When an on-the-job injury keeps you from working, you may come to depend on your employer's workers' compensation coverage. With medical costs soaring, you'll be glad to have that aspect of your care covered by worker's comp insurance. In addition to medical treatment costs, worker's compensation also pays hurt workers a partial disability wage while they are unable to work. This wage has some unique features that set it apart from other forms of compensation. To find out more about this form of financial assistance, read on.
Qualifying for Benefits
Before you can be paid disability wages, you must have your worker's comp claim approved. Follow these steps to ensure coverage:
- Get treated by a doctor for your illness or injury and do so as soon as possible.
- Inform your supervisor of your need to file a worker's compensation insurance claim with your employer's carrier. Follow up to make sure that happens.
- Follow your doctor's orders in regards to work. If the worker's comp doctor orders you to remain at home for a period of time, do so. If ordered to return to work, do so if you are able. If not, speak to a worker's comp attorney for help.
Be Prepared for the Partial Wage
If you are out of work for long, your financial situation could begin to deteriorate. That is because the money paid to you as a result of your claim is not as much as your previous salary. The actual amount varies, but it's always a percentage of your regular pay. It might, for example, be only 66.6% of your normal pay. No matter what, however, never return to your job unless you are cleared by the doctor. If you try to use your paid time off to help make up for the lost wages, you won't be allowed to do so.
Disability Wages are Not Taxed or Treated as Income
The other major difference in disability wages and regular income is that you won't owe any income tax on the funds you get. The wages you are paid are insurance benefits and you don't have to include them when you file your taxes. They won't be turned into the IRS. That also means you get the disability wage without having any federal or state income taxes deducted from it.
Unfortunately, the usual optional deductions you are accustomed to are not going to happen. If you are contributing to a retirement account, paying back a 401(k) loan, have health insurance premiums deducted, etc, you will need to make alternate arrangements to cover those expenses separately.
If your disability wages have continued for so long that you fear you'll never work again, speak to a worker's compensation lawyer about your case. You may be entitled to a lump-sum settlement from the insurer. For more information, contact a law firm such as Oxner + Permar, PLLC.