Types of Workers Compensation Benefits
Workers’ comp benefits can include medical care, rehabilitation expenses, and disability coverage to compensate you for lost wages. If you’ve been injured on the job or become ill through your work, you may have already been told that you can receive some or all of these benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
Workers’ compensation pays for medical care for work-related injuries immediately; it pays temporary disability benefits after a waiting period of three to seven days; and it pays permanent partial and permanent total disability benefits to workers who have lasting consequences of disabilities caused on the job. This is in contrast to Social Security Disability Insurance payments, which begin five months after the onset of the injury or condition that makes the individual unable to work. Medicare coverage begins 29 months after the onset of the injury.
The Goal: Returning to Work
The goal of return-to-work services is to return the injured worker to substantial gainful employment with a minimum of retraining as soon as possible after an injury occurs. The emphasis is placed on substantial employment with the preinjury employer in the injured worker’s preinjury capacity by utilizing transitional (modified or alternate) work. Depending upon the needs of the injured worker, there are several types of return-to-work services to assist an injured worker in returning to work.
If an injury prevents a return to one’s former job, assistance in getting another job (vocational rehabilitation) might be included in workers’ compensation benefits. During vocational rehabilitation, a partial income is distributed, similar to temporary disability. The vocational rehabilitation benefit usually has a maximum monetary limit, and may be replaced by an offer of modified or different work from the employer.
Medical expenses normally include hospital costs and required diagnostic tests, such as MRIs and CT scans. Related out-of-pocket expenses, such as wheelchairs, crutches and, in some cases, transportation to and from treatment centers, can be covered. More liberal coverage may include counseling, pain therapy, holistic remedies, and acupuncture. In most cases, experimental treatment is not covered.