Workers’ comp can’t just stop unless there is a legitimate reason to cease benefits. It’s important to understand your rights as an employee in Des Moines when it comes to a work injury and payments.
Circumstances Under Which Workers’ Comp Benefits Could Stop
The most common and valid reason for benefits to stop are when the employee has returned to work. This means the worker has recovered and can resume normal job duties.
Iowa law requires employees receive a 30-day written notice with an explanation for stopping benefits under other circumstances. For instance, if the medical provider has indicated that significant improvement from the injury isn’t anticipated. Another situation in which a notice would be required is when the employee is medically capable of returning to the same or similar work.
Along with a reason for terminating benefits, employees must be advised of their right to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner if there is a disagreement. Stopping benefits without providing notice could warrant seeking legal advice.
When Termination of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Isn’t Warranted
Some insurers or employers may stop benefits without a valid reason. For instance, an employer decides to fire the employee to avoid paying benefits. While not working or when performing light duty work and receiving temporary partial workers’ comp benefits, an employer cannot terminate an employee as a means of retaliation.
Another unwarranted reason to stop benefits is if the employer doesn’t agree with the doctor’s findings. There might be a dispute as to the disability rating assigned, work restrictions or other findings. The medical provider might have indicated the employee isn’t ready to return to work but the employer and/or insurer believes otherwise. This wouldn’t be a valid reason to stop benefits.
What to Do if Workers’ Compensation Benefits Unnecessarily Stop
In certain cases, if the benefits are not paid, the employee could be entitled to interest or penalty benefits. Workers in Des Moines facing this problem should discuss the issue with an attorney.
Most disputes concerning workers’ compensation benefits must be brought before the commissioner. Similar to other forms of litigation, the case can go to a hearing. Both sides will be able to present evidence. There will need to be proof that specifically addresses the wrongful termination of benefits.
Although it’s not necessary to have legal counsel present, it is usually in the employee’s best interest to hire an attorney. Iowa workers’ compensation laws can be very complicated and an employee might not fully understand the process and rights afforded to workers.
An administrative law judge will make a decision as to whether stopping benefits was warranted. They will be reinstated if the administrative law judge finds benefits were wrongfully terminated. But if the judge decides against the employee, it is possible to appeal that decision. If legal representation hasn’t been secured at this point, it would be the perfect time to do so.
If you’re facing wrongful termination of your workers’ compensation benefits in Des Moines, talk to Walker, Billingsley & Bair about your rights. Call (888) 435-9886.