Florida Workers’ Compensation: Key Questions about Benefits
Once injured workers have begun receiving medical treatment for their injuries, it’s natural for them to start wondering how they’ll financially support themselves and their families until they can work again. Questions about when a first benefit check may arrive, who must pay for all of the medical care and whether or not a worker can receive both unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time often need to be addressed. Additional questions regarding how long benefit checks will be sent must also be answered so that workers can return their focus to fully healing and hopefully returning to their former jobs – or new, more suitable ones – just as soon as they are able.
Here are some common benefit questions and answers.
- When will I receive my first benefit check? You should receive your first check within 21 days after you inform your employer about your injury. If this first check fails to arrive, tell your Florida worker’s compensation attorney who can contact the appropriate
insurance adjustor or claim representative on your behalf;
- How much money should I expect to receive in each benefit check? You will normally be paid on a bi-weekly basis. If you are taken out of work by your workers compensation doctor, your benefit check will be 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage (temporary total disability). If you are placed on “light duty” work by your doctor and your employer does not have a light duty position for you, you will receive slightly less than 66 2/3% (temporary partial disability).
- Can I expect payment for all of the work I may miss due to my injury? Under Florida law, you are not paid for the first seven days of disability. However, if you lose time because your disability extends to over 21 days, you may be paid for the first seven days by the insurance company;
- Will I be required to pay for any of my medical care? No, all authorized medical bills should be submitted by the medical provider to your employer’s insurance company for payment;
- If I’m only temporarily disabled, how long can benefit checks be sent to me – assuming that my doctor keeps documenting my current limitations? Florida law allows an injured worker to receive Temporary Total or Temporary Partial Disability — or a combination of those two types of benefit checks — for a maximum time period of 104 weeks (two full years);
- Can an injured worker receive both unemployment insurance checks and workers’ compensation benefit checks at the same time? Yes, but keep in mind – in order to receive unemployment compensation, you are certifying that you are physically able to work. A person can only receive unemployment checks if he or she is “medically able and available for work” which will not be true of someone whose doctor is currently authorizing workers’ compensation checks due to temporary total disability status;
If your doctor has taken you out of work, you should not be applying for unemployment compensation. If the workers compensation doctor has placed you at light duty, and your employer has terminated you, then you can seek unemployment compensation benefits, but the insurance company will receive an offset for any money your receive from unemployment compensation. And, you must report any amounts of money you receive to the insurance company.
- Can I receive both workers’ compensation and social security benefit checks at the same time? Yes, you usually can. However, the applicable laws only allow the amount you receive from both checks to equal no more than “80 percent of your average weekly wage earned prior to your injury.” To achieve this correct payment amount, your workers’ compensation benefit check may have to be slightly reduced. Your Florida worker’s compensation attorney can help you determine the exact amount of money you can expect to receive;
- Will I owe income taxes on the workers’ compensation benefit checks or a workers compensation settlement? No, you will not. However, if you go back to work on light or limited duty and are still under the care of the authorized doctor, you will pay taxes on any wages earned while working.
Since these questions and answers only represent some of the many concerns you may have regarding your financial needs while recovering from your injury, it’s best to hire a South Florida workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after your accident. That way, you can have an experienced professional address each of your most important questions as they arise.