If you are out of work as the result of a work injury, you are entitled to a weekly benefit “wage replacement” known as your weekly workers’ compensation benefit. In order to receive this benefit, you must be disabled and unable to work. The law allows you to be considered totally disabled for a period of time. However, if you are on the road to a full physical recovery and eventually will be returning to work, the true goal of the law, then your ability to receive ongoing payments may be affected by “how disabled” you are.
While we as attorneys argue that injured workers should be entitled to the same benefit the whole time, the insurance industry and the Workers’ Compensation Board has come up with this idea that as you get better you go from being totally disabled to partially disabled, meaning you have a partial ability to do something. Based upon that ability or disability they will lower your weekly payment by a certain percentage.
Here is an example: assume you are earning $600.00 a week and entitled to a $400.00 a week total disability wage. At some point your doctor says you have a moderate disability and can go back to work potentially doing some things. Now let’s say your job does not have light duty, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company and Board will still attempt to lower your weekly payments from $400.00 a week to $200.00 a week (a moderate disability) based on a formula. This does not seem fair, but in their thinking you would have an ability to earn some additional money and still get this compensation. It is a very unfair system and can put you in a very precarious situation, and often times forces people to return to work. Therefore, the higher your average weekly wage is, the more we may be able to get benefits for you.