Employees injured on the job become eligible for workers compensation benefits to help them back on their feet.
Workers compensation is a state mandated insurance system spelling out certain defined benefits to employees who suffer job related injuries and illnesses. Each state has its own workers compensation laws.
What are the benefits?
Total Temporary Benefits
A wage replacement ‘compensation rate’ initially is intended to make up for the loss of a pay check after an injury at work means the employee cannot perform job duties. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the two states in which my office is licensed, the weekly compensation rate is 60% of the pre injury average weekly wage.
The total temporary benefits are limited as to the amount of time they may be paid. In Massachusetts the total benefit is limited to 156 weeks. This is 3 years. [M.G.L. c. 152, § 34.]
New Hampshire workers compensation law limits the employee’s “TTD” or Total Temporary Disability eligibility to the duration of the documented total disability. [RSA 281-A:28]
When an employee’s work related disability is found only to be partial, the partial benefit payment is capped at five years.
Massachusetts law limits partial disability payments to 260 weeks, which equals exactly five (5) years. [M.G.L. c. 152, § 35.]
New Hampshire law limits partial disability payments to 262 weeks, adding 2 weeks to the 5 year cap. But, the number of weeks that any previously paid total disability payments were made must be counted against the five year plus week period. [RSA 281-A:31.]
Other Workers Compensation Benefits
The total and partial benefits described above are only some of the defined payments under the state workers compensation system. Another compensates for permanency.
The Massachusetts statute calls it “Permanent Loss of Function and Disfigurement” and a formula for calculation is in section 36 of the statute.
New Hampshire workers compensation law calls a similar payment a Scheduled Permanent Impairment Award, and the equation is given in the law. [RSA 281-A:32.]
Other benefits exist under workers compensation laws. Payment of medical bills and vocational rehabilitation are only two. The purpose of this blog is simply to point out that state laws control workers compensation benefits, not arbitrary proclamations of insurance companies or employer company policy.
But, state workers compensation regulations are specific and limited. Calculation of benefits and the administrative process are spelled out in statutes and regulations in each state. A workers compensation attorney should always be retained to maximize the available benefits and to assure that the injured worker obtains all benefits available.