Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation and Returning to Work
Ensuring Your Benefits Continue Until You Are Ready and Able to Return to Work
Each state has different workers’ compensation laws regarding employee rehabilitation following a work injury. In Pennsylvania, workers are generally entitled to continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits until they can return to work of some form. Those attempting to secure new employment after a debilitating work injury may also receive vocational rehabilitation assistance from the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).
Injured workers who return to work before they are ready risk suffering further injury or losing their wage loss benefits. It is therefore important to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible upon receiving either an Independent Medical Examination (IME) request, a Notice of Ability to Return to Work, or a Petition to Terminate, Modify, or Suspend Benefits. The Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you continue receiving the compensation to which you are entitled until you are ready to return to work.
Independent Medical Examination (IME)
During the workers’ compensation process, injured workers may be required to submit an IME. An IME doctor is chosen and paid by the employer and will determine the extent that the worker is disabled. Workers who are less than 35 percent disabled but are unable to return to their higher-paying pre-injury jobs may be entitled to partial disability benefits equaling two-thirds of the difference between the wages they earned prior to their injury. Those who are more than 35 percent disabled and are unable to return to any type of work may be entitled to total disability benefits.
Notice of Ability to Return to Work
Employers and their workers’ compensation insurance carriers must provide prompt notice to an injured employee if they receive any medical evidence stating that they can return to work. Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, employers must file a Notice of Ability to Return to Work before attempting to terminate, modify, or suspend benefits. Therefore, once a worker has received a Notice of Ability to Return to Work, they are likely to receive a petition shortly after.
Petition to Terminate, Modify, or Suspend Benefits
Once the Notice of Ability to Return to Work has been filed, the employer may file a Petition to Terminate, Modify, or Suspend Benefits, requesting that the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation reduce or terminate the employee’s workers’ compensation payments. Typically, the employer will offer the injured worker a light duty job based on the IME’s report stating that the worker can return to a different job that accommodates their medical restrictions.
Light Duty Work
Light duty jobs vary by industry but may include duties such as performing office work or supervising job sites. Workers who decide to accept light duty jobs should follow the restrictions set forth by their doctors to avoid injuring themselves further or compromising their workers’ compensation payments. Accepting a light duty job may affect the amount of wage loss benefits a worker receives, therefore injured workers should carefully consider whether they are ready to return to the light duty jobs that are offered. Workers are not required to accept an offer of light duty work if:
- Their doctor disagrees with the IME doctor’s decision
- The light duty job does not accommodate the worker’s medical restrictions
Pennsylvania Return-to-Work Program
Workers, union representatives, employers, and health care providers have all collaborated on the Pennsylvania Return-to-Work (RTW) partnership, a proactive approach to getting injured employees back to work that is endorsed by many health care providers. RTW programs assist injured workers in returning to the workforce as soon as possible and help to minimize employers’ long-term workers’ compensation costs. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry encourages both large and small organizations to help injured workers safely and efficiently return to their pre-injury status by implementing their own formal RTW programs.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Provide Knowledgeable Legal Advice for Injured Workers
Workers should not return to work before they are ready. The Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. proudly fight for workers’ rights to continue receiving benefits until they are ready to return to work. Our skilled attorneys have more than 40 years of experience representing all types of workers throughout the state in both workers’ compensation claims as well as appeals. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.
Located in Philadelphia, we represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.