Friday, January 11, 2013

Your 3 Basic Rights: Part II

Compensation for time off work (temporary total disability)

The second right you have under the Act is the right to compensation for periods of time that you cannot work due to your work related injury. This is called temporary total disability ("TTD"). This is a weekly benefit, although many insurance companies prefer to pay it every two weeks (if at all). The weekly amount is 2/3 of your average weekly wage ("AWW"), subject to maximums and minimums. These can be found here. Temporary Total Disability, like all benefits under Workers Compensation Act, is tax-free. Your average weekly wage is going to require a spreadsheet to calculate correctly, but you can get a good estimate if you work regular hours. Just multiply the number of hours you regularly work each week by your hourly rate. If you regularly work a 50-hour week, and 10 of those hours are paid at time and a half, forget about that extra half you get for the overtime. In fact, stop thinking of it as overtime, since technically overtime is not included in your average weekly wage.

Some case law has indicated that - to be included in your AWW - the hours need to be both regular and mandatory. Mandatory means that if you aren't available to work those 50 hours each week, you could lose your job. Other cases indicate that it's enough that the hours are worked regularly, but beware. If you say you regularly work a 50-hour week, and there's one week that you worked 49 hours, the courts might say 50 hours ins't a regular week. (call for more details on this subject 800.594.7433)

Let's get back to temporary total disability. The important thing is to realize this; the insurance adjuster will frequently underestimate your temporary total disability rate. (We'll be generous and assume this is done by accident.) So do the math and if you think you're being underpaid, let the adjuster know.

In order to be entitled to temporary total disability, you need regularly updated work status slips from your doctor. Your doctor might take you off work completely, or place you on temporary restrictions. If you refuse to even try this light duty, your temporary total disability will be cut off. So show up for the light duty job and give it an honest try, as long as it's within your restrictions. If performing the job causes pain, see your doctor and get your restrictions modified accordingly.

Bear in mind that if youre working light duty but earning less than you would normally be earning, you're entitled to a different benefit called temporary partial disability.

Excerpt from Mark Weissburg's book, How to Win a Workers Compensation Claim in Illinois 

Want to learn more about compensation for time off work or if you have questions about your injury, contact us today or call (800) 594-7433

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