Understanding a Suspension of Workers’ Comp Benefits
A Suspension of Workers’ Compensation Benefits is when the Workers’ Compensation Carrier tries to stop your wage loss benefits but not your medical benefits alleging that you are able to return to work in some capacity, whether it be regular, medium, light, or sedentary work according to an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) report or your own treating Dr’s report.
From the time you begin to receive workers’ compensation wage loss benefits once your claim has been accepted, it is the workers’ compensation adjustor’s job to try and find a way to stop paying you compensation, as it is costing the carrier and your employer premium dollars to have you on workers’ compensation. The workers’ compensation carrier will receive ongoing reports from your treating physicians and if there is an hint that you can return to your job, or the same category of job…ie., desk type work, light, medium, or heavy duty work, that pays the same as your pre-injury work, the carrier will hire an attorney to file a Suspension Petition to try to stop your workers’ compensation wage loss benefits altogether.
If your treating physicians do not indicate that you are capable of returning to work so that your benefits can potentially be suspended, the workers’ compensation carrier will send you to a physician who they pay to perform a one time exam of you. This physician is referred to as an Independent Medical Examiner. It is the hope of the carrier and your employer that the IME Dr. will indicate that you are capable to return to work that would pay the same pre-injury rate that you earned.
If you do not go back to work to try a job that is made available to you that fits in the Dr’s restrictions, the workers’ compensation carrier will ask a Workers’ Compensation Judge to suspend your work loss wage benefits. The Workers’ Compensation Carrier will hire an attorney to file a Suspension Petition in support of their case, so be sure to be represented yourself.
If your employer does not have light or sedentary work for you to go back to, the workers’ compensation carrier may hire a vocational specialist to do an interview of you to assess your educational, transferable skills, and work history background.
Earning Power Assessment
The vocational specialist will also do an Earning Power Assessment to determine what you could be making based on what work they find within your restrictions. For example, if the vocational specialist finds that work as a “Walmart Greeter” is generally available in your area within your restrictions for $10.00 per hour and that is the same or more than you earned at the time of your injury, the workers’ compensation carrier will petition the court to suspend your wage loss benefits.
This can get complicated and the best time to contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney, if you have not already, is when you are contacted about the IME. Be proactive!
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about workers’ compensation through our Workers’ Comp Wednesdays with Kara Curry on 99.9 The Hawk. If you or a loved one has a question regarding your work injury or claim I invite you to contact me via phone (215) 530-7166, email or the form to the right. As a certified workers’ compensation attorney, I am happy to offer free consultations. – Paula Robinson, Esq.