Have Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits Been Terminated?
Once you receive workers’ compensation for an on-the-job injury or an illness caused by your work, you might relax knowing that your medical costs and lost wages are covered. However, there’s always a chance that your benefits change or get cut off.
What Should You Do If Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Terminated?
Workers’ compensation benefits can provide a vital lifeline when you are injured on the job and are unable to work. However, workers’ compensation benefits can result in a significant expense to employers and their WC insurance providers. They will typically look for any opportunity to terminate your benefits, which could result in major financial hardship for you and your family.
Workers compensation termination may happen for various reasons:
- You’ve been receiving temporary benefits and your claim for benefits is denied.
- The employer and insurer decide that your injuries or illness have improved and you no longer qualify for benefits — or for the same level of benefits.
- You receive and sign an agreement to terminate your benefits.
- A workers’ compensation judge orders that your benefits be terminated after your employer, or their insurer, files a Termination Petition.
- The insurance company alleges that you have retired or left the workforce and you no longer qualify for benefits.
Insurers and employers benefit when they pay out the minimum amount possible in workers’ compensation cases. Therefore, employers and insurers may seek to reduce or terminate the benefits their employees are receiving.
If you’re seriously injured and qualify for full benefits, unjust workers’ compensation termination may make it impossible or difficult for you to pay for medical and living expenses. If you’re facing terminated workers’ compensation benefits, consult with a disability insurance attorney to review your termination rights and discuss possible solutions.
When Can Your Employer Terminate Your Benefits?
In Pennsylvania, your employer and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier can stop paying benefits when it has received evidence that you have returned to work and are being paid wages equal to or greater than those you were receiving prior to your work-related illness or injury. Your employer is required to furnish sufficient notice that your benefits are being terminated for this reason. In some cases, you may receive temporary WC benefits during the 90-day period following the reporting of a work-related injury. Your employer may attempt to stop these benefits if it does not accept your claim of a work-related illness or injury.
Other situations where PA workers’ compensation benefits may be terminated include:
- A workers’ compensation judge orders the termination of benefits after a hearing.
- You enter into an agreement known as a final receipt where you voluntarily relinquish your benefits.
- The 500-week time frame for receiving partial WC benefits has expired.
What Are Your Legal Rights When Your Benefits Are Terminated?
Under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, you have the right to file a petition for reinstatement if you feel that your benefits have been wrongly terminated. The petition must be filed within three years of the date of your last workers’ compensation check. The issue may be resolved through an informal conference or an alternative dispute resolution where a workers’ comp judge works with the parties in an effort to settle the case. You also have the right to appeal the judge’s decision.
How Do I Know if My Benefits Have Been Terminated?
In some cases, you may simply receive a notice of workers’ compensation benefits termination. More often, you will notice certain signs that your employer may be seeking to reduce or stop your benefits. For example, your employer may want you to meet with a vocational counselor to evaluate your job opportunities. You may also receive a request for designation of a physician to perform an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE). This requests that you visit an insurer-approved doctor for an evaluation.
In many cases, employers and insurers will use the results of this visit to file a Termination Petition. In these situations, it’s important to speak with a qualified attorney to avoid having your workers’ compensation benefits terminated unjustly.
Should You Consult With a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Reinstatement of terminated workers’ comp benefits is a complex process that requires navigating a maze of legal issues. While you are entitled to represent yourself during workers’ compensation proceedings, a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney may be able to offer valuable help throughout the process. Consider consulting with a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you receive notice that your benefits are being terminated.
Getting an Attorney on Your Side
An employer-terminated workers’ compensation benefits situation can be stressful. If you feel that your benefits have been terminated illegally or unjustly, contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco. We may be able to advise you about a terminated workers’ compensation benefits reinstatement or other steps you may be able to take to safeguard your benefits.
If you qualify for a reinstatement of terminated workers’ compensation benefits, we may be able to fight for your benefits. Our compassionate team fights for injured workers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey every day. If you’re struggling with your workers’ compensation benefits being terminated illegally or other problems with the workers’ compensation system, contact us today.