to continue receiving your benefits while simultaneously safely testing your ability to perform work-related duties. These incentive programs are also something you want to speak with an attorney about, to make sure that you are doing everything legally, safely and advisably.
When you get injured at work, the first thing that you should do is get to a doctor. Follow whatever instructions the doctor gives you, and make sure that you hold on to all documentation of your visit(s). After you have pursued medical treatment, contact an attorney who can answer your questions and work to protect you throughout the disability claims process. It helps to have someone advocating for you as you are struggling with an injury and figuring out if and when you will be able to return to work. Not only can an attorney handle much of your claim, but they can also provide support as you navigate through this difficult time.
If you have any questions about a workplace injury or disability benefits, please call the knowledgeable Philadelphia attorneys at Galfand Berger, LLP. With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call our Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.