If you suffer a work injury in Pennsylvania, and your claim is totally accepted, with you receiving both wage loss and medical benefits or a Workers’ Compensation Judge awards you wage loss benefits, as well as medical benefits, how long can you receive them? The short answer is that you will continue to receive those benefits until you either settle your case or a Judge orders your benefits modified, suspended, or terminated. When you receive wage loss benefits, it is important to note that they are not taxable. So you will owe no federal, state, or local taxes whether you receive weekly, biweekly benefits, or a lump sum settlement of your workers’ compensation benefits.
One thing is for sure, the insurance company will keep trying to get you off of workers’ compensation. Almost always, it starts with a doctor of their choosing; known as an Independent Medical Examiner (IME Dr.). That doctor will then issue a report regarding your medical status regarding your work injury. If the doctor says that you are capable of some type of medium, light, or sedentary work, then the workers’ compensation carrier will ask your employer if there is work available for you to return to. If your employer has no work available, then the workers’ compensation carrier can hire a vocational expert to conduct an interview with you to review your educational and vocational background, your transferrable skills, and then find work generally available in your area. The vocational expert will prepare an earning power assessment/labor market survey outlining work available in your area with the rate of pay, and meeting the Independent Medical Examiner’s (IME Dr.) restrictions. If the rate of pay of the jobs are the same as your pre-injury wages, then the carrier will petition the court to suspend your benefits.
Suspension of your benefits means that your wage loss benefits will stop, but your medical benefits for the work injury will continue. If the IME Dr. says that you are fully recovered from your work injury, the carrier will petition the court to terminate your benefits. This means that they are trying to stop both your wage loss benefits and medical benefits. All of these processes can take up to one (1) year to litigate.
During the time that your case is in litigation, you usually have the opportunity to resolve your case via a lump sum settlement. If you settle your case, the carrier will typically want to settle both the wage loss and medical for what is known as a Compromise Release Agreement. Assuming that a workers’ compensation judge approves the same, this will be the end of your case. There are some instances where the carrier will agree to keep paying medical for a certain period of time, but these are typically far and few between. Even more rare is where the carrier will settle the wage loss only and totally keep the medical open. For more articles on workers’ compensation, please visit Robinson Law.