You generally do not have to go back to work after your workers’ compensation ends. Your workers’ compensation benefits end when you return to work, or your doctor declares you well enough to go back to work. According to the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), the decision of whether you can stay or return to work will involve multiple people, including your doctor, employer, claims administrator, and a workers’ compensation lawyer if you have one. However, this determination does not force you to go back to work. It just means that you will not be eligible to receive compensation under the workers’ compensation program.
You do not need to go back to the same employer after your work-related injury to receive workers’ compensation payments, as long as your employer had notice of your injury after it happened but before your termination or layoff. This requirement means if you received permanent disability resulting from your injury, you will not have to go to work until a doctor declares you healthy enough to do so. Just keep in mind that you cannot receive workers’ compensation while working except under specific circumstances, such as partial disability.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation and Return-to-Work Supplement Program
The Return-to-Work Supplement Program (RTWSP) established by California Labor Code (LAB) §139.48 provides a financial incentive for injured workers receiving workers’ compensation to go back to work. Depending on your health and long-term needs, RTWSP could help you transition to a new career. While not everyone is eligible for the program, it can be an excellent choice for workers eligible to receive a larger payment through this program if they suffered relatively minor injuries that quickly resolved.
Statute of Limitations
In general, statutes of limitations govern how long you have to file a workers’ compensation claim or legal action after suffering an injury. This time limit prevents you from filing a claim years after the fact when evidence about your claims would become challenging to find.
In the case of workers’ compensation claims in California, you have one year to file a workers’ compensation claim under LAB §5405. This statute assumes that you notified your employer of the accident or injury within 30 days of the date of the accident or when you found out about the injury under LAB §5400. In most situations, you cannot file a workers’ compensation claim outside this window of time.
Steps You Can Take After Workers’ Compensation Ends
Unless your doctor and claims administrator approve you to receive permanent disability, there will come a time when your eligibility for workers’ compensation ends. If workers’ compensation eligibility kept you from working, you could return to full employment if you are able. You may need to find a different line of work that can accommodate any job restrictions that you might have.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
You could receive different types of benefits based on your eligibility and the circumstances of your injury. You could receive medical benefits to cover any injury-related treatment, service, or prescription related to your workers’ compensation claim. You might also be eligible for disability compensation if you cannot work because of your injuries. You could receive either permanent (full) or temporary (partial) disability payments. It largely depends on the situation you face and your specific needs.
If your injury will keep you from continuing in your same line of work once you recover, or if you will never fully recover to the point that you can do what you did for work, you have career change benefits available to you that can make a difference. This category includes career counseling, certifications, and reimbursement for licensing fees. In the event your loved one died from a workplace injury, you could receive death benefits on their behalf.
In the Event of a Workers’ Compensation Claim Denial
If your claim administrator denies your workers’ compensation claim, it does not mean that you must accept that outcome. It is possible to appeal the decision. If you do not win your appeal, you could seek other forms of legal action.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you need help with your workers’ compensation claim or more information about your available options—including if you have to go back to work after your workers’ compensation ends—contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 529-9122 for a free consultation. We can guide you on your next steps and ideas for alternative forms of legal action should that become necessary.
There is no cost associated with the initial consultation, and you can have your questions answered. The weeks and months after suffering a severe injury can feel overwhelming, with many things you must do. Fortunately, our workers’ compensation lawyers stand ready to help you throughout this process. You do not need to do everything on your own. Call us today to get started.