When a workplace accident or injury occurs, many employees worry about the financial implications they will face. Pennsylvania’s robust Workers’ Compensation program provides payment for losses suffered following injury or illness. The length of time you will receive such benefits varies from case to case.
The severity of the injury or illness, the level of disability experienced, and alternate job opportunities are all key factors that impact the amount of time you will receive workers’ compensation payments. Workers’ compensation can reimburse medical expenses without limit if they result from treatment of the injury or illness; however, there are limits on the length of time your employer will pay for lost wages.
Our Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Lerner, Steinberg & Associates can work with you to determine how long payments may last in your case. Be sure to request your free case review by calling (215) 355-6400.
How Long Will I Receive Lost Wage Payments in Pennsylvania?
Lost wages are part of workers’ compensation if you are disabled and cannot work after a workplace injury or illness. The length of time you receive these payments depends on how severe the injury or illness is and how long it prevents you from working. A herniated disc injury that prevents physical labor could result in months of lost wages until the injury is healed or corrected by surgery or treatment.
Contrast the herniated disc example with a minor concussion injury that only prevents work for 2 or 3 days. The lost wages portion of workers’ compensation provides payment for work missed due to the workplace incident; therefore, the severity of the injury factors into the total time you can receive compensation. Lost wage benefits also apply to illnesses, with occupational hazards like asbestos or coal dust potentially causing significant work absences. Our Bucks County Workers’ Compensation attorneys evaluate claims, including various injuries and illnesses.
Total Disability Benefits
If you cannot work after a workplace injury, you could be eligible for total disability benefits under workers’ compensation. This category applies to employees who cannot complete any job duties. The compensation lasts as long as the disability prevents work; however, there is a caveat. 77 Pa.C.S. § 511.3(1) allows employers to require a medical evaluation after 104 weeks of total disability payments.
In this medical examination, a physician will evaluate the injury or illness and determine a level of impairment. If the level of impairment is 35% or more, you can continue to receive total disability benefits. If the doctor states that the level of impairment is less than 35%, your employer can request a demotion to partial disability status.
The portion of Pennsylvania worker’s compensation law concerning impairment levels and physician exams was significantly affected by a Pennsylvania Supreme Court case in 2017. The Pennsylvania legislature subsequently repealed this section and passed a similar section with some modifications. Since this part of the law has faced challenges, it would be beneficial to consult our Montgomery County Workers’ Compensation attorneys if this section of the law affects your claim. Since this law may change or be challenged again, you could speak to our lawyers so they can advise of new changes and how they affect your compensation claim.
Partial Disability Benefits
A partial disability categorization applies if you cannot complete some key responsibilities of your job due to workplace injury or illness or cannot continue your job full-time. The amount of compensation you can receive under partial disability benefits is the same as if you were completely disabled; however, there is a hard limit to the amount of time you can receive partial disability benefits. 77 Pa.C.S. § 511.3(7) provides that partial disability cannot exceed 500 weeks.
Once you are considered partially disabled, the clock starts ticking on your lost wage benefits.
What if I am Offered a Different Job?
An alternate job may be a better fit if a workplace injury prevents you from performing your current job. For example, if an injury prevents physical labor, a sedentary job could provide employment, provided you are qualified.
If you can find another job notwithstanding your injury or illness, this will affect your Workers’ Compensation payments. Any money made at alternate employment will reduce your lost wages and lower your Workers’ Compensation benefit. If you have the qualifications for a job where you can make the same or a higher salary, your employer may stop your compensation payments.
Alternate employment will affect your compensation payments and must be reported promptly. Failure to report another job is illegal and could result in large financial penalties. Consult our Berks County Workers’ Compensation lawyers to determine what steps you need to take.
What if My Employer Stops Paying Workers’ Compensation?
As you recover from your injury or illness, your employer may pay temporary compensation while they continue to investigate your claim. If your employer ultimately determines that they are not liable for Workers’ Compensation payments, they will cease these temporary payments. If this happens and you disagree with your employer, our Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation attorneys can help appeal this decision.
An employee generally has 3 years from injury or illness to ask the workers’ compensation office of adjudication to review their denial. When you are ready to appeal, our lawyers can assist with filing a claim petition and representing you in a hearing before a workers’ compensation judge. Our lawyers can also negotiate on your behalf in mediation or settlement discussions.
There are additional appeal options if your case does not end favorably after a hearing before a judge. Our Chester County Workers’ Compensation attorneys can discuss these should your case require additional legal action.
Reach Out to Our Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
Our Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Lerner, Steinberg & Associates can review your circumstances, help determine the payments you are entitled to, and assist with any issues that arise. Call us today at (215) 355-6400 for a free case review.