How Can an Employer Reduce Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
If you’ve been injured at work and your ability to make a living has been impacted, you can seek workers’ compensation benefits. They help you stay financially sound while recovering from your injuries. Depending on the severity, your doctor may instruct you to take a leave of absence from work or you may be able to return on a light-duty basis. Regardless of your physical limitations, benefits should be available to you. In some instances, however, your employer could try to reduce the compensation you’re receiving.
Tactics Employers Could Use to Reduce Your Benefits
If you’ve started receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you may think you have nothing to worry about in regard to your recovery or financial situation. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If your employer or their insurance company can find a legitimate reason, they could reduce or terminate your benefits. Some common tactics include:
- Independent Medical Exam. When you report injuries on the job, your employer’s insurance company will typically require an Independent Medical Exam (IME). This doctor is chosen by the insurance company to examine you, read the injury report, and make a determination about your abilities and course of treatment. If the physician says you are cleared for work, you won’t be eligible for benefits—even if you believe your injuries are worse than what they determined.
- Functional Capacity Exam. A Function Capacity Exam (FCE) is completed when a doctor believes your limitations have reached a level of permanency. The examiner is typically a physical therapist. Depending on the report, the insurance company could stop your benefits.
- Private Investigator. Your employer’s insurance company could hire a private investigator to observe you while you work under the physical restriction of a doctor. If you’re found to be in violation of the restrictions set by the doctor, your benefits could be terminated. This is why it’s crucial to always follow your doctor’s instructions, whether you’re at home, work, or elsewhere.
- Pay Reduction. While your employer may have the right to pay you less if you are temporarily stationed at a position that warrants a lower wage, they cannot lower your wages or salary because you claimed workers’ compensation benefits. It’s also unlawful for an employer to pay you less because of a disability if you’re still able to perform the essential tasks of your previous position. Determining if an employer has the right to reduce your pay is best discovered by a lawyer.
Petitions to Modify, Suspend, or Terminate Workers’ Comp Benefits
If you receive a petition regarding your workers’ comp benefits, it’s important to understand what the petition is, why your employer filed it, and what you can do to ensure you continue to receive the compensation you need.
If you receive a Petition to Modify Compensation Benefits, your employer is asking the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to reduce the amount of money you receive. Their reasoning is typically based on a physician’s report that your injury is not as disabling as it was before. If you feel that the modified job your employer has provided exceeds the physical restrictions from your doctor, you can fight the petition.
Your employer can also file a Petition to Suspend Workers’ Compensation Benefits, which means they’re asking that your benefits be temporarily stopped. The reasoning may revolve around failure to comply with the Workers’ Compensation Act requirements or refusal to do a requested job.
If your employer requests a Petition to Termination Compensation Benefits, they want the Bureau to stop paying your benefits entirely. This is typically based on physician reports.
If you receive a letter in the mail regarding your workers’ compensation benefits changing in any way, it’s important to contact an attorney immediately. The deadlines to respond are often short and your income and ability to provide for your family could be on the line. Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Baltimore can guide you through the hearing and ensure your benefits are secured.
Contact Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC
As an employee, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you’ve been injured on the job. If your employee tries to wrongfully reduce your benefits, you can take legal action to secure your compensation and hold them accountable.
At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, we understand the challenges of going up against an employer. We’ll do what we can to make the process as easy as possible for you. Don’t be taken advantage of. Learn more about your legal rights by scheduling a no-obligation case evaluation with our firm today. We’ll explain your options and help you secure your workers’ compensation benefits.