Now your benefit payments have stopped. There could be a perfectly valid explanation…or not. Below we explain several circumstances in which your workers’ comp benefits may be terminated.
Terminated Within the First 150 Days…
Workers’ comp benefits begin once you’ve been out of work for eight days and may continue for 150 days or longer, depending on the severity of your injury. However, your claim can be denied even after compensation has started.
There are six situations in which workers’ comp benefits can end sooner than 150 days. They are listed below.
1. You return to work and continue to work for at least 15 days.
2. You agree that you’re able to work and complete the appropriate form.
3. An investigation by your employer turns up reasons for the claim to be denied.
4. Your doctor releases you to go back to work without restriction.
5. Your doctor releases you to return to work on light duty, and your employer offers you a limited-duty assignment.
6. You refuse medical treatment, evaluation or examination.
Terminated After the First 150 Days…
Some situations may result in compensation for as long as 500 weeks, or even for life, such as:
- Brain damage
- Total disability
If you’ve received workers’ comp for more than 150 days, there are three ways your benefits can be terminated. They are:
1. Your doctor declares that you’re able to return to work with no restrictions, and your employer gives you back your old job or offers you another similar job.
2. Your doctor reports that you’re able to return to work on limited duty, and your employer gives you a position that matches the restrictions.
3. You return to work for a different employer. The exception is, if your company still owes you compensation payments, you’ll continue receiving benefits until the payments are caught up.
Release By Doctor: The Most Common Reason for Termination
In most workers’ comp cases, benefits are terminated after the doctor releases you from treatment and says you’re able to return to work—whether on limited duty or with no restrictions.
If you’re offered a position with light duty, you must accept it. Otherwise, all of your workers’ comp benefits could end.
However, if you believe your benefits should continue, you may request a hearing by submitting section III of form 15. The hearing will happen in 60 days. You can also request a hearing for the following reasons:
- Your employer didn’t report your accident.
- Your employer denies your injury.
- You think you didn’t receive all of your benefits.
Actions by Employee Causing Termination of Benefits
Sometimes your own actions can result in the termination of your workers’ comp benefits. For example, if you refuse employment after your doctor clears you for work, your employer doesn’t have to pay you any benefits.
Aside from outright refusing to return to work, other actions on your part could result in the loss of your benefits and even, potentially, the loss of your job. For instance, if you return to work and can’t handle the expected workload, your employer could fire you.
What if You’re Fired While Receiving Compensation?
Getting fired means your workers’ comp benefits will stop. Because South Carolina is a “right to work” state, your employer has the right to fire you at any time without cause.
Still, companies often provide a reason when firing an employee. The reason can’t be related to your injury or disability because that’s a form of illegal discrimination.
If you’re fired from your job and lose your workers’ comp benefits, you should hire an attorney.
These cases are touchy, and there’s no telling which way the court will decide. However, employers are highly scrutinized when firing employees that are receiving benefits, because there’s often a suspicion that the employer’s motivation was to get out of paying benefits.
Your benefits are gone. Now what can you do?
Don’t understand why your workers’ comp benefits stopped? Do you believe your benefits were unfairly terminated? A SC worker’s compensation lawyer can help you figure out what to do next.
Your SC worker’s comp attorney can help you to submit your claim, review the facts of your case, fight for you to get a fair settlement in a hearing, and appeal adverse decisions on your behalf.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to talk about your case. Call (843) 488-5000 or complete our simple online form.