Q: If I have been injured on the job, how do I get paid?
A: Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits provided for under Ohio law are designed to replace wages if you are unable to work while you are recovering from your injury.
Q: How would these benefits calculated for me?
A: Temporary total disability benefits are paid for the first 12 weeks after your injury, based on a calculation of your full weekly wage. This calculation is based on an average of the six weeks immediately before the injury or the last full week of your employment, whichever is greater. After 12 weeks of inability to work, temporary total benefits are based on the average weekly wage, which is determined from the 52 weeks of your earnings before your industrial injury. To get paid, you and your doctor must complete a C-84 form and a MEDCO 14 form verifying your inability to return to your former position at work. You would receive a maximum of $837 per week in benefits every two weeks for a 2013 injury.
Q: For how long can I receive TTD benefits?
A: These benefits can be paid indefinitely, but usually are paid only until:
(1) you return to work;
(2) your treating physician states, in writing, that you are capable of returning to your former employment position;
(3) your employer or another employer provides you with work within your physical capabilities;
(4) you have reached “maximum medical improvement.”
You likely will have to attend periodic examinations (usually 90 days) with a Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) examiner, or periodic medical examinations scheduled by your employer to determine if benefits should continue. A hearing before the Industrial Commission hearing officer is sometimes also necessary to determine whether or not further benefits can be paid.
Q: Can I work while receiving TTD benefits?
A: Generally, no. Working for pay while on TTD benefits can constitute fraud and is subject to severe criminal penalties. Before returning to any work-like activity while on TTD, you should consult an attorney and discuss any possible return to work with your doctor.
Q: Can I continue to get any benefits after I am released to return to work?
A: If your physician has released you with restrictions, and you cannot return to your former position, you may qualify for wage loss benefits.
There are two types of wage loss benefits: working wage loss and non-working wage loss. If, for example, you have returned to work, but are working fewer hours, you may be entitled to working wage loss benefits equal to two-thirds of the difference between your average weekly wage and your earnings. This can be paid over a period of approximately 200 weeks, depending on how long your restrictions are in place. If you are released to return to work and your job is no longer available, you may look for work within your physical restrictions while receiving benefits for non-working wage loss. These benefits are paid for at least 26 weeks and up to a maximum of 52 weeks.
For both types of benefits, you must meet certain requirements. You must register with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, the organization that helps injured workers find suitable employment. You must also search for a new job, and demonstrate this by making at least 15 - 20 contacts per week and reporting to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The BWC does check to see if you are making the job contacts before your benefits will be payable. Your physician also must certify your working restrictions.
Q: Do I need a lawyer?
A: Most workers’ compensation claims are simple matters if they only involve a trip to an emergency room and payment of the bill, but more complicated cases involving time away from work may require a lawyer’s help.
Q: Where can I get more information?
A: Visit the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation website at www.ohiobwc.com.
This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Columbus attorney David Barnhart of the Philip J. Fulton Law Office.