Opioid Prescriptions and Temporary Disability

May 4, 2018

A new study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) examined the effect of opioid prescriptions on the duration of temporary disability benefits. The report found that those with work-related low back injuries who were prescribed opioids spent more time out of work on temporary disability.

Nearly all Pennsylvania workers are covered by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, which, in addition to medical expenses and death benefits, provides injured workers with wage-loss compensation benefits for the time they are unable work.

Implications of the WCRI Study

The WCRI study examined data from 28 states, including Pennsylvania, for low back injuries between 2008 and 2013 that resulted in more than seven days of missed work. Researchers found that longer-term opioid prescriptions were associated with more than triple the duration of temporary disability than those with no opioid prescriptions. WCRI’s president and CEO notes that doctors often prescribe opioids for nonsurgical low back injuries even though medical practice guidelines dissuade the routine use of opioids for such injuries. He says the findings of the study indicate that implementing policies against longer-term opioid prescriptions will result in a faster return rate to work.

Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania workers who are injured and unable to return to work may receive either temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability, temporary total disability, or permanent total disability benefits. Temporary partial disability benefits are paid to those who are temporarily unable to return to their original position due to an injury they sustained on the job. Workers who are assigned a lower paying job upon their return to work are eligible to receive up to two-thirds of the difference in pay.

Permanent partial disability benefits are available to those who were permanently disabled because of a work-related injury. In Pennsylvania, partial is defined as a less than 50 percent impairment, as determined by a doctor in accordance with American Medical Association standards. These workers will also be eligible to receive up to two-thirds of the difference in pay if they are unable to return to the job they had prior to the injury.

Temporary total disability benefits may be extended to those who are at least 50 percent impaired due to their work-related injury. For this type of injury, Pennsylvania workers may receive up to two-thirds of their average weekly wage for up to 500 weeks. Once the worker returns to work, temporary total disability benefits will be terminated.

Permanent total disability benefits are granted to those who are no longer able to return to work of any kind due to their work-related injury. Injured workers may choose to receive their permanent total disability benefits in a lump sum or in weekly payments.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates Help Workers Injured on the Job Claim Compensation

If you have suffered a work-related injury and are unable to return to work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. To set up a consultation with a skilled member of our legal team, call the experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates at 1-888-PITT-LAW (748-8529) or submit an online inquiry. Our offices are located throughout Philadelphia, and we proudly represent clients in Pennsylvania including those in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County. We have over 35 years of experience fighting for the rights of injured workers.