If you got hurt at work and you have been relying on your workers’ compensation benefits to get by, suddenly losing those benefits can be devastating. Whether you are still undergoing treatment or therapy, you have been unable to work, you were forced to accept a lower-paying position during your recovery, or you are dealing with any combination of the above, finding out that your benefits have been terminated can leave you feeling helpless and with no place to turn.
Understanding Your Right to Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Illinois
In Illinois, workers’ compensation benefits for non-fatal injuries fall into three categories: (i) medical benefits, (ii) disability benefits, and (iii) vocational rehabilitation and maintenance benefits. The rules for termination of each of these types of benefits vary:
1. Medical Benefits
Under Illinois law, if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you are entitled to coverage for all of the medical expenses you incur as a result of a job-related injury. This includes doctor visits, outpatient and inpatient care, surgical procedures, physical therapy, prescriptions and medical devices, and any other diagnosis or treatment-related expenses.
Oftentimes, employers and their workers’ compensation insurance companies will attempt to terminate medical benefits by claiming that the employee has reached “maximum medical improvement” or “MMI”. This refers to the point at which additional medical treatment will not have a significant impact on your health or wellbeing. If you are being denied medical benefits on the grounds that you have achieved your MMI, you should speak with a workers’ compensation attorney promptly.
2. Disability Benefits
Disability benefits can be temporary or permanent, and they can be partial or total. When you are placed on temporary disability (either partial or total), you are entitled to continue receiving benefits until you are medically ready to resume your normal job duties (subject to termination at age 67 or after five years, whichever comes later). If you are on permanent disability, you can continue receiving benefits indefinitely.
Unfortunately, employers and their insurers routinely terminate injured workers’ disability benefits prematurely. In many cases, this can seem to be done at random. If you have been cut off from disability but you believe that you are still entitled to benefits, you should confirm your continued eligibility, submit an appropriate response to the denial, and be prepared to file an appeal if necessary.
3. Vocational Rehabilitation and Maintenance Benefits
Vocational rehabilitation and maintenance benefits cover the costs of any training, education or rehabilitation necessary for an injured employee to return to work, plus certain living and travel expenses during the rehabilitation period. If you are not yet able to work, it is not yet time for your vocational and rehabilitation benefits to end. You will need an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to evaluate your case; and, if you are still entitled to benefits, you will need to formally dispute your termination so that you can get back to work as quickly and safely as possible.
Contact the Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Jackowiak Law Offices
If you are dealing with premature termination of your workers’ compensation benefits in Chicago, our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers can help you get back on the road to recovery. To discuss your case in confidence, call us at (312) 795-9595 or request a free consultation online today.