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Iowa Work Comp: Shark Infested Waters


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9/27/2013
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Iowa Workers Compensation Question: If I train and take a position at another company will I continue to receive a workers’ compensation check?

Question Detail: I am currently collecting workers' compensation and realize I will no longer be able to do the job that I had been doing before going out on a work injury. After being out of work and receiving healing period benefits I, wanting to be proactive, looked and found a new job with a different employer. The problem is I’m not yet finished with medical treatment and am receiving healing period weekly indemnity checks. What is your advice about whether or not I should take the job and how that may affect my receiving workers’ compensation wages? Thanking you in advance for your attention in this very important matter.

Answer: This is an interesting situation and raises some serious questions. But, it is a complicated question with risk involved with whatever decision you make. Let’s first talk about the additional risk involved. I’ll assume the treating doctor hasn’t released you back to work. Assuming I’m correct I have to wonder what type of injury you have, how far along in your treatment you are, how well you’ve healed or are healing and then whether the treating doctor knows about this new job and agrees it won’t cause additional medical problems. Have you asked the doctor if he’d release you to do this job? Maybe you should just to make sure of his opinion on whether your condition will allow this type of work at this point in your healing process.

Then I have to wonder about the job interview you had with the new employer. Did you fully advise the interviewee that you were off work with a workers’ compensation injury? Or did you fudge on that fact? If you didn’t make a complete disclosure you might be walking the plank and end up in the water with all the sharks. Here is why.

You take the new job, the work comp insurance cuts off your weekly benefit checks. You start the new job and then ask for time off for medical treatment. The employer isn’t happy about not being fully informed of your health status and ability to fully perform the new job. If it appears you lied on the application it will most likely result in your employment being terminated. Oh boy, do your kids eat? Now if that isn’t complicated enough consider that as soon as you begin working those healing period benefits will end and you will have no money coming in from either work comp or from your new job. Yeah, I know that’s not really a good way to put food on the table.

Let’s talk about the benefits continuing or being immediately terminated. Healing period benefits terminate when one of three things happen.

  1. The doctor releases you back to your job.
  2. You return to work.
  3. You reach maximum medical improvement.

You should hear a loud sound right about now. It’s the sound of tires squealing as the insurance adjuster slams on the brakes of the benefit engine after you “return to work”. Can you say I’m hungry? Can you say, "Oh honey did you know McDonalds is hiring on the night shift and you can work there as a second job. Oh, my arm hurts just thinking of how hard she will punch yours. You should think about how you will buy food when the work comp checks no longer arrives because that is where you are heading.

Now I do applaud you for being proactive and looking for a new job, but realistically you’re on a pirate ship and that wood you’re standing on is a plank directly over the water. The sound you hear is from the sharks circling below you. If I were you I would not consider jumping off the healing period plank and into the shark infested waters.

Yeah, I know nothing is easy in workers’ compensation cases which is why I get paid what I do to fight with adjusters and doctors about your benefits. So good luck and call us if I can help.

Welcome mate to the world of workers’ compensation. 



Category: Workers' Compensation & Employee Rights


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