Make Sure That Your Suspension Of Benefits Is Not Termination
When you suffer a work-related injury or illness that temporarily prohibits you from performing your job, workers’ compensation benefits provide you with benefits while you recover. In time, your physician may agree that you can return to work, but if you are not fully healed from your injury or illness, you need to be sure that your workers’ compensation benefits are merely suspended and not terminated.
Seeking the advice of the Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys at Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias, is essential to ensure that your rights under the workers’ compensation act are protected. When you return to work and resume your full wage, your employer has the right to suspend your workers’ compensation benefits. Suspending rather than terminating or modifying your benefits acknowledges the fact that you have not yet fully recovered and that your injury or illness may again prevent you from working. When benefits have been suspended, they can be resumed if your condition changes. Before you sign any agreements to suspend your benefits, however, you need knowledgeable, experienced workers’ compensation attorneys to review the agreement to ensure that your benefits are available should you need them again.
Petition To File For Suspension Of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
When an employer files a petition to suspend your workers’ compensation benefits, they agree that you are capable of returning to work and recognize that your work-related illness or injury may require further medical treatments. A suspension also acknowledges that it may be necessary for benefits to resume if your injury or illness prevents you from working again. While the suspension is in place, the employer is required to pay all medical costs relating to the work-related illness or injury. Once in place, a suspension of benefits may remain in effect for up to 500 weeks.
The process for suspending workers’ compensation benefits requires the employer to file a petition with the Department of Labor and then notify you in writing within seven days. If you consent to the suspension, you would then sign a supplemental agreement, which is a legally binding document. If you choose to challenge the suspension, then you need to notify the Department of Labor within 20 days of receiving notice of the petition. A supersedeas hearing would then be scheduled within the next three weeks. At the hearing, the employer will provide facts to substantiate the petition to suspend. You will need to provide strong evidence to successfully dispute this petition.
Representation by a workers’ compensation attorney, such as the workplace injury attorneys at Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias, is vital at the supersedeas hearing. If you fail to provide convincing evidence that the suspension should not be granted, the judge will most likely rule in favor of the suspension. Because the judge’s ruling cannot be appealed, it is imperative that our workers’ compensation attorneys review all documents before submission at the hearing. Having our experienced attorneys represent you throughout the process will ensure that your workers’ compensation benefits remain in effect for as long as you need them.
Returning To Work After A Suspension Of Benefits
Once your workers’ compensation benefits have been suspended it is important to follow all of the stipulations agreed upon at the time of the suspension. Ongoing medical treatments, tests, and follow-up visits must be adhered to during the suspension period. Your employer may require documentation of all doctor visits, physical therapy sessions, follow-up appointments, and other medical treatments so that your progress can be monitored. This is essential to resuming benefits should you need them.
It is also important to have our attorneys review any and all documents relating to the suspension of benefits before you sign them. Some employers will present documents as a final receipt or a supplemental agreement that can put your suspended benefits in jeopardy. You could unknowingly sign an agreement that states you are fully healed and without risk of further injury or illness. A careful review of all documents by the Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys at Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias, can avoid this. If this has happened to you, our attorneys can petition the judge to dismiss the Final Receipt.
How Can Specific Loss Benefits Help?
Specific loss benefits are available under Pennsylvania law in addition to wage loss and medical benefits. You may be entitled to these benefits if your hearing or sight, arm, leg, hand, finger, foot, or toe has lost some or all of its function due to an injury or accident at work. If you have only lost part of the use of a finger, toe, or another part of your body, you may be entitled to receive additional compensation provided under the workers’ compensation act. These benefits are payable for the specific loss of the injured body part and are not payments for lost time from work; specific loss benefits are calculated separately from other types of benefits. Even if you have not missed days at work, you may be entitled to specific loss benefits. The body part affected need not be amputated or rendered useless to be compensable.
Even scars may entitle you to these additional benefits, whether caused at the time of the work injury or as a result of surgery. These disfigurement claims require very specific facts to be proven by the evidence to support an award by the Court. The attorneys at Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias, are very experienced litigators, who possess the skill necessary to thoroughly present the facts required for a successful outcome in these types of cases.
The legal test for specific loss benefits is whether the body part, hearing or eyesight has been lost for all practical intents and purposes. For specific loss of body parts or eyesight, Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law provides for a specific number of weeks of benefits as well as a healing period during which benefits are paid. A maximum of 275 weeks of compensation is payable for scarring of the face, neck, head caused by a work accident, or by surgery necessary after a job-related accident. The workers’ compensation judge assigned to your claim decides the number of weeks’ compensation you will receive at his or her discretion.
An individual may have suffered a permanent injury to a particular body part that is not totally disabling, but may still be entitled to receive a set sum of benefits that has been pre-determined by the Workers’ Compensation Regulations.
Certain guidelines have been established for those who can receive specific loss benefits, including an explanation of the medical evidence required to support a loss-of-use claim. When you have suffered an injury which you now believe is permanent, you may be entitled to make a claim for a specific loss benefit if you can prove that you have lost the use of 50% or 100% of that body part.
Our Legal Team Can Protect Your Rights
If you are planning to return to work and face a suspension of your workers’ compensation benefits, the Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias, workers’ compensation attorneys can ensure that your benefits are protected. Do not risk losing medical coverage for your work-related injury or illness or future benefits should you need them. Our attorneys know the laws regarding suspension of workers’ compensation benefits and we understand how important it is to protect you and your family in the event that your injury or illness prevents you from working in the future. Whether you are signing a Supplemental Agreement or facing a workers’ compensation judge, our lawyers will provide experienced and knowledgeable representation. Call us today for a free consultation at 610-601-5399 or contact us online.