Work injuries are never a good thing, but you might find some peace of mind knowing that injured employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits to help bring them back to health and productivity.
Here’s a guide to the different workers’ compensation benefits.
These benefits are designed to cover medical costs related to a work injury. This could include doctor’s examinations, surgeries, prescription medications, medical equipment (like crutches) and reimbursement for mileage when driving to medical appointments. State laws and rules guide the extent of treatment.
An employee who misses work for more than a few days due to a work injury can receive benefits to help replace some of their lost income. Wage-loss benefits would kick in after the employee has been off work longer than the state’s waiting period, which is three days in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and seven days in Nebraska and South Dakota. Employees receive two-thirds of their lost wages. (State maximums may apply.) Sometimes injured workers might continue to earn some wages, but less than they were making before they were hurt if they are working for fewer hours or being moved to a light-duty job with lower pay. When this happens they can receive wage-loss benefits for the difference between what they make after they are injured and their prior average weekly wage. There are many nuances to wage-loss benefits. For more details, see the Understanding benefits CompTalk on SFM’s website.
Depending on the situation, an injured worker might work with a rehabilitation professional. The rehab professional’s role is to help the injured worker transition back into their original job or find another job that pays as well as or better than the pre-injury job. Injured workers may also be retrained for a new line of work if it isn’t possible for them to return to their pre-injury job.
Permanent partial disability
Sometimes a work injury leaves the employee with lasting physical damage such as hearing loss, amputation or a decreased range of motion. When this happens, the employee might be eligible to receive a specific dollar amount for this loss of function. The amount is determined based on a state schedule. Loss of income doesn’t figure into this calculation.
If an employee is fatally injured on the job, workers’ compensation coverage can provide for burial expenses and ongoing payments to dependents such as spouses and children for a period of time.
To hear an explanation of workers’ compensation benefits, watch our quick video: