When you sustain an injury on the job and begin to collect workers’ compensation benefits, you might expect that you can concentrate on your recovery and moving forward, and not have to worry about the status of your claim. But your employer’s insurance company will be eager to push you off these benefits.
You may receive a notice of Petition to Modify or Suspend Compensation Benefits in the mail that informs you of a potential change to your benefits. What does this mean, and do you have an opportunity to fight this decision? An experienced workers’ comp attorney can help you navigate this potentially confusing development.
What Is a Modification of Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Your employer may petition for a modification of workers’ comp benefits if it wants to reduce the amount you are paid. The company’s first move will likely be sending a vocational expert to undertake a power evaluation. This determines what type of work you are qualified to do.
The vocational expert may decide you cannot return to your regular job but are capable of performing a modified position. For instance, say you worked full-time in a warehouse where you had to carry heavy things, which you cannot do with your injury. The vocational expert may suggest instead that you do a part-time administrative job that requires no lifting. If the job is offered to you and you are able to perform the work, your benefits would then be modified based on the payment you receive in the new role. If there is no light duty work with your regular employer, the insurance company could file a petition to modify or lower your wage loss checks and try to prove that light duty work is open and available to you in the local labor market.
What Does a Suspension of Workers’ Comp Benefits Mean?
A company can also attempt to suspend your workers’ compensation benefits under a range of circumstances, such as:
- You return to work full-time at full pay but in a different role.
- You get a new job that pays the same or more compared to your pre-injury job.
- Your injury status changes.
In the latter case, if your employer suspects you are ready to return to work, you may undergo an independent medical exam (IME), where a physician chosen by your employer or the insurance company will examine you to see if you are ready to return to work. Depending on the exam results, your employer might file to suspend or stop your benefits.
Contact a Lawyer About a Change in Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Pennsylvania
Insurance companies and employers do not always make decisions based on your best interests. They are looking out for their own bottom lines. They want to stop making benefit payments and see you back on the job.
Receiving a notice of modification or suspension of benefits may not mean you have to head back to work. You may have other options. An attorney can help you fight the petition and remain off the job until you have fully recovered. Going back early increases your risks of getting injured again and setting back your return date.
We can assist you in fighting a modification or suspension of your benefits. Frommer D’Amico is an expert in workers’ compensation. We only take these types of cases and we represent workers only. We charge lower fees, too. Schedule a free initial consultation today by calling 717-400-1000 or by filling out our online contact form.