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What Kinds of Benefits Are Available Under Massachusetts’ Workers’ Compensation System?

envelopes-606300-mIf you are severely injured on the job in Massachusetts, you may be wondering what kinds of benefits are available to you in the workers’ compensation system. Workers’ Compensation law is administered by the Department of Industrial Accidents. Insurers dispute a vast majority of workers’ compensation claims; this means if it is even possible an insurer will dispute your injury, it is in your best interests to retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Benefits can be stopped or modified by the insurance company, an administrative judge, the reviewing board or a Massachusetts Appeals court. Certain benefits will be stopped if you go back to work or if your treating doctor or an impartial medical examiner gives the insurer a medical report stating you can go back to work. The following is a list of possible benefits available to you, depending on the circumstances of your specific injury.

Medical Benefits

Suffering any sort of injury can be especially difficult when you are worried about the medical bills. The first question on your mind may be, how am I going to pay for all of these treatments? The workers’ compensation system pays for adequate treatment for injured workers. It also reimburses injured workers for prescriptions, parking fees and mileage to and from the doctor. You should be aware that some employers have the right to designate the first provider you see from their own network. You are entitled to receive medical benefits resulting from an industrial injury, so as long as the requested medical care is medically reasonable, causally related and necessary. 

Temporary Total Disability Benefits

Your next concern, if the injury is not especially bad, may be how will I manage to work? If you are unable to work for five or more days, considering your age, training and experience, you may qualify for temporary total disability benefits to be paid out for up to 156 weeks (three years). These usually amount to 60% of your gross average weekly wage, but there is a cap known as the State’s Average Weekly Wage, which changes each October.  While this is less than what you make while working, it can help you financially survive your injury until you are able to work again.

Temporary Partial Disability Benefits

Certain injuries are not total. They disable the injured person only partly and may require him or her to work in a different position or for fewer hours. Unfortunately, for many people, a new job will be lower paying and involve fewer responsibilities. In order to make up the difference, Massachusetts offers partial disability benefits. You can receive these benefits for up to 260 weeks (five years).  However, if an injured work receives 156 weeks of temporary total disability benefits, then they are only eligible to collect 208 weeks (four years) of temporary partial disability benefits.  The maximum rate of compensation for temporary partial disability is 75% of your weekly temporary total disability rate (as explained above).

Permanent and Total Disability Benefits

If you are totally unable to work, you may need significant benefits to get by. For workers who are totally unable to do their job as a result of a work related injury or illness, or any other job on the local labor market, the workers’ compensation system offers Permanent and Total Disability Benefits. These benefits are provided for as long as you are disabled by the injury or illness. You can receive 2/3 of your average weekly wage and the amount can be adjusted annually based on cost of living.

Permanent Loss of Function Benefits and Disfigurement Benefits

Workers who suffer a permanent loss of function stemming from an injury sustained on the job may receive a one-time payment to compensate them for their loss, assuming they were injured after 1991. These benefits are paid once and it depends on both location and severity of the loss of function or disfigurement. A minor scar will receive a lower benefit than the loss of hearing or the loss of a limb.

Survivors’ Benefits

Tragically, some workers are killed on the job. While no amount of money can fully compensate their spouses and children for the loss, there are survivors’ benefits available to make up for the loss of income after a spouse’s on-the-job death. If you are the spouse or minor child of someone who died as a result of a work-related accident, you are entitled to survivors’ benefits. A surviving spouse may receive weekly benefits that are either 2/3 of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage or up to the maximum provided by the State’s Average Weekly Wage. Two years after the date of injury, a spouse is eligible for a cost of living adjustment. A spouse can collect this type of benefit indefinitely so long as they do not remarry.

Burial Expenses

An insurer must pay reasonable burial expenses where a worker has died due to a work-related injury.

The foregoing is a simple outline of benefits to which you may be entitled if you are hurt on the job. In reality, however, if an insurer has any questions or doubts about your claim, it will fight hard to prevent you from recovering the full amount you deserve. These issues may go before a judge. While the types of benefits are simple, the application of workers’ compensation law can be complex. Because the impact of a workers’ compensation hearing can be critical to your quality of life for days, months or years, you should take all appropriate steps to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. If you are injured on the job, retaining an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney may be your smartest decision. We can fight for the benefits you and your family need. Contact us by calling 800-367-0871 or using our online contact form.

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Massachusetts’ Restaurant and Bakery Worker Suffers Injury, August 19, 2013

Workplace Violence in Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Cases, August 13, 2013

Crushing Injuries in Massachusetts Construction, August 11, 2013