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Workers' Compensation FAQ

What Kind of Benefits Can I Get Through Workers' Compensation?

If you have been injured at work or if a workplace accident accelerates or aggravates a pre-existing condition you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. The range of benefits that are available to an injured employee will vary from state to state but most of the key benefits are the same. All states provide some kind of compensation for loss of earning power and most states provide medical care as well.

Lost Wages

The most common benefit which is provided through workers' compensation is reimbursement for lost wages. These benefits can be paid on a temporary basis, when the employee needs time off work to recover, or a permanent basis if the employee will never fully recover from his or her injuries. In a majority of cases employees will miss some work and will have medical expenses but they will fully recover and will be able to return to their old duties. These employees will be reimbursed for the work that they missed. The amount of the reimbursement for lost wages is usually equal to a percentage of what the employee would have earned if they had been working.

When a disability will have a permanent effect on the employee's ability to compete in the workforce and earn money then the employee may get reimbursement for future lost wages. The amount of the benefits is usually an estimate of the difference between what the individual could earn without the disability and what their current earning potential is. Again, every state can have its own scheme for calculating benefits.

In extreme cases, where an employee cannot work at all, they are entitled to total disability benefits. This is similar to future lost wages except that it is not offset by any other amount. If an employee has zero earning potential then workers' compensation could be the only income that they have. The amount of a total disability benefit could be based on what the individual was earning at the time of the injury or what their anticipated future earnings would be.

Healthcare

In addition to lost wages most states provide medical benefits. Employees can get the treatments which are reasonable necessary to cure or relieve their injury. They can get reimbursement for medical bills and for prescription medications. There may be certain limitations however, like requiring the individual to see a particular doctor. In some cases, workers' compensation will also pay for transportation to the hospital. The cost of future medical expenses may also be figured into the amount of a monetary award.

Rehabilitation

There are two major types of rehabilitation; medical and vocational. Many people think of physical therapy when they hear the word "rehabilitation," but it can also mean preparing for a new job. If an employee is unable to return to his or her former position they may need vocational training. Employees in vocational training will generally get partial income too. They will be unable to work, both due to their disability and the fact that they must attend training, and they may require financial support.

Conclusion

These are just some of the benefits that are usually offered through workers' compensation. States can limit these benefits or offer much more. Although the benefits vary from state to state each state has a schedule for calculating the appropriate benefit due. An employee can get a good sense of what they may be entitled to by looking at their states laws or talking to an attorney.

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